Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Knitted Slippers

I was putting some of my teaching samples away the other day and came across this pair of knitted slippers which I made about 5 or 6 years ago. They were knitted in 2 strands of a Colinette yarn for the main part of the slipper and then I added Silky Chic around the top (fur yarns were in at the time).

I worked out a pattern from the slippers because a friend had asked me if I could work out how to make them as the lady who used to make them for the charity show was no-longer doing so. I worked out a pattern and made this pair but never used them.

With the snow coming and my feet being cold I found the slippers again and have been wearing them every since. Both the yarns I used for the slippers are wool so they do keep my feet pretty warm in this cold weather.

I thought I would make another pair as they are very useful. With the second pair I knitted them using 1 strand of Artisano Hummingbird DK and 1 strand of Lang Soft Shetland Aran. Alpaca is warmer than wool so I thought a combination of alpaca and wool would work well.

This is the new pair of slippers I made. The combination of yarns was a bit thinner than the original pattern so I used a 7mm needle instead of an 8mm and work the largest size from the pattern I wrote. They worked out fine but were not as thick as my original pair so I gave them to my daughter who was only to happy to have them, and started working on another pair.

In this 3rd pair (which I am still knitting) I'm using the Artesano and Lang yarns again but I have added 1 strand of Rico Superba Poems sock wool to give them a bit more body. I'm using 8mm needles and working the medium size pattern this time. Once I've finished knitting this pair and checking the pattern I will post a picture of the finished slippers and the pattern. It is a very simple and quick pattern worked in garter stitch and it is quite easy to make a pair in an evening.

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Knitting and Stitching Show

I ran the Knitting Surgery at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally again this year. This year the exhibition organisers decided I should be in the same area at the 'Knit 1 Pass it on' UK Handknitters Assocciation stand so that meant my stand was in the Palm Court rather than in one of the exhibition halls. The stand was to the left hand side of the Palm Court, in front of the Tea Room and by one of the cafes.

My DH came to help me put up the stand which is just as well as the stand area and board was not what I was expecting. It was good to have a white backing to the stand but this did cause some problems as I has expected the grey fabric covered panels but I think we managed to put a a pretty good display.

These are some pictures of putting things together on the Wednesday - the table was very useful!

As you can see my stand was more or less in the cafe area which did make it difficult at times for people to get to the stand.

Despite some of the problems with the position of my stand quite a few people did manage to find me even if it was on their way out and i was able to help quite a few people with their knitting problems.

I will be running the Knitting Surgery at the Stitch and Creative Craft Show, Sandown Park, in January and at Unravel in Farnham in February.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Just Catching up

I suddenly seem to have got very busy again. The autumn is always pretty busy as the weather is not so nice for being in the garden and knitters get back to their knitting.

I have been booked to teach quite a few workshops and give talks on both hand and machine knitting over the next few months. If anyone is interested in where I'm teaching there is a full list on my website. In fact today I'm off to Birmingham to teach a workshop on Patchwork/Domino knitting to the Middland Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers. I'm sure it will be a good day as I always enjoy teaching the Patchwork knitting workshops; everyone's work is so different!

After a 2 month break over the summer we are also back to filming for Knit1.TV. This last week I filmed two demos of knitting Christmas Decorations. I know its only September but I'm teaching a workshop on Christmas Knitting at the InterKnit Cafe in Farnham at the beginning of October so I thought I would film knitting a couple of the samples I've designed for the workshops. When the films are up the patterns for the 2 samples - a knitted bauble and a knitted angel - will be available to download from the Knit1.TV website.

That's it for now as I need to go to Birmingham now!!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Doing some machine knitting

I'm a member of the Guild of Machine Knitters as well as the Knitting and Crochet Guild and the Weavers Spinners and Dyers Online Guild. Having been a member of the WSD Online Guild for several years I've run a couple of knitting workshops for them so I suggested doing the same for the Guild of Machine Knitters.

So this month I am running the first machine knitting workshop for the Guild. The choice of subject was left to me so I decided to take this opportunity to explore one punchcard and knit it in as many variations as I can think of. I've started with Fair Isle as this is the stitch pattern most people use on their machines. I posted the first few files on the Yahoo groups website last week.

