Swirly Whirly!

When I blogged about Swirl a few weeks ago I told you I’d made another for myself and I said this:

I enjoyed making it so much I’ve already made another to keep for myself, but more about that when I get some decent photos (I’m waiting for the weather to pick up a bit).

Well no excuses with the weather – it’s certainly been sunny, but as I keep saying too hot for me!  You’d have thought that whoever is in charge of the weather would have taken the hint by now wouldn’t you?  😉

Swirl!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The trouble is that when it’s too hot, by the time I get home I feel about as motivated to get changed and have my photo taken as I used to about English Literature at school.  I hated English Literature.  To me it just seemed the most pointless subject known to man.  (Can you tell I have a science brain?)  I like facts, stuff with evidence behind it that you can be pretty certain about, like physics (I can still remember the names of all six quarks – up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom – in case you’re wondering) although if someone reads that in 100 years, new physics will have been discovered at CERN and it might all be wrong.

I like arty stuff too, but English Literature just seems like speculation to me.  Read a poem/book/etc.  Try to figure out what the author really meant by all of it.  If it’s a historical text, the author isn’t around any more to check.  What if they wrote a poem about a dog and you think it might be about the futility of existence, but they really just wrote about their dog, with no hidden meaning at all.  Isn’t it arrogant to assume that we know what they meant, what they were thinking?  Sometimes I want to get a poem into a school anthology just so someone can analyse it, find the ‘hidden meaning’ and then I can prove them wrong.  Or give it a subtext on the futility of English Literature.

I’m rambling again.  I must stop doing that.  But today it has been slightly less hot and more bearable, so I have photos!

Back to the shawl!

Swirl!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

This was originally my swatch for Swirl but it seemed a shame to waste the yarn (Easyknits Biffle-Boo which I bought at Andyfest last August) so after my submission had been accepted by Let’s Knit and I had finished the sample, I undid the cast off on my swatch and just kept knitting until I ran out of yarn (it’s the sort of shawl where you can pretty much do that).

Swirl!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The only difference between this and the sample in the magazine is the edging.  I nearly ran out of yarn so I had to cast off a row early – on the same row where you work the edging – which is not ideal, but I wanted to use every inch of yarn I had!

Swirl!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

This yarn is lovely to knit with and I love the colours – which is the reason I bought it in the first place!  I was worried that I wouldn’t have anything quite the right shade of pink/red or purple to wear with it for the pictures but then I remembered this dress and luckily it was the right colour. 🙂  I’m really pleased with it and I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot once the weather is cooler.  It’s rare for me to actually get a chance to make one of my designs to keep for myself so to have made this feels like a nice treat!

Enjoy your weekend!

Lottie x

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In which I am a lucky recipient of woolly goodies

Sorry I’ve not posted for a couple of weeks!  The heat here has been sort of overpowering and energy sapping (for pasty pale Brits who aren’t used to it anyway) for the past two weeks and once I’m back from work I’ve had enough.  Also I’ve been swatching so I’ve not really got any knitting that I can tell you about.

Well ok, go on, I guess I can show you the yarn I’m swatching with.

Swatching yarn

Yes there are ten colours (some of them are underneath others in the picture, in case you’re counting).

No I’m not using them all at once.

We’re just starting to get all the new yarns in for Autumn/Winter 2013/2014 at work (not that the weather could be in greater contrast!) and I just loved some of the new colours (Turquoise!  Purple!  Cerise!) in Rowan Fine Tweed and as it comes in 25g balls it is perfect for colourwork, so five colours made it home with me on Tuesday.

Then I did some charts for colourwork ideas on Wednesday (my day off), ten ideas to be exact.  And I decided I needed some more colours.  So I got five more colours on Thursday.  I’m going to have to narrow down the ten ideas though otherwise I’ll never finish swatching!  Whether or not I will be happy with any of them when I have swatched is a moot point.

It’s cooling down slightly now, but it’s still quite muggy and horrible.  It is just me, or do you like the idea of a summer until it actually happens, at which point you just want it to go away?  I’m probably just weird, but 20°C and a little bit of cloud would suit me just fine.  Anyway, enough whingeing!  Onwards!

Working at a yarn shop (Stash Fine Yarns – I’m a lucky girl!) I’ve got to know a lot of knitters, some of whom have become good friends.  One of those is the very talented Sarah who blogs at Woodlandknitter who made me this amazing hand felted yarn bowl for my birthday recently:

Yarn Bowl

Isn’t it fab!  I love the way the yarn comes out through a little flower, revealing the yellow fibre underneath.

Yarn Bowl

It even has little holders for your stitch markers!

Yarn Bowl

And there was even a little bit of yarn inside it (Manos Del Uruguay Maxima if I’m not mistaken – yes I am a yarn nerd):

Yarn Bowl - inside!

I’ve never had a yarn bowl before so I really love this :).

Thanks Sarah!

Happy knitting everyone!

Lottie x

Too hot to knit mittens!

As I type it is just cooling off here, but it’s still far too hot.  Why?  Because we’re having what passes for a heat wave here in Britain.

(Prepare to laugh if you live somewhere consistently hotter)

Let me explain.

In Britain, summer tends to be a bit wet, cold and possibly windy – to me a nice warm day is 18-20°C but 16°C or lower and cloudy is not uncommon, so relatively, anything close to 30°C seems unpleasantly hot.  We’re just not built for it.  All my childhood summer holