This time next year…..

….. what do I hope to be doing?  What do I want to have achieved?

This is the final topic for Knitting and Crochet Blog week 2013; to look forward to this time next year and set yourself goals, or decide what you hope to have done by then.

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.

Socks are one of the few things I have never made.

Now I know that as some of you read this you will be practically jumping up and down saying something like:

‘Never made socks?  What?  WHY NOT??’

On the other hand, if you’re not a knitter (Never knitted?  What?  WHY NOT?) you’re probably wondering why anyone would do such a thing when there are things called shops that you can go into and hand over money in return for a five-pack of socks of pretty much any design from boring black socks right up to novelty Christmas socks (you know the sort of thing, the ones that say ‘Bah Humbug’ or try to give the Simpsons an inexplicable connection with the festive season).

Forget all that.

You have to understand that a knitter looks at every piece of clothing and thinks ‘Could I knit that?’

I have even had this thought about ball gowns.

I don’t need a ball gown.  I wouldn’t have an occasion to wear one.  I would never have the patience to knit one.  (But imagine how stunning it would be! :))

But this is how the brain of a knitter works.

If you are that person who doesn’t knit, it has probably escaped your notice that for knitters, knitted socks are something of a cult.  There are knitters who make only socks.  Knitters who look at every other pattern and think ‘That’s nice, but I think it would be better if that stitch detail was on a sock’ and many knitters knit socks regularly.

If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that I am not one of those people.  But lately I have been wavering.

Gorgeous yarns from 'Andyfest'

There is some sock yarn in here – but I might just make shawls with it 😮
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012 – 2013

And now I’m going to say something a bit controversial, so I’ll put my tin hat on and get my shield out.

I just don’t see the point of spending hours knitting something pretty (if I am knitting anything it will be pretty, because that is the sort of thing I like) only to hide it inside a pair of shoes.  I’d just be worried about spoiling them.  There I’ve said it.  But I’ve seen lots of pairs of socks that I like, that are works of art, and I feel a little left out.  So I think I might just try, even if I only wear them indoors (stop laughing).

I might start with these Jump ‘n’ Jive Socks by Anna Richardson but don’t hold me to that!

As it is the last day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (see Eskimimi Makes for full details) I ought to say thank you.

Firstly to Eskimimi for organising the whole thing and choosing fab topics to post on, and secondly to all of you who have taken the time to read, like, comment or follow my blog.  I have surprised myself by how much I’ve enjoyed Blog week.  Your responses have been really fun to read and now I feel a little less like I am just shouting to an empty room!

Lottie x

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Top of the Charts

What’s your favourite knitting tool or gadget?

This a tough question for me.  I love many knitting gadgets and tools, from the everyday things like my favourite needles, to the more occasionally used (but still helpful) yarn swift and ball winder.

But what makes my life much easier?  Which of those things would I hate to be without?  Well I wouldn’t want to be without my Addi needles, but what can I tell you about those without being dull?  Not much.  So I’ve decided to tell you all about the thing I would hate to design without:

Stitch Mastery Knitting Chart Editor by Cathy Scott

This amazing software allows you to make beautiful, clear, professional looking pattern charts with ease.  (Before we go any further I should say that I have not received any inducements, incentives or free things to write this – I bought this software myself, and use it all the time, so this is an unbiased view.  If I didn’t like it I would say so.)

You can make very simple charts, like the one below using just knit and purl stitches, right up to big complicated charts (for example the large charts I drew for Cleome were created in Stitch Mastery and used some unusual stitches that the software coped with very well).

Knit and purl chart

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The charts are really quick to do.  This one took me just two minutes, and it is very easy to alter them as well.  You can either undo your previous actions (you can even do this multiple times), or paint over the stitch you have chosen with another one (e.g. replace knit with purl or vice versa).

Colour + stitches chart

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

It’s also really easy to add colours to your chart, even when that square already contains a stitch (very handy for shaping when knitting fairisle).  There are several default colours provided but you can also create custom colours to match the colour of your yarn.

A key is automatically created, and every new stitch that you add to your chart appears in it.  You can edit the key descriptions, and delete entries to the key if you change your mind, as well as change the key font or text size.

