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

5KCBWDAY3 – Marvin v spammers!

So today’s blogging challenge is all to do with creative photography.  Eek!

Well I tried faffing about with some yarns that made me think of the coast and beaches etc:

Seaside yarns Seaside yarns

But that seemed a bit dull.

Then I remembered something irritating that keeps happening whenever I tag a post with the word ‘blogging’.  I get some likes, follows and spammy comments from people who clearly don’t care about knitting, with preachy ‘How all the blogging you’ve ever done is wrong – and I can tell you how to do it right with my boring generic tips!’ type sites.  Urgh.

I’m not bothered about getting lots of blog traffic if it’s from spammers.  I want to read other knitting and crochet blogs and for the lovely people who write them to perhaps read my blog if they enjoy it.

One of these ‘blogging guru’ type sites even ended every post title with the word ‘REALLY???’ all in capitals, just like that, with three question marks.  Who are these people?  How do they expect me to respect their opinions on blogging if they can’t even think of decent titles?  Maybe it’s just me.  I can’t pretend to understand the technicalities behind blogging, or know what the SEO is or how to get more organic traffic, but I just want to write posts that you’ll enjoy reading.

So here’s Marvin’s take on it all with a very poor attempt at a photo comic (enjoy it spammers!):

Marvin Comic

Marvin Comic

Back tomorrow with another post!

Looking forward to reading yours too :)

Lottie x

 

5KCBWDAY2 – It’s all about Marvin!

Well, it’s the second day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 and today’s post topic is a ‘Dating Profile’ for a project you’ve made.  Again, this topic takes me out of my comfort zone, but it does provide me with an opportunity to re-introduce my blog’s unofficial mascot……

Marvin!

Marvin!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Dapper Meerkat, 16 months, GSOH, would like to meet similar…….

Hello, my name’s Marvin and I’m a 16 month old meerkat and Knitwear Design Advice Guru.  I was knitted at my owner’s home in the UK and I spend my days providing her with invaluable inspiration and advice on her designs (when she’s not abandoned me to work at a yarn shop).

I’m 5″ tall, medium build, cute and fluffy with a glint in my eye ;) (it must be the little glass beads)!

I’m interested in meerkat fashion, especially knitwear and I’m working on getting my knitter to expand my wardrobe.  It’s the least she could do after I helped her to get a design on the front cover of Let’s Knit magazine, but no such luck yet.  That design started life as a motif on my Nordic style jumper – a bespoke design just for me!

I also like Doctor Who.  In the words of the Doctor himself:

‘It’s a fez.  I wear a fez now, fezzes are cool!’ 

I also have a bow tie.  I’m quite the style icon in the meerkat world.  I just need a sonic screwdriver, a TARDIS and an adventurous assistant!

It's a fez, I wear a fez now, fezzes are cool!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

As for my dislikes, well, I don’t like being mistaken for an insurance salesman*, or being compared to other meerkats online.  I also hate the cold, but that’s what my jumper is for!  With that on to keep me cosy I can even stay out long enough to built a snow meerkat!

Marvin in the snow

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

In the long term I would like to meet other small meerkats and be given more responsibility in my role as Knitwear Design Advice Guru.  Perhaps I could become a knitwear model or international trend setter?  Anything but selling insurance!

*In the UK, meerkats have become popular due to a character in a well known insurance comparison website advert, a campaign based entirely on the idea that ‘compare the market’ sounds a bit like ‘compare the meerkat’.  Though Marvin is understandably grumpy about this, he should probably accept that without the rise in popularity of meerkats due to this the pattern for him would never have been published, I would never have been given a copy of the book containing it for Christmas and he would never have existed.

Back tomorrow with another post!  Looking forward to reading yours :)

Lottie x

5KCBWDAY1 – A Day in the Life of…. erm…?

So it’s the first day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014!  Want to take part yourself?  You can find all the details here on Eskimimi Makes, there’s a post on the daily topics here and a post on the tags you need to use in your posts here if you’re interested in joining in.