I've been busy knitting tuck stitch and slip stitch samples over the last few days, trying lost of variations with solid colours and with 2 or more colours. I've still got to write up the notes so i better get back to work as I'll need to upload these files later this week, but its been good to do some machine knitting again even if it is only samples!!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Talk to Taunton Machine Knitting Club

I'm off to Taunton today to do two talks to Taunton Machine Knitting Club. This afternoon I'm talking about using beads with knitting and other ways to embellish your knitting. Although it is a machine knitting club I will also be talking about using beads with hand knitting as the techniques vary between the 2 knitting methods. The embellishments part of the talk is the same however the knitted fabric has been made.

This evening I will be talking about 'Don't Throw it, Fix it', it is a talk that covers ways of altering or updating finished items so you are happy to wear (or use) the garment rather than throwing it away.

I'llhave to make a fairly early start to get there for 1.30!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Teaching a new workshop today

I'm off to the Interknit Cafe in Farnham to teach a workshop on Embellishing your Knitting. In the workshop I'm focusing on embroidery and applique as there isn't time to do all the different ways of embellishing your knitting e.g. painting, crochet, needlefelting, machine embroidery to mention just a few other techniques.

The workshop has a sort of floral/nature theme as I wrote an article for Knitting Magazine on Swiss Darning (published in the August 2010 issue I think) and used a floral image in the article. I showed three versions of the same image in the article. The first version below was worked from a chart drawn on graph paper with larger squares so the finished piece comes out smaller and has less detail.

The second sample, stitches on a piece of knitting worked in the same yarn as above was stitched from a chart drawn on graph paper with smaller rectangles therefore giving a larger finished design with more detail.
The 3rd sample was worked from a chart drawn on the same scale graph paper as sample 2 but the image has been flipped and rotated so it is drawn landscape style rather than portrait style. Knitting is not square so it was necessary to re-draw the chart.

Having started with a flora theme I decided to continue with this influence for the other 2 samples I've made for the workshop. I designed them as cushion fronts. The sample below is applique and I've gone for an autumn leaves theme. I worked several different leaf shapes and some acorns. A couple of the leaf patterns and the acorns where from the Nicky Epstein book 'Knitting Embellishments'.

The last sample which is another cushion front uses embroidery stitches in various ways. The top left and bottom right squares are embroidered based on a knitted stitch pattern to help with the placement of the embroidery. Montse Stanley's book 'Knitting Plus' has lots of ideas of using a stitch pattern to base the embroidery on.
The top left square is a number of embroidery stitches based on backstitch or running stitch with a second colour emboidered on top and the bottom left square was freehand embroidery using lazy daisy stitch, feather stitch, chain stitch and French knots.

As with most of my knitting workshops I like to give the knitters a choice (within limits) of what they want to do as everyone is different. Lets hope the knitters enjoy there day!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Knit Nation

A month or so ago I decided as I was free I would attend some classes at Knit Nation, the knitting event at Imperial College. I've just got back from the event and enjoyed it very much. Although I am a knitting teacher it is quite nice sometimes to just go and be a student myself and as the tutors at Knit Nation where mainly over from the USA I thought it would be a great opportunity to do classes with people I'm not likely to see again.

The first class I did was on Thursday and was Baltic Braids and Bobbles with Nancy Bush. We knitted the sampler below which included a special braid cast on, several different braids and some nupps. I worked out a 2-colour cast off with one of the braids to finish the sample. Most of the braids where taken from Estonian knitting but one was from Latvia.
During the day Nancy talked about her research in to Etonian knitting which was very interesting. She had quite a few samples of mittens, gloves and socks although she wasn't able to bring the number of samples she usually has with her. As a result of the class I decided to buy her book 'Folk Knitting in Estonia'
On Friday I booked to do just a morning class to give me time to look around the marketplace in the afternoon. I booked to do 'Fiendishly Difficult Stitches' with Merike Saarnitt. Below is the sample we knitted in class. At the beginning of the class Merike said students don't usually finish the sample in the class time - so there was my first challenge. I did finish my sample as did the lady next to me but most of the students completed 3 out of the 4 stitch samples.
I wouldn't have said they where 'fiendishly' difficult but the stitches where more complicated than some and as I hadn't tried most of them before it was an interesting class.