Chart pattern repeats

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

You can also add pattern repeats by selecting the cells you want to be repeated.  Then you can add a border and a name or instruction to the pattern repeat.

Not only can you chart simple knit and purl patterns and colourwork, but also cables:

Charted cables

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

and lace:

Charted lace

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

There are a huge number of different stitch symbols to choose from, but you can also create custom stitches if you can’t find the one you want.

Even better, when you’ve finished your chart you can export it to a PDF or an image file such as JPEG or PNG, so it’s easy to share your chart of insert it into a pattern.

I don’t know where I would be without it.

The charts are so quick to do that I make one before I knit a swatch of a new design idea, save it as a PDF and print it out (it’s quicker than graph paper).  Then I can alter it as I go along and this approach also has the advantage of weeding out any impossible stitches before I commit yarn to needles.

If you want to make charts in Excel or similar software, Cathy Scott has also made her knitting chart font available to buy separately and there is a free demo version of Knitting Chart Editor that you can download here as well as a video showing some of the features.

Now, I know there are some of you who are by this point thinking that you hate charts with a passion and avoid any pattern that has them in.  That’s ok, I’m just a person who finds visualising things helpful, but everyone is different.  That’s why despite my love of charts, I always try to include alternative written instructions in my patterns, in case charts are not for you.

That way, everyone is happy :).

Lottie x

A spectrum of colour

What are your favourite colours?

Mini Skeins

Are they the same as the colours you tend to knit with?  Or do you opt for choices that are more practical?  Perhaps the colours that you like best don’t suit you?  (I don’t mind yellow, but it doesn’t suit me, so I don’t knit with it for myself.)

My favourites are turquoise and purple, and I quite like bright colours.  I also like red, coral, pink, blue and green.

Time to see if that is reflected in what I have made recently!

Runa:

Runa Hat

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Wagtail:

Wagtail Hat crown

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Holden Shawlette:

Holden Shawlette

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Rosaleen:

Rosaleen Shawlette

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Ishbel:

Ishbel

Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Gosh!  Isn’t there a lot of turquoise!!  I seriously need to knit with a greater variety of colours 😮 to be a true Chameleon!

I have lots of different colours in my stash, but I think that recently I have been trying to knit up WIPs and newer purchases, so I’ve chosen yarn on the basis of fibres and weight (according to what I want to knit) rather than colour.  Overall my finished projects (including those made longer ago and not photographed) do show a greater variety of colour, but still stick to my favourite shades.

My stash seems to best represent my favourite colours – maybe it’s time to knit some of them up!

Lottie x

‘Venn’ do you have enough yarn?

Please excuse the dreadful pun above, but as some of you may recognise (if you were paying attention in maths at school) this post contains a Venn diagram.

Wait!  Come back!  There’s no more maths (and my Venn diagram certainly has no statistical basis).

Promise 🙂

Venn diagram

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The eternal question for all knitters and crocheters (usually asked by other despairing and/or long suffering and non-crafty family members) is ‘Don’t you have enough yarn?’

Apart from the obvious answers of:

‘You just don’t get it do you?’

or

‘No!’

or the more long winded

‘But I want to make a purple/blue/turquoise/teal/green/yellow/orange/red/pink/grey/black/cream/white sweater/cardigan/hat/shawl/scarf/mittens/socks/stuffed merkat in lace/4ply/doubleknit/worsted/aran/chunky/superchunky yarn and I don’t have any/enough of that in my stash!’

there isn’t really an awful lot that you can say.  They wouldn’t understand because they don’t knit or crochet.

They won’t understand that yes, you bought that nice DK yarn in the sale that’s not quite enough for a sweater, (but isn’t it a nice colour and you never know what you might use it for, and it was such a bargain!) so you can’t use it for the chunky cabled jacket you’re now coveting from the latest magazine or that beautiful laceweight shawl on Ravelry that everyone is making.  To them it’s all just yarn, and you already have lots of it, so why would you need some more?

This is why so many of us have huge stashes.  Sale bargains.  Yarn you bought to make something that you’re not so sure you like any more.  Yarn you haven’t knitted up because you’re still trying to finish that pesky sweater and those mittens.  (While you’re slaving away on the sweater you’re probably coveting lots of other projects to cheer yourself up, so more yarn finds it’s way in there too.)

