Introducing Rockrose…..

So, I’ve been dropping hints about exciting new things for the past few weeks and now, finally I am ready to show one of them to you!

Introducing Rockrose, a delicate lace weight wrap, knitted in Fyberspates Gleem Lace with an original lace patterned border using Estonian stitches…..

Rockrose Wrap by Charlotte Walford

Copyright Fyberspates 2014

Rockrose is the first pattern in my collection of floral inspired lace designs and a product of my continuing obsession with the design possibilities of Estonian lace stitches (which involve increasing rapidly into one, two or three stitches), which you can see in this close up of the border pattern.

Rockrose Wrap by Charlotte Walford

Copyright Fyberspates 2014

These stitches continue to fascinate me, because they present so many design possibilities, which I first explored in my Cleome shawl design a couple of years ago. I find that they lend themselves perfectly to floral inspired lace patterns, as you can represent blooming flowers really beautifully as well as distorting the fabric into waves and ripples to make the most of hand dyed yarns, like the yarn I chose for this design, Fyberspates Gleem Lace.

As well as hankering after designing something with Estonian stitches again, I wanted to play with transitions between different stitch patterns.  By modifying one pattern to blend into the next one you can create really interesting effects and fun juxtapositions between stitches.

So I started a (not that) little experimental swatch:

Evolving stitch patterns

Evolving stitch patterns
Swatch design and photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

Note the difference in width between the different stitch patterns, despite all patterns using the same needle size and number of stitches.

Yes, I know, I didn’t block it (naughty me), but I just wanted to get an idea of some of the possibilities of different stitches (which I made up as I went along), making small alterations to each one until I had definite favourites (as well as some never-agains!).  I didn’t frog the swatch back at any point and I’m glad I didn’t, as it will be interesting to look back on it (perhaps some of the other motifs will make their way into another design?).

One swatch wasn’t enough though…. so…..

The stitch evolution continues...

The stitch evolution continues…
Swatch design and photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

By this point I’d got a much better idea of the stitches I wanted to combine, so this swatch refined those ideas (you can see that the flame shaped stitches didn’t make it into the final design).  Once I’d finished this swatch though, there was no time for sketching.  I already knew what the wrap was going to look like and I never intended to submit the design, so I just got out my yarn and got started!

Why the rush?  Well, my friend Jenny was getting married the next month and I needed a wrap to wear with my dress for her impending nuptials (I think this is what you call making an effort with your outfit).  The Sea Green Gleem Lace was a perfect match for the emerald green colour in the fabric of my dress, so the yarn decision was easy.  See what I mean?  Perfect!  (No point in trying to match the yellow-green shade in the print, that would only make me look sickly.)

Gleem Lace with my favourite dress

Gleem Lace with my favourite dress!

‘Do you have any pictures of the wrap with the dress?’ I hear you ask?  Erm… sorry, no, not any that I took (I was having too much fun), so this will have to do.

So, I should probably tell you more about the wrap now, right?

It begins at the centre with a provisional crochet cast on (fully explained in the pattern) and is then worked outwards in two identical halves, starting with a simple lace pattern reminiscent of leaves, which then transitions smoothly into a gently undulating pattern of petals (worked using the aforementioned Estonian stitches) and finishes with a delicate edging of blooms and a beaded picot cast off (you could leave the beads out, but it does add a pleasing weight to the ends of the wrap, helping it hang nicely).  The length of the wrap is easily altered and instructions are provided in the pattern for doing so.  This length is perfect both for wearing as a stole and for wrapping round your neck and wearing as a scarf.

Rockrose Wrap by Charlotte Walford

Copyright Fyberspates 2014

A few weeks after the wedding I took my wrap with me to the Pop Up Wool show and showed it to the lovely Jeni of Fyberspates.  She loved it and asked if she could borrow it as they were having a photoshoot for some new Fyberspates patterns the next week.  Obviously I said yes, so thank you Jeni, for letting me use your lovely photos!  It also gave me the necessary motivation to get on and get the pattern tested and tech edited ready for it’s release.

