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Archived posts from December 2006 to December 2008 are missing their photos. Key posts will be updated as soon as I have time!

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Wednesday
Apr012015

Yet more Painted Woolly Toppers...

This is where I think a lot of knitters will get excited - the sock yarn Hats! I have to confess that sock yarns and finer don't always do it for me; I've a rather low boredom threshold and as much as I'm a process knitter, I'm a process knitter who needs it done already! That said, I enjoyed this exploration - the things I could do with shape and colour and form that just aren't possible with heavier weight yarns really grabbed me.

The 6th Hat in the collection is Risalire.

 

 

From a technical point of view, this was tricky to photograph. Short rows in a Garter stitch brim and a fine stepped slip stitch pattern on the body all make for fine intricate subtle details that aren't hidden by the colours, but do look like quite different up close to afar.

 

 

I'm rather enjoying bonnet shaping at the moment. It's a great solution for keeping the ears warm and shaping the face without ear-flaps. This one isn't a fast knit, but well worth it, and great comfort knitting too, I found!

 

 

This sample is knit in Koigu PPM and it's lovely stuff! Given the different levels of details, this Hat would work just as well in a plain or semi-solid, but I do love the optical effect in the brights!

The next (and final) Hat for today is Gallone.

 

 

Who wouldn't want a chevron brim in such colours! This Hat is incredibly simple to knit, with a couple of techniques thrown in - prov cast-on, grafting, picking up sts and slipped sts. The shaping is created by the folding and grafting and it's rather satisfying when it comes together.

 

 

This sample is The Knitting Goddess British Wool sock, and the shade is 'Flower Power' which I think is the perfect description! Given the construction, the Hat is also incredibly easy to adjust if you don't hit gauge or for inbetween sizes. I don't think it will work as well in solid colours - it is the self-striping nature that sets this one apart.

 

 

The sun decided to come out during these shots which isn't something I usually encourage (or rather, sun in my photos in my photos is something I prefer to avoid, similarly sky!) but I think it works - adds to the dramatic effect of the colours :)

Tomorrow I'll reveal the final 3 Hats, and then friday I'll reveal the cover and offer the eBook pre-sale offer! Early purchasers will receive the patterns as singles as they're ready, and I'll make sure there's something for you to start on over the long weekend ;) Can't wait for you to see all of them and tell me which are your faves! I kinda think I've saved the best 3 till last...

Tuesday
Mar312015

More Painted Woolly Toppers Hats!

The next two Hats I want to show you are in the DK and Sports weight range - my plan at the moment is to order the patterns within the book in descending weight order, which for whatever reason feels very logical to me!

The first pattern to share today is Helical.

 

 

Helical is everything you want in a cosy, slouchy Hat. Knit in Socks That Rock heavyweight, there's plenty of drape and vibrant colours to boot.

 

 

It's the only Hat in the book with any kind of cable or travelling stitch technique, and that's fine. Given that it is Garter stitch, you'll also find slipped stitches to help balance out the fabric.

As I'm sure you already know, one of the challenges of working with Garter stitch in the round is the join - it just jogs, it can't help itself. It's a perfectly normal thing that happens when stitches change from knit to purl and vice versa, but disguising it isn't easy. In small doses it doesn't really bother me, especially in finer weight and heavily variegated yarns. Yet at this weight, and all the way up the Hat, it had to be hidden. And it is. It's one of those little tricks that pleases me so ;)

 

 

Although it might not be obvious, there's a proportional element to this Hat too, and the design definitely ticked all my happy boxes! Garter stitch, especially slouchy Garter stitch at this gauge is yarn thirsty, and thankfully the STR yarn comes in a slightly heavier skein :)

 

The second and final Hat for today is Cornice. 

 

 

Inspired by Quynn, one of my most popular Hats, I wanted to play some more with integrated ear-flaps. It is, however, an entirely different Hat under the hood (scuse the pun).

 

 

The mathematical structure behind this Hat differs, and it has a flatter, more fitted crown. Not to mention that giant pompom! The lines of ridges help emphasise the colour changes, and the shaping at the ear-flaps - one big difference here is that the ear-flaps are shaped as they merge into the body, which doesn't happen in Quynn - it makes for a more elegant fit.

 

 

The sample is knit in Manos Silk Blend, which is one of my favourite yarns! Working up to a light DK or sports weight gauge, it's both warm, soft and light.

That's all for today - tomorrow we'll start to meet the Hats in sock yarns!

Monday
Mar302015

Introducing the first Painted Woolly Toppers designs

So... this is what I've been up to and why it's been so quiet around here!

I've been meaning to talk more about the Painted Woolly Toppers project, talk a bit about the yarns, and the ideas behind the collection and before I knew it, it was photoshoot time and all Hats were back from their first round of tech editing. It's kinda snuck up on me, I guess.

The premise, as with any of the other Woolly Toppers collections is 10 Hats with a common theme, and as the title suggests, these Hats are designed for hand-dyed/painted and variegated yarns. Those beautiful skeins you buy from your local indie dyer or the ones that come home with you from a fibre festival despite your best efforts to show restrain, and then they look at you, longingly, from a dark corner of your stash, whilst you try and work out what on earth you're going to knit with it.

They're tricky. But there are stitch patterns they work with well, and there are designs that will show them off. And that's what this book is about. 

Of course, there is also a second theme, and it's that each hat has an element of garter stitch. Garter stitch and hand-dyed yarns really are good bed-fellows, and once I'd decided on this as a secondary theme, the design ideas didn't stop flowing. Garter stitch has it's own magical qualities and I really rather enjoyed exploring the stitch again, and bringing together a series of designs that not only were about the many, many colours, but also about structure too.

