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.