When you think about it the Venn diagram isn’t really about knitting at all.  It could just as easily represent ambitions (in pink) and life expectancy (in blue) with the overlapping section representing the ambitions you will be able to fulfil.  Ambitions are what keep us going.  Having something to aim for is very important.  It keeps us motivated.  Something common to non-knitters as well.  Perhaps our stashes aren’t so hard to understand after all.

Lottie x

Karma Chameleon!

So, the second challenge of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (having yesterday failed to choose a house that sums me up as a knitter) is to choose a project that reflects the qualities and attributes of your house.

So I guess I need to either pick a house or invent a new one.

Darn.

*scrabbles around for a bit of paper and a pen*

*doodles*

*faffs about ineptly on Photoshop*

Ta-dah!

I hereby give you the house of the Chameleon:

House of Chameleon Crest

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Chameleons like many different types of project and are likely to have a WIP to suit every mood and whim. One day they might prefer the comfort of a simple project, the next a challenging project with new techniques knitted to a perfect and exacting standard. They are indecisive, sometimes to the point of frustration. (It is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind!)

House chosen/created! What a rebel 😉

So what might I choose to make? Errm…… well that’s the thing about Chameleons……. they’re not really sure which project to cast on first. One day I think I know what I want to knit and am really excited about it, and then the next day I look at what I had in mind and think it’s all a bit, well…. meh.

Because of this I tend to have a lot of different ideas about what I want to make floating about in my head while I decide if it is really what I want to make or not. But this one has been on my mind for a little while. Last year I joined the Easyknits Sushi Shawl Roll Club and I got this:

Easyknits Sushi Shawl Roll

Now these are not really my sort of colours (but there are many colours that change as you knit – like a Chameleon! Do I get extra points for that?), but that’s how the club works, it’s a mystery, so I’m fine with that. But I do want to use it for something as it’s a really soft and squishy Merino/Cashmere blend. I like the blue, but orange and yellow don’t really suit me so I need to find a way of keeping the blue near my face and the rest of the colours away from it. The best idea for this that I’ve thought of so far is a top down shawl, starting at the blue end and working down to the yellow and orange (but I will have to rewind the shawl roll to do this as the top unravelling end where you start to pull the yarn from is in the orange section).

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!

What do you think? Should I go for it? Do you want to join the House of Chameleon? Leave a comment below to let me know 🙂

Lottie x

All I know is I’m not a Manatee…….

What kind of knitter are you?

Everyone is different.  If we weren’t then the world would be a rather dull place.  Nothing new to see or do, no stories to tell.  We would all have seen and heard it all before.

But have you ever really stopped to think what makes you….. err…. you?  Personally I would have to say no.  I’m not the sort of person who goes on a yoga retreat in Outer Mongolia to ‘find myself’!

So Day 1 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 ‘The House Cup’ involves choosing a ‘House’ that best represents you as a knitter.  There are four to choose from (just like Harry Potter!) but unfortunately there is no Sorting Hat to choose for me.  *Sigh*

But which one am I?

Am I a Bee?

The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.

House of Bee

As my WIP Amnesty shows, I certainly do flit from one project to another as new projects capture my interest.  Maybe I’m a Bee!  This is easier than I thought :)!

Better just check the other houses before I decide……..

Just to be sure………..

The House of Manatee: Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet.

House of Manatee

I don’t think this is me.  I’m not that calm (I tend to worry about things) and I can’t say that I dislike flashy projects (such as the Wagtail Hat that I finished recently).

Also, I don’t live in the sea, and if anyone called me a Sea Cow (another name for a Manatee) I would be very offended!

So I’m not a Manatee.  Now what about a monkey?

The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

House of Monkey

This sounds a lot like me.  For me the whole point of knitting (and crochet) is learning new skills, and this is not something that I shy away from.  I love the sense of achievement that you get from trying something new successfully, and I’m quite a determined person, so I don’t mind persisting until I get something right.  In fact I even try techniques that are new to me in my designs.  I used an i-cord cast off for the first time in a design due to be published soon and I like the challenge of this sort of thing!

The House of Peacock: Peacocks take something good and make it brilliant. Buttons, embellishments and a bit of sparkle prove that perfection lies in the details – like a Peacock’s Tail.