Rockrose Wrap by Charlotte Walford

Copyright Fyberspates 2014

Anyway, enough of my waffling about design stories.  (I hope you’ve found the process behind the design interesting.)

The Rockrose Wrap is available on Ravelry here, and until midnight GMT (clocks go back this weekend in the UK) Sunday 26th October you can get £1.00 GBP off the pattern!  Just add the pattern to your cart and enter the code GleemLace at the checkout and the discount will be applied (do not use the buy it now feature, or you will be taken straight to Paypal).

Wildflower The Lace Collection Sneak Peek

Wildflower: The Lace Collection Sneak Peek!
Photo and designs copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

Or you can buy the whole of the ‘Wildflower: The Lace Collection’ eBook here (making a saving on buying the patterns individually) and each pattern will be delivered to your Ravelry library on it’s release.  Eventually there will be at least six different designs available in the collection, which can be purchased individually or as an eBook.  You can find more details on what to expect from the collection here.

I really hope you like the design, self-publishing is fun, but nerve-wracking!

Thanks for reading :)

Lottie x

Boo! Ocean Breeze!

The parade of projects from my blog hiatus continues!

This time it’s a rather pretty shawl:

Posh Ocean Breeze

This is my version of Ocean Breeze by Boo Knits, knitted in some rather indulgent Posh Yarn Robynn Sock (100% silk) and Posh Yarn Tabitha Sock (silk and mohair) in a beautiful deep pink shade called ‘May Day Is Lei Day In Hawaii’, with size 5/0 Miyuki triangle beads in Cranberry/Crystal from Crystals and Ice (their service is really good, I can’t praise them highly enough).

Posh Ocean Breeze

If you’re not familiar with Posh Yarn, it’s divine, hand dyed yarn, available in one off, non-repeatable colours (hence the unusual names).  Buying Posh Yarn does require a bit of dedication and possibly ninja skills or fighter pilot standard reactions!  Their shop is updated every Sunday evening at 7pm (details of the upcoming updates can be found on their website as well as their fun and friendly Ravelry group) and with all the yarn being dyed in beautiful one off shades (and no more than 10 skeins of each one available) it sells out within minutes.  I was lucky enough to snag this yarn in a destash, it was one of just a few sets of matching yarn dyed especially for the Boo Knits Midsummer Ocean Breeze KAL.

Posh Ocean Breeze in progress

This in progress photo shows the colour a little better (it’s really difficult to capture it accurately, it’s a bit pinker and less red than most of these photos, but perhaps not quite as pink as the picture above).

Posh Ocean Breeze

This is the second knit-a-long I’ve done this year, and while I did enjoy it, I think I enjoyed the Ysolda Follow Your Arrow KAL more.  The pattern parts were released every few days as well, so not much time between clues, which meant I had absolutely no chance of keeping up!  (Though I did start a week late, as I had something else to finish first for a deadline.)  Also most parts of the pattern were fairly similar to the last part, so while it was a mystery, none of it was that surprising (not that that is necessarily a bad thing, the pattern flows nicely and isn’t disjointed like some patterns which were designed for knit-a-longs).

Posh Ocean Breeze

I think that while I like the crescent shape of the shawl, I’m not keen on the bump at the top of the shawl (which you can see at the top of this photo), despite my best efforts to block it out.  I think it would be better to work a longer garter stitch tab and pick up more stitches from the sides of it to eliminate the bump.  Alternatively, I think it would be less noticeable if the main body of the shawl was worked in garter stitch, as the rows aren’t as tall.  If I made another one, I would definitely fiddle about with the pattern to improve this as it really does get on my nerves!  (I’m fussy I know!)