Last year it was a lot of fun and I certainly learnt a lot, even if I deviated from the post topics a little bit and put my own spin on them!  I never was very good at following the crowd.  You can read last year’s posts here.

2014-Annual-Knitting-Crochet-Blog-Week-on-Eskimimi-Makes

Today’s topic is ‘A Day In The Life’ of a project you’ve made or are in the process of making.

I’ve just briefly scanned through my posts from last year (having had to find them in order to give you that link) and I realised that I had been pretty honest in those posts.  Not that I ever lie in my posts you understand.  Perhaps candid is a better word.  It’s just that often life is messy, dull or even bleak and:

a) I think you probably don’t really want to read about those days and mostly I want to just put it behind me rather than write about it.

b) Even if you do want to read about that, I don’t really want to write about it on the internet – and as this is my blog, I’m the boss ;) – sometimes the internet encourages you to overshare and I want to avoid that.

So in the spirit of honesty and being candid I need to come clean about today’s topic.

You should probably know that my immediate reaction to this topic was a silent, internal ‘arrrrgh!’ that only I could hear.

Also, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time staring at a blank screen or reading everyone else’s blog posts for the day, hoping for inspiration to hit me.  It hasn’t.  Or it sort of has, but I can’t decide if it is tolerable, dreadful, or quite good.  I hope it’s the latter, but I don’t know if I’m brave enough to post it and find out.  Indecisive as usual (a recurring theme in my posts from last year).

I could write a day in the life of a project I wear frequently (most likely a shawl – maybe this one that I finished recently)….

Follow Your Arrow Shawl

Follow Your Arrow Shawl (Designed by Ysolda Teague)
Picture Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

But it would probably be a bit like this:

The wardrobe door is flung open and I’m pulled unceremoniously from my comfy resting place on top of a pile of knits on the top shelf.  Lottie has to remove me in this way as she can only reach me on the high shelf by standing on her tip-toes with her arms at full stretch (she’s only 5’3″), so I’ve got used to it.  Lottie doesn’t always plan what she’s going to wear until she opens the wardrobe so I never know if it will be my day or not. 

Quickly flung around her neck, a brief glance in the mirror on the inside of the wardrobe door confirms I’m not going to slip off.  I’m rudely shaken about as she leans heavily on the uncooperative wardrobe door in an attempt to close it.  More often than not it pings open again after she’s turned the key and we repeat the process (If she doesn’t turn the key exactly the right amount clockwise we’re snookered).  I know that this is because she’s got too much yarn in there, but I’ve not plucked up the courage to tell her yet.  Then I experience the exhilaration of having to hold on tight as she rushes down the stairs and out of the house.

Once at work (at Stash Fine Yarns) I get blown about in the breeze as she takes the shop sign outside, ready to tell all the other knitters that the shop is open.  I try my best to stay securely wrapped around her neck while she picks orders, answers the phone and helps customers, but sometimes I lose my grip, or I get cast aside on warmer days.  Sometimes I get used as an impromptu hair covering in the rain because she hates it when her hair goes frizzy in the rain (having straightened it out of it’s natural curly state).  I don’t like this part.  At.  All. 

But I’m not just a shawl, I’m a badge of honour, helping Lottie (who doesn’t really look like a stereotypical knitter) to prove that she knows what she’s talking about and that she is a knitter too, just like the customers.  Sometime I even get compliments from them!  If I had a blood supply I would blush.  I’m a comforting presence, a piece of armour against the world, part of the unofficial uniform of ‘clothes for work’ that helps her to feel professional and more confident (she’s quite shy really).  

Sometimes at the end of the working day I’ll have the opportunity to internally roll my eyes (if I had any – mind you, I’m a lacy shawl, so maybe I could roll my eyelets?) when Lottie buys yet another ball of yarn, knitting book or pair of her favourite Addi Premium circular needles (why she needs another pair I don’t know, as she must have plenty already, but I suppose they’re probably holding another WIP, perhaps one that will join me on the wardrobe shelf in a few weeks?).   