House of Peacock

Embellishments?  Check!

Sparkle?  Check!

Perfectionist?  Check checkety check!

This isn’t going very well.  Maybe I should set up my own house.  Perhaps the House of Chameleon?  Or Woodpigeon (whenever I see them they always look dozy and indecisive)?

But at least I know I’m not a Manatee………

So what am I making at the moment?  Errm……… a cosy, chunky blanket…….. in snuggly soft undyed Araucania Limari.

Cozy Blanket

It’s not flashy.

But it is comfy.

Does this make me a Sea Cow?  😦

It’s not like I’m indecisive or anything……. or maybe I’m not so sure…… 😉

What kind of knitter are you?  Leave a comment below to let me know!

Lottie x

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013!

knitting and crochet blog week 2013

Just a quick post to tell you that (all being well) I will be at least attempting to participate in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 <— full details of this event can be found on www.eskimimimakes.com or by clicking this link.  I don’t usually post every day due to the pesky constraints of time, so this will be a bit of a challenge……eek!  Wish me luck!

First post tomorrow!  🙂

Lottie x

Finish line: Part 2 – Runa

Runa is finished!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out……….

Runa Hat

…….. I love the soft halo of the Artesano Alpaca DK yarn………

Runa Hat

….. and it’s lovely and warm thanks to the combination of alpaca yarn and the stranded colourwork that creates a thicker fabric.

Runa Hat

(But I still don’t like having my photo taken!)

You can find my project on Ravelry here.

So what next?  I’ve finished three WIPs since I started my WIP Amnesty (four WIPs left to finish), so I think it’s time to start a new project (although I have been working a little bit on a jumper I’ve had a on the needles for about a year) but what should I knit next?  Any ideas?  I need to use up some of my stash……..

Lottie x

All photos copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

WIP Amnesty: Part 3 – Runa

Next on my WIP list is this, Runa:

Runa (fairisle hat) in progress

Runa in progress
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Runa is one of my designs for Artesano and  you may have seen it in one another guise as one of the patterns in the Artesano Nordic Collection 2011 and also in Let’s Knit Magazine (Issue 51) about a year ago.

Runa Fairisle Hat

Runa
(Copyright Artesano 2011 used with kind permission)

I started this one back in January last year, and it really should be finished by now, but various design commissions have had to take priority, and usually once I have finished those I either have more ideas to explore and swatch, or I want to cast on something new that I have never knitted before or something mindless which I will inevitably get bored of (i.e. acres of stocking stitch) because my brain is crying ‘Enough!  No more thinking, please!’.   So although fairisle isn’t that hard, I end up putting it off.

I could have taken Runa on holiday with me to finish, but as this version needs 4 balls of yarn, it just wasn’t practical, as I only have the crown left to do and I would have packed all the yarn I could fit in my case and then finished it and had NO KNITTING, which is obviously unthinkable.

Runa Superwash Merino Swatch

My original Runa Swatch in Artesano Superwash Merino DK
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2011)

Anyway, back to the project itself.  The reason I wanted to make another Runa is that originally submitted two colour schemes for this design. One in Artesano Superwash Merino DK, and one in Artesano Alpaca DK.  In the end the Nordic Collection was worked in Superwash Merino DK (in two colours), but I still wanted to make a version in alpaca as I love some of the heathered shades that are available, especially in colourwork.

Runa Swatch in Artesano DK

My swatch for the alternative Runa colourway in Artesano DK
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2011)

Runa was inspired by Viking carvings and heart shapes traditionally found in Scandinavian knitwear, so I wanted to reflect this in the two different colour schemes.

The idea with this colour scheme was to show a different side to the design.  To me, when you stripe the background in more girly colours the swirls look like little hearts, compared to the original two colour version which has a more graphic abstract look.  I like the way that with just a few changes like this colourwork patterns can take on a very different appearance.

Runa hat in progress (wrong side)

Even the wrong side has to be neat – I’m a perfectionist!
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

So as you can see, it’s not as if I have fallen out of love with Runa, we just needed some time apart.  But I want to get this finished (before summer – such as it is in Britain – arrives)!

Next time……… a finished hat!!  🙂

Lottie x