But on the whole I’m pleased with it.  The lace is very pretty and delicate, it’s a lovely big shawl and drapes beautifully (helped by the beads and the silk based yarns), but I’m not sure I’d make another.  It’s perhaps a little big for my petite 5’3″ frame (thought I could fix that by using smaller needles) and I would prefer a slightly denser fabric (most of the shawl is knitted on 4mm and 4.5mm needles, which I think makes the fabric a little loose and not as neat as it could be, especially under the weight of almost 800 beads).  I do like some of the other Boo Knits designs though, so I’m not ruling out trying another design, but I’d definitely alter the start to eliminate this annoying bump.

Next time, I’ll show you the project that kept me busy before this!  I’m pretty excited about it :)

Lottie x

Finally… Hadlow Cowl!

So, here it comes, the first of those exciting new things I’ve been telling you about…..

…. drumroll please…. may I present my new pattern, the Hadlow Cowl!

Hadlow Cowl

Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

….. and my new Ravelry group:

Lottieknits Ravelry group

Oh yes, it’s all kicking off today!

To launch my new pattern (hopefully the first of many) and Ravelry group, I’ll be holding a KAL for this speedy cowl in the group.

To help you join in, you can get the pattern free until midnight BST (British Summer Time) Saturday 11th October 2014 by adding the pattern to your cart and entering the code HadlowKAL at the checkout. 

A very straightforward pattern, this cowl is designed as a stashbuster and the pattern includes instructions for a wide range of yarn weights, from light DK/sport weight right up to chunky (as shown in the cowl above, knitted in the very snuggly Debbie Bliss Paloma).  I made this cowl in an evening, so it’s perfect for quick festive gifts, for those of you who prefer to make them.

The cowl is worked in the round using a clever technique called helical stripes, which eliminates the annoying ‘jogs’ you get at the beginning of each round.  Not tried helical stripes before?  No problem!  The pattern walks you through it, and if you need more help, you can join the KAL and I’ll help you out.

Hadlow Cowl

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

There are two versions, a short version, shown above (designed to use two 50g skeins of the same or similar yarns in contrasting colours), and a long version (which you can wrap twice round your neck), shown below (designed to use two 100g skeins), so you can dig out those pretty skeins in your stash that called to you in the shop but you’ve not yet found a pattern for, as well as those odd leftover balls that you just had to keep.  If you’re anything like me, you probably tend to buy the same colours most of the time, so you might find that some of those leftovers go perfectly together!

It even works well in self striping yarns (this one is knitted in Noro Kogarashi):

Hadlow Cowl

Photo Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I’m so glad this pattern has finally been released, it’s been along time coming!  I made the cowls last year, when wondering what to do with some of the odd skeins of pretty yarn in my stash, managed to get it tested before Christmas, and was then completely overwhelmed by deadlines for magazine designs, so it went on the back burner.  Then the weather was warming up, so I thought I’d better wait until autumn!  Never mind, having found a lovely tech editor, the pattern is finally ready, so I got there in the end.

Enjoy!

Lottie x

 

Foxy Loxy!

The parade of projects I’ve made while absent from my blog continues!  I’d planned to post this last week, but working on exciting new things has rather got in the way….. but more about the first of those things tomorrow (I know, making you all wait, I’m such a tease).

A few months ago, Knit Now magazine dropped through my letterbox, with a fun little surprise…. a knitting kit!

Now, I’m not usually one for making stuff that comes free with magazines, because usually (wild generalisation alert) the yarn is not especially nice and I don’t particularly want to knit or wear anything made of acrylic when I have a stash of much nicer yarn, just waiting to be knitted up and more ideas than I have time to make (there’s no pleasing some people).

But this kit was different.

For a start the yarn was wool blend and actually quite nice!  and then there was the pattern (Finlay Fox by Barbara Prime), which was more cute than I could handle.  Also, I had some spare safety eyes and toy stuffing in my stash from making a pair of PG Tips/ITV digital monkeys way back when.  I’d just finished a big knitting project too (more about that next week) and wanted to make something quick and slightly silly so it was just meant to be!