The shell pattern above (called Alsacian Scallop border' in the handout) is also in one of the Barbara Walker books. Merike is originally from Estonia so the remaining 3 stitches are Estonian.

This detail above is called Estonian Embrace Cable and involves manipulating long stitches to create the cable look.

This next sample was Estonian Butterfly on open ground and is very similar to a sample I recently knitted called 'moth stitch'. In this sample the long loops are made by dropping 2 stitches and knitting around all the dropped loops.

The last stitch pattern in the sample was Berry Kisses. The charts for both this and the stitch pattern above where drawn to be knitted as each row is seen i.e. on a wrong side row a horizontal bar for a purl stitch on RS and knit stitch on WS did mean purl on the WS. This was a bit confusing to start with if you are used to the convention of drawing charts to show the stitch pattern as it is viewed from the right side. After starting to the knit the butterfly pattern I realised after a few rows that the chart was different from normal. That's what comes of getting ahead of the rest of the class instead of being a 'good student'!!!
There where quite a few stands in the market place. There where a lot of indy dyers so lots of sock yarn and lace weight yarn. I decided I didn't need any more sock or lace yarn so I didn't buy any yarn but I did buy 2 books. The Nancy Bush book mentioned above and 'The Intentional Spinner' by Judith MacKenzie McCuin. This book has a lot of information about fibres and methods of spinning so I thought it would be very useful.

The workshop on Saturday was 'Top down Aran Cardigan' with Beth Brown-Reinsel and again I really enjoyed this class. Beth was very knowledgeable about her subject and provided lots of information during the day. She also provided a very comprehensive handout for us to take home.

There wasn't time to knit the complete cardigan in the 6 hour class but I did knit the saddle shoulder pieces, most of the back, the 2 fronts and the neckband. There where different cable patterns on each piece so we were able to try out quite a few variations. Beth explained how to finish of the sleeves for the sample and pick up stitches for the button and buttonhole bands.

I wasn't able to stay for the Ravelry party on Saturday evening but I'm sure everyone had a good time. This was a very enjoyable and well organised event so I hope it becomes a regular event.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Alpaca Shawl

Before going to France to teach on the French Treats Holiday I started to knit a triangular shawl using the same lace patterns as I used in the scarf project and the lace weight alpaca yarn from Fibre Harvest. I knitted quite a bit of the shawl while I was in France but didn't manage to finish it until I got back home.

I hadn't planned out the shawl beyond the basic idea of starting at the centre and increasing out in 2 triangles using the diamond pattern to start with and then changing to the pillars pattern. I wanted another variation of the pattern to finish the shawl. The first version I tried didn't look right as the lace pattern became to 'heavy' i.e. too much stocking stitch, so i undid that part and tried again finishing with the pillar patterns being drawn into points. (see the detail further down this post).

I persuaded my daughter to model the shawl for me!! which she does very well.

These are some photos of the shawl as it was blocked out to dry. I bought some large rubberised floor mats which slot together and if you use them on the 'wrong' side you can pin into the surface quite well. 4 mats joined together gave me a large enough surface to pin out the shawl. It does make a big difference to the finished piece to wash it and block it out to shape as it opens out the lace as well as giving the decorative edge detail.

Detail of the diamond lace pattern,

Detail of the pillar and edge lace pattern.

Having knitted the shawl I now need to write the pattern properly. It will be interesting to write as it is mostly charts and I haven't written this type of pattern before. Sometimes it is much easier to just knit something and then write the pattern although you do need to keep good notes!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Designs for French Treats Holiday

I was asked to teach 2 specific workshops on the French Treats holiday, one on lace knitting and one on knitting with beads. We agreed to use the yarn from Fibre Harvest/John Arbon Textiles so I visited their stand at the Unravel Show in Farnham in February. They spin a variety of yarns including a number of Alpaca and Alpaca mix yarns.

For the workshops I felt it would be a good idea to design a couple of project that could be started on the holiday and completed at home. Lace knitting using fine lace eight yarn has become quite popular so I decided I would use the UK Alpaca Superfine 2/12nm 3ply yarn for the projects I would design. This 90% alpaca yarn from Fibre Harvest comes in a small selection of colours.