Then it’s back home and into the wardrobe until the next time.  Just as soon as she’s got that door closed ;).  

Wouldn’t that be a bit… dull?

Ah.

I seem to have written a blog post by accident.

Whoops!

See you tomorrow for the next post :)

Lottie x

Denman

I’ve got another new design to tell you about today.  Honestly, you spend three months working on new designs, and then they all come out at once!

Anyway, onwards!

My latest design to be released is Denman, a shawl with an unusual construction in Artesano’s gorgeous new Linen Silk DK yarn.

Denman Shawl

Denman Shawl
(Photo copyright Artesano Ltd 2014, used with kind permission)

I wanted to design a shawl that was a little different from the others I’ve designed in the past, something more like a wrap which would stay on your shoulders easily and not slip off, with a stitch pattern that would show off variegated colourways but still be a bit different from the usual suspects (feather and fan, chevrons etc).

Denman stitch pattern detail

Denman stitch pattern detail
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014)

I’ve been fascinated by Estonian style increases (where between three and nine – or sometimes more – stitches are made from just one stitch) for some time now, ever since I designed Cleome using them.

I’d been experimenting with other ways of using them in my own original stitch patterns, so after some quite substantial swatching and a lot of frogging, I came up with a stitch resembling falling petals.  I realised that I could use the same increases to work a circular shape.  What would happen if this became the central section of a wrap…. with two sides radiating from it at an angle, like this?  That would help it to stay securely on your shoulders!

Denman Shawl Sketch

Denman Shawl Sketch
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Of course, in order to test out this theory I had to knit one of the largest swatches I’ve ever knitted!  It probably would have been even larger, but I ran out of yarn (this was the yarn I had left over from Tatyana – about 70g or so of Manos Silk Blend if I recall correctly).  You will have to excuse the fact that it looks like a massive boiled sweet wrapper!  Because of the way the pattern works, the circular section of this swatch had to be as big as that section in the real life shawl, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to test out the pattern on each side of the shawl at the same time.

Denman Shawl swatch

Denman Shawl swatch
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Despite this idea being a bit mad and off the wall, Jenny at Artesano was able to see past the big sweet wrapper swatch to the sketch and commissioned my design!  I was pretty chuffed, as I love working with Artesano and I also love doing more unusual designs – working it out is fun, but the sense of achievement when you realise that your mad idea actually works is even better ;).

I was pretty excited when the yarn arrived.  You never know which colour you are going to get for your design until it arrives, but I was absolutely delighted with the beautiful colour that I ended up with, #EX52/Paradise, a beautiful mix of blue, turquoise, pink and purple.  It was perfect, both for the shawl and for me, as those are my favourite colours!

Denman close-up

Denman close-up (Photo copyright Artesano Ltd 2014, used with kind permission)

The yarn (a DK weight mix of 40% Wool, 35% Silk and 25% Linen) was beautiful to knit with and I loved the way the linen added depth to the colours.  Also the skeins were incredibly evenly matched even though they were hand dyed, which is very impressive (although I still decided to work the yarn in stripes from two skeins at a time in order to guard against pooling – I don’t think it would have been a particular problem, but when you’re working a large item to a deadline the last thing you want to have to do is frog your work, so I didn’t want to take any chances).

After a few weeks work it was done!  The wrap is quite large (though it looks even longer on me – I’m only 5’3″) which allows it to be worn with the circular section either at the front or the back, but it would be easy to make it a little shorter if you prefer.  If I remember correctly one skein will knit 5-6 pattern repeats.  I have to admit it was very cosy and I was rather reluctant to let it go!  I might have to avail myself of some more of this yarn.  Here I am looking tired after many late nights knitting, but chuffed (standing by the back fence trying not to look cold):

Finished!

Finished!
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014)

You can see more pictures of the finished wrap than I could possibly include here on my Ravelry project page.

I’m delighted with the beautiful pictures Artesano have taken of this for the pattern photography.  The colours are very true to life and almost glow, just as they do in the flesh.  Thanks Jenny and the team!

Lottie x