First there was a body (knitted flat, with an intarsia patch for his pale tummy):

Finlay the fox kit

Then a bushy foxy tail, some cute pointy ears and little arms……

Fred-in-progress

I decided to sew each piece up as I went along, because although I don’t hate sewing up, or fear it at all, there’s always quite a bit of making up involved in toy patterns, so it doesn’t seem quite such a slog or a test of endurance if you space it out a little.

……. And before I knew it, he was done!

Finished Fred!

I’m particularly pleased with his expression.  Normally I spend ages sewing facial features on to toys, only for them to look weird, so I have to start again.  This process is repeated until either a) I’m happy with it, or b) I’m so sick of the sight of it that I don’t care any more.  I think it’s only been the latter once before, but I do tend to persevere, even if I’m pretty fed up with it, because I’m a perfectionist.  On this occasion I got it right first time!  Yay!

Then, inevitably, I had to name him.  Or, to be more precise, somebody did.  The task fell to my brother (the prospective owner), who decided on Fred, because alliteration is the best strategy for naming such things!

I even took Fred to work, so everyone could have a good gawp at him.  Here he is enjoying some lovely colourful yarn!

Fred at Stash

Isn’t he cute?  You can see Fred on Ravelry here.

Tomorrow, exciting new things…. all together now…. wooooooo!

Lottie x

Meet Sidney!

Yesterday I said that the BAAAA sheep shawl would bring me rather neatly on to the next project that I have to share with you.

So, here it/he is, lounging nonchalantly next to some of my stash…….

Sidney the sheep!

Meet Sidney! (Photo Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014)

Meet Sidney the Suffolk Sheep (alliteration is always important when it comes to naming things)!  He’s knitted in Rowan’s lovely Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK (now sadly discontinued I think) in shades #780/Ecru Blue Faced Leicester and #781/Brown Blue Faced Leicester, so he really is all sheep!

Sidney had been on my needles for quite some time (Since April 2011 to be precise – pre-blog!) so he really deserved to stop being a WIP (work in progress) and become a finished sheep.

I’d finished Sidney’s body and head before he went into hibernation, which are cunningly made in one piece thanks to Janice Anderson’s clever pattern, but I hadn’t knitted his legs or ears.  Poor legless Sidney.

Sidney-in-progress

So, to avoid the tedium of having to do all the fiddly sewing up and stuffing at the end, I decided to sew up and stuff the body and head before knitting the legs, hoping that this would motivate me to finish him.  It worked!  Once I’d made something that looked more sheep-like I really wanted to get him finished.  I made the ears and sewed them on.  This did make him look a little like a rabbit, but I was informed by my brother (the intended recipient – there is a bit of a family in-joke that results in occasionally exchanging sheep related items – yes we are completely sane) that this merely gave him character and that I was therefore forbidden to change them.

Awaiting an expression!

Soon, the legs were done and sewn up.  This was a bit of a fiddle, as you have to sew them using mattress stitch and then turn them inside out (easier said than done on such a narrow piece of knitting) so the seams are on the outside of the leg.  You then have to turn up a sort section at the end of the leg to form cute little hooves.  The upside of this is that the legs are not stuffed, so less faffing there.  Also I think it adds even more character!

Finished!

Next, it was on to his facial features, so I tried to give him a mischievous expression to match those impish ears.  Feeling that he needed a little something extra, I decided to knit a jaunty little red neckerchief out of some leftover yarn, making it up as I went along.

Every sheep about town needs a neckerchief!

Every sheep about town needs a neckerchief!

His ears never did lie flat….

Lottie x

Guess who’s back……

…. back again….. err.. me!  (Points to you if you’re humming Eminem right now – I’m showing my age.)

I’m sorry my absence has been rather protracted.  Life seems to have got in the way and my enthusiasm for blogging has waned accordingly.