I designed the scarf first. It uses 2 lace patterns, one called diamonds and the other called pillars. The pillars pattern is an extension of the diamond pattern so they are linked. The scarf I knitted uses both patterns but you could knit it in one or other pattern throughout.

The diamond pattern

The pillars pattern.

This alpaca yarn comes in a 100gm skein so there was plenty of yarn to make the scarf and a pair of beaded mittens. The scarf I knitted took about 45gms of yarn.

The other workshop I taught was beaded knitting so I designed these mittens. I ended up making 2 versions, one using one strand of yarn and the other using 2 strands of the lace weight yarn. They are both knitted to the same pattern but the single strand mitten comes out finer and a bit smaller than the 2 strand version.
The single strand version need to be knitted on 2.5mm needles and as the knitters attending the holiday had not been told to bring such small needles I designed the 2 strand version to be knitted on 3mm needles.

The picture above is the 2 strand version of the mitten and the picture blow is the single strand version. I also used a picot cast on to make the mitten look more decorative and in the single strand version I used a picot cast off as well.

From the feedback I go both designs were very well received by those attending the holiday even though they would have to complete both projects at home.

More from French Treats

I've been very busy recently so have only just got around to uploading the rest of the photos from France. Wednesday morning was a workshop on knitted and crocheted flowers with Sasha.

In the afternoon we had an impromptu workshop on spinning using drop spindles provided by Sandra who is a spinner and lives near Le Veiux Monastere. There was some alpaca/blue faced Leicester tops included in the goody bags, hence the spinning workshop.

That evening we all went out to a lovely restaurant in the local town for a very good meal. The divers took a group photo for us.
Thursday morning was my workshop on beaded knitting. I designed a mitten as the project to make which could be made with the same yarn as I used for the lace scarf project. There was plenty of yarn to complete both projects from the one skein of yarn.

You can see some of the beaded knitted samples I brought with me.
In the afternoon we went to the Roman town of Sainte for a look around and to visit a couple of yarn shops. There was a small yarn shop in town which didn't have a big selection but did have some interesting yarn. It also had a great selection of buttons although some were very pricey.

The other yarn shop was out of town so we took a detour on our way back to visit this shop. It had a wide range of basic yarn, mainly Berge de France which did include their new Origins range. There weren't any specialist or hand dyed yarns but the French do seem to stick to fairly basic yarns.

Friday was our last full day. After chatting with everyone on the previous evening we changed the Friday workshop to being a 'design a garment to incorporate what you have learnt this week' This workshop went very well and rounded of the week as everyone was able to go away with an idea of something they could make once they got home.

We continued the design workshop after lunch and then towards the end of the afternoon we asked everyone to pin up what they had done over the week. It is always great to see what everyone has done and to realise we did cover quite a bit.
These photos show quite a bit of the work completed by everyone over the holiday.

It was a very enjoyable week of teaching. The ladies who attended the week made it a very enjoyable and fun week.
I have been invited to teach on the French Treats Holiday in June next year so put 4th June 2011 in your diaries as the date of the next holiday.

Friday, 11 June 2010

French Treats Day 3 and 4

Monday was a busy day with knitting workshops in the morning and afternoon. Sasha started off the day with a workshop on Pockets and Pleats and in the afternoon I taught a workshop on Lace knitting with a straight scarf pattern.

The workshops went well with several people continuing to work on their pieces in the evening but most just relaxing after a long but enjoyable day.
On Tuesday we had a 'day off'. People could continue with their projects from the day before in the morning and then at 11.30 we met at the buses for an excursion to Mornac sur Seudre, a fishing and artisan village south of La Rochelle near the Ile D'Oleron. We arrived about 12.30 to 1.00 and had lunch in a very nice restaurant (the middle building in the picture below)

After lunch we had a wonder around the village. It was very picturesque, lots of photo opportunities and inspiration. The shops didn't open till after 3.00pm so we spent most of the time looking around.

There where some lovely hollyhocks growing by various buildings

Looking at the angel of some of the pillars it was amazing the old market place was still standing!

Some of the pieces in one of the art shops.

and a very pretty passion flower.

Some members of the group were tempted to buy cloths and other bits and pieces but I just settled for a coffee and crepe before returning to the bus at about 4.30.