The book is in it's final stages - I literally have to drop everything into the layout and send it off for it's 2nd round of tech editing, and the first test prints could be here in a couple of weeks. It's gone *that* fast! So over the next few days I want to share the designs with you, talk a little about their yarns, and let the photos do most of the talking.

 

 

Giostra is the first Hat, and it's the only one that you will have met already. In fact, it's the Hat that sowed the seeds of this book. Knit in Lorna's laces Bullfrogs and Butterflies, it'll knit up perfectly in any aran weight yarn. Columns of slip stitches (that other stitch that loves hand-paint so much) and bobbles adorn the body, and there's a gentle point to the crown.

 

 

What absolutely fascinated me about shooting this Hat on Cheryl was the way in which the crown appeared much more prominent... it isn't really, but it's a combination of head shape and glasses frames. I really rather like the point (I mean, this is me - I always sneak a pixie Hat in when I can) but you can just pull the Hat down a little more snuggly for a beanie fit.

The 2nd Hat I'm going to share is Quoin, and of all of the Hats in the book, it's the quickest to knit.

 

 

You'll be forgiven for thinking that the location for this shot is a anywhere but the same as the shot above, but that's the beauty of an urban landscape! The whole shoot was shot in one day, in Manchester (England, UK) and it was the *perfect* place. I loved wandering around with my camera, catching all the details and textures, and matching Hat to background.

 

 

As well as pixie Hats, my other love is sideways Hats. And this sideways Hat has no grafting at all! There are a couple of short rows, but literally only two, and the rest is pretty straightforward. Being multi-directional you really get to see the colours play out, and it works beautifully with the softest of colour changes too.

 

 

My favourite part of the Hat is the asymmetrical brim. It's so simple and yet so effective. The longer section can be worn wherever you wish, and where the brim is joined is the narrowest part of the short rows. It's a great combination of wedges in different directions. This sample is knit in Manos Wool Clasica, and it'd also be perfect in hand-spun.

The final Hat for today is Jetty (thank you Eskimimi for the name!) 

 

 

The model may be familiar to many, and Kate Heppell was a complete star and as well as modelling and showing me the Manchester sights, she also put me up for the weekend. 

 

 

Jetty is Marina turned on it's side - the seafoam stitch pattern works beautifully in the round, and the detail is also carried through to the crown shaping. Shown here in Malabrigo Merino Worsted, it's the perfect Hat for that special skein of worsted or aran. 

 

 

It goes without saying that all of the patterns have a minimum of 3 sizes included, and the book will have all the relevant techniques included. And before anyone starts to tell me that the most popular hand-dyed yarns are in finer weights, I know! These are the 3 heaviest yarn weights in the book. Tomorrow I'll show some DK and Sports and from the rest is in sock/fingering/4ply weight - and I know how much folk love their hand-dyed sock yarns!

Once I've revealed each of the 10 Hats the eBook will go on pre-release and I'll also reveal the cover. The print edition will take a few more weeks yet, but it'll be done before the end of May, as I'm launching the book at TNNA!

What do you think? Has the silence on this blog been worth it? ;)

ps/ I took the photos. I'm a little bit chuffed with them.

Friday
Mar132015

Happy Birthday Aran! (and hello Lumossity)

Our boy turns 7 today - seven! And he's growing up fast.

 

 

In digging around for the perfect photos to share today, I found these, and these are some of my favourite shots of Aran from last year. They were taken 5 months after he went into renal failure, and despite still being underweight and still being on kidney-watch and still going back and forth to hospital for continual tests, he was still smiling and larking around.

 

 

This Hat was one of my sanity knitting projects when we were in Bologna hospital last January, and it was the Hat he wore when we were allowed off ward for the first time for a few hours, to walk a little, see the sky and get some fresh air. Lots of memories wrapped up in this Hat.

And as I sat here this morning looking at these shots, I remembered I hadn't yet published the pattern for it - and figured that today's a good a day as any!

 

 

And so here's Lumossity :)

 

Happy birthday Aran, our young hero x

ps/ if you knit this Hat, would you please consider donating to your national kidney charity? In the UK you could consider Kidney Research UK, and in the US you might consider the National Kidney Foundation. We don't know yet whether Aran will have chronic kidney disease for life; there are so many variables to consider... they tell us his chances are good but they can't rule it out. Having lived with acute kidney disease for these last 14 months, with 2 uncommon conditions that each consultant that we've seen knows relatively little about, it became pretty clear that more research is needed. Every penny helps :)

Tuesday
Feb172015

Knitted Pleats

I've been thinking about knitted pleats a lot lately. As I've been preparing my older patterns for the new layout (less than a fifth of them to go, nearly done!) I've had illustrations created for those techniques that I don't already have illustrated - and the one I'm working on this week is knitted pleats, for my Pleated Beret pattern.

The Pleated Beret was published 8 years ago, and it never fails to amaze me when I look back at what I was doing back then - using pleats to create a crown shaping is something I'd still enjoy playing with now.

To aid the illustrations I've put together a photo tutorial PDF. The illustrations will only be available in the paid pattern (previous customers will get the update when it's done) or in future designs that use the technique (ideas are starting to form around pleats for Turning Heads) - the PDF photo tutorial will remain free and available for download from here :)

 

 

 

Like the recent free patterns, I'll park this here until the new website is finished - there's no need to be adding to or creating new pages here only to do it all again over there.

And while I'm on the subject of the free patterns and tutorials - for the new site I'm thinking of grouping them together on fewer pages... it'll be much easier for me to manage. The free patterns don't need to have their own page each - the thumbnail photo with yarn weight/gauge & pattern sizes with a download link should be sufficient. And the tutorials can be grouped similarly - I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this. It may well make the pages longer, but it's one click less to find them, and it's many less pages for me to build and maintain.

That's not going to be ready next week, though ;)

Hope you find the tutorial useful.