But I haven’t stopped knitting and I also have some rather exciting news of a self-publishing nature to share with you very soon!  But first, what have I been knitting?

Well, I don’t think I ever properly showed you my finished Follow Your Arrow KAL shawl (a fab pattern by Ysolda Teague)….

Follow Your Arrow KAL

This was a really fun and interesting knit.  Unlike many mystery KALs (knit-a-longs) this one had options!  So for each of the five clues you had a choice of either option A or option B, giving a huge variety of finished shawls.

Follow Your Arrow KAL

There were also one of two colour options…… at this point the more observant amongst you may have noticed something about my shawl…… yes, I used three colours.  Why?  Because I’m impossible and almost incapable of following a pattern without changing something, and I had three colours of the same yarn (Araucania Botany Lace) kicking about in my stash, which would go perfectly with one of my dresses, not the one in the picture above (a happy accident), but this one:

Follow Your Arrow KAL

It’s got budgies on it… I know, amazing!

I seem to have amassed rather a collection of dresses with birds on!  But you know the best thing about this shawl?  Because of the options I chose for each of the clues, I ended up making a BAAAA shawl, entirely by accident.  A sheep shawl, made of wool, perfect!  Which brings me neatly on to the next project I have to share with you…. but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for that.

Lottie x

5KBCWDAY7 – Back to the Future

Today’s blogging topic is to look back at your aims at the end of the last Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and see if you have achieved them, and then look forward to next year and write about what you hope to have achieved by then.

Obviously I’m *such* a good girl that I will have done exactly what I said last year.  *cough*

Unfortunately last year I said this:

So what do I want to do by this time next year?  My main aim (but please don’t judge me if I don’t manage it) is to try knitting socks.

Oh dear.

Well, if you’ve been a committed follower of my blog since then you’ve probably guessed that I haven’t managed this.  In fact I’ve not got further than this:

Socks in progress

Look, I tried!  I cast on two pairs, but I’ve not finished a single sock from either of them.

The dark purple yarn loses alarming amounts of colour, which has put me off.  After knitting just a few rounds I look like I’ve been working in a beetroot processing factory (if such a thing exists).  Also the sock is quite small and inelastic because of the cables.  The plan is to finish this sock and wash it to make sure it doesn’t shrink at all before I cast on the next one.  But I plan to re-skein the remaining yarn and wash it before casting on the second sock.

The green sock is a variation on Milfoil by Rachel Coopey (if you’ve not come across her designs before, you should check them out because they really are amazing).  You’re supposed to make two similar but non matching socks, but I really don’t think I can stand having non matching socks, so I’ve altered the pattern so that the socks will match (because I’m fussy like that).  but the small needles and fiddly pattern means that I’ve not yet managed to get into a good knitting rhythm with these, so they’ve gone on the back burner for now.  The yarn is such an amazing springy green though!

I’m still not really sold on the idea of knitting socks and hiding all that work on your feet, but I also think that there are some incredibly beautiful sock patterns available and I don’t want to miss out.  So overall my feelings are still mixed, just like last year.

Do I get points for effort?  Come on, I cast on two pairs…. please?  *looks hopeful*

On Day 2 of last year’s Blog Week, I also planned to cast on a shawl with this yarn:

Easyknits Sushi Shawl Roll

I was thinking about this:

But which pattern?

How about Lyrica Euterpe by Romi Hill? I like these sort of little shawls and wear them a lot as scarves, and this has an interesting construction, beginning with a semi-circle and then switching to a traditional central spine in the lace border. You can also add beads, although as the yarn is busy that might be a bit much!

But, predictably I haven’t cast it on.  I still like the shawl though, but I’m undecided about the yarn.

So, overall a miserable failure.  Hey ho.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  My knitting ambitions far outweigh the time I have to knit and it wasn’t as if I didn’t knit, I just knitted other things.  Since this time last year, I’ve done several new designs (which I’m proud of) and seen them published in magazines, pattern leaflet and books, so I can’t complain.  I still enjoy knitting, even though having your hobby as a career/job (hobby: knitting, day job: work in a yarn shop, self-employment: knitwear design) makes it difficult to switch off sometimes and manage your time effectively (self-employed people are their own worst bosses – you wouldn’t put up with having to work evenings, weekends and until 1am for anyone else, or expect someone else to do that for you, but I still expect that from myself).

What do I want to have done by next year?  Well judging by last year, mentioning anything specific seems to doom it to failure, so I think I’ll just settle for trying to improve my work/knit/life balance….. hahahahaha!

Did you achieve your goals from last year?

Lottie x

 

5KCBWDAY6 – A knitter’s story

Firstly, apologies.  I started writing this yesterday but it got a bit long winded (as posts often do when I don’t know what to write and go off on a tangent) so it’s up a little late.  It’s probably the most personal post I’ve ever written and perhaps will ever write. 

It’s the penultimate day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 (wow, that went fast)!  Today’s task is to write about a knitter or crocheter that you admire.  But, because I’m contrary I’m going to bend the rules again, just a little bit.

You see, as I only started knitting properly when I was 20 and I taught myself, so not only have I spent much more of my life not knitting than knitting (although I find it impossible to imagine not being a knitter now), but I don’t really have anyone that I can say taught me anything in particular about knitting itself.  Books were my teachers!  So instead I’m going to write about people who inspired me to craft in general, because they are all special.

I suppose the first thing that made me fascinated with making things as a child was going to playgroup (pre-school) and messing about with paint.  We used to do string painting, where you put pieces of string in paint and sandwiched them in a folded piece of paper to make a pattern.  I had an easel at home too with a blackboard on one side and a place to hold paper on the other.  There are pictures of me in the back garden wearing one of my Dad’s old shirts and grinning while painting at said easel.  So it’s fair to say I enjoyed crafty things from a pretty young age.

My first memories of knitting are not of the process, but of the finished product.

My Mum used to knit (although by the time I learnt to knit she hadn’t knitted for some years) and when I was about three she knitted me a rabbit for Easter, which become my favourite cuddly toy.  It had it’s own dress and shoes and I can remember frequently pestering her for a set of clothes for it in another colour!  But I don’t remember seeing my Mum knitting as she tended to knit things for me in secret so it would be a surprise.  When I was in the Brownies (a part of the Girl Guides for girls from about 7 to 11 years old) she knitted me a Brownie from a Jean Greenhowe pattern which even included a tiny replica of the badge for my group within the brownies (a green pixie).  Despite all this, she will tell you that she is not creative!

My Grandma can knit too, but like my Mum, she doesn’t knit anymore.  She once told me that as a girl she used to knit gloves and found it so tedious that each finger she knitted would get progressively shorter, because she was so desperate to finish!  I suppose that when knitting is a necessity it loses some of it’s charm.

Friendship bracelet

My first experience of fibre related crafts, like many girls, was making friendship bracelets.  My friend Jenny used to make them using embroidery threads in bright colours and I wanted to make some too, so when I was about 10 years old I bought a little book (which I still have) with instructions for making several designs which came with a little kit with five differently coloured threads.  I can still make a simple one in about half an hour!

Later I also learnt macramé from a wonderful teacher at primary school called Miss Moores who taught an after school art class, something that I really enjoyed.

By the time I was 14 I’d learnt to make earrings as well as friendship bracelets and I used to sell them to the other girls at school.  I would save up my pocket money to buy beads and jewellery findings and then spend the money I made on more (perhaps not the best business model!).  I really enjoyed making things, both the process and the finished items.

Crafts took a back seat when I went to University (to do something serious and not at all creative) although I did still make jewellery occasionally.

Then, when I was home in the holidays during my second year I found an old knitting kit with dreadful instructions, which I had been given some years before.  I had tried to knit before from this kit as a child but had been defeated by it.  I found a knitting book of my Mum’s and after she’d helped me fix a few mistakes, I started knitting a tiny 10 stitch wide strip of garter stitch.  I remember thinking that 10 stitches was an awful lot and each row seemed to take forever (of course this seems utterly ridiculous now).

First piece of knitting

I took the kit back with me to Uni and kept knitting until all the yarn was used.  When I’d finished I had a pathetic, inch wide strip of knitting that was very loose at the cast on end and  extremely tight at the other (no wonder the rows seemed to take so long), with all the stitches knitted through the back of the loop.

A couple of months later I got Glandular Fever and became very poorly (partly because without a diagnosis I couldn’t give a proper reason for any absences, so being a committed swot I just tried to keep going).  By the time I had a diagnosis I had made myself much worse and I had no choice but to go home to recover.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I wouldn’t end up going back to Uni.  By the time term was due to start I wasn’t even close to being well enough to go back and eventually when it became clear that my recovery would not be quick I had to give up my course.

A few months after I became ill one of our neighbours noticed some earrings my Mum was wearing, which I had made for her and suggested I might like to sell them at the local Country Market (formerly W.I. – Women’s Institute – Market) which met one morning every week.

With trepidation I went along and it was there that my interest in knitting was re-ignited.  Some of the ladies there were very experienced knitters and I was fascinated by the things they could make, some more traditional and some much more modern.  One week one of the ladies brought along a pair of purple elbow length fingerless mittens with ribbon lacing.  I thought these were amazing and resolved to buy them if they were left a closing time.

They weren’t.  So I decided I would have to learn to knit so I could make some myself (I never did make the gloves, but I did buy a pair from her later).  I got a book out of the library and started learning again (I had to start from scratch as I’d forgotten how to knit).  I made a few awful things from squeaky DK acrylic that I bought from the local hardware shop (!) and then I bought a book called The Knitter’s Bible by Claire Crompton and learnt everything in it.  It was a slow process as going to the market took a lot of my energy at the time.

Two and a half years after first becoming ill I still wasn’t well and was diagnosed with M.E./C.F.S. which is common after Glandular Fever.  But I was hooked on knitting and had started designing my own patterns because I couldn’t find any that I liked.

Three and a half years after becoming ill I finally felt well enough (although not better) to be able to get a job.  I applied for a job at Stash Fine Yarns and took all the things I’d designed with me to prove that I knew what I was talking about.  There I met Helen and Steve, who would become my bosses.  Helen had suffered very poor health herself and kindly agreed to give me a chance.  She was interested in the things I’d designed (including a dress that had won me first prize in a competition in Knitting Magazine, but was at the time, yet to be published) and six months in to my new job she put me in touch with Jenny at Artesano and started my design career, something that I never expected.

I’ve been at Stash nearly four and half years now, and I will always be indebted to them for giving me that chance.  Sadly Helen passed away earlier this year, but I will never forget her influence.  She was always much more ambitious for me than I was for myself and certainly made me try to aim for bigger and better things than I believed I was capable of.  I hope I did her proud.

It’s now almost exactly eight years since I became ill at the age of 19 and I still have to be careful with my health, but knitting has given me a second chance and I think I’m happier now than I would have been if my life had gone the way I originally planned.  I am by no means well, but I have come a long way and I am lucky and grateful that I am well enough and have been given the opportunity to do this.  There is huge variation in the severity of M.E./C.F.S. and many others are not so lucky.

I’d have to say that reactions to my knitting have been mixed.  Always positive from knitters themselves, but sometimes bemused ‘what on earth are you doing/making?’ or ridiculous.  Talking of the latter, I’ll end with on a lighter note with this:

When I was blocking out my Mae shawl I had this conversation with my Dad (who has never really understood my knitting or especially my designing):

Dad: ‘What is it?  Is it a skirt?’

Me: ‘No, it’s a shawl.  Why would I be knitting a skirt?’

Dad: ‘Well it’s just so…. big.’

Me: :/

I’ve enjoyed reading your posts from Saturday.  If you’ve stuck with this post to the end, thank you.

Lottie x

5KCBWDAY5 – Is a change really as good as a rest?

Hmm… I think that’s up for debate!

Certainly blogging every day brings plenty of change (in terms of blogging differently to usual), but not very much rest (don’t ask how many hours Marvin’s low quality photo comic took me – I doubt that there will be any future installments).

Am I getting blogging fatigue?  Actually, no.  Although it’s been a lot of work, just like last year I am enjoying Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and it’s been great to discover some fab new blogs.

It’s also lovely to have so many new readers and commenters and I’ve really enjoyed reading your thoughts, so thanks for popping round to my little corner of the internet!

So, today’s challenge is to blog in a completely different way to normal.

So far I’m just yakking, so I’m failing miserably.  Oops.

Well, I had a think and you know what you don’t see much of on the internet?  Knitting memes (I know there are some, but knitting is ace, so we need more).

Now, hear me out. 

I’m not really into this sort of thing, but basically a meme (as I understand it) is one of those pictures with a funny phrase, pun or statement written on it in big bold (usually capital) letters.  Commonly they might include a picture of a grumpy looking cat or, like this one; an Alpaca.  They crop up on various social networks, so you’ve probably seen one.

So I thought I’d have a go at making my own!  I dug out an amusing sheep picture which I took at Killerton House (a National Trust property) a few years ago (the sheep were roaming freely over the footpaths  – as well as sleeping on them – and were totally nonplussed by my prescence) and voila!

Please don't ask me to move... I'm hiding the yarn I've just bought.

Not just a knitting meme, but a yarn stashing meme! Feel free to share it (together we can win the interwebs!) :)

Back again tomorrow!

Lottie x

5KCBWDAY4 – Getting to the point

Hi, I’m one of Lottie’s many, many pairs of knitting needles!

Addi Needles

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

I’m an Addi Premium circular needle, a svelte 3.25 mm and 80 cm long.  As I mentioned, I am not alone by any means.  Lottie loves her Addi Premiums and hardly ever knits with anything else, in fact she will sooner buy another pair of needles than use any other type!  As a result I have a twin and numerous siblings in various sizes.

I’m very sleek which is perfect for Lottie as she has a tendency to knit tightly and my smooth surface keeps her stitches moving quickly, helping her to knit faster.  Speed is important in my line of work, especially when there are deadlines to be met.  Back in December and January I helped her to knit her Siskin shawl, my proudest achievement as a needle!

She usually rewards me for my help with nice yarns, for example at the moment I’m helping her to make a wrap in a lovely laceweight Bluefaced Leicester and Silk mix…. mmmmm…….

I enjoy socialising.  In this picture you can see I’m hanging out with some cute pink stitch markers.  We get along really well and work together to prevent frogging and tinking.  It’s a close working relationship. 

Lottie: I love my needles, I think we’ve only ever fallen out when you’ve been too clingy and tried to hang on to me when I’ve got up to do something else.  You lost your rag and dropped a load of stitches – or maybe it was one of your siblings?

You can’t blame me for that – that was one of those troublesome 4mm needles.  I swear they’ve learnt to clone themselves.  They stick together, so you’ll never find out which of them it was. 

Lottie: Sorry, my mistake.  I guess the only other problem we have is that sometimes I need to use another needle size and you feel neglected for a while, but it could be worse, you could be those big 24 mm heavy wooden needles.  They’re still holding my extreme knitting.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish that – it’s a bit too physical for me!

*Shudder*  Don’t you ever leave me in the U.F.O. zone! 

Back tomorrow with something a bit different from normal ;)

I’ve really enjoyed reading all your posts this week so far, I hope you’ve enjoyed mine too.  Thanks for reading :)

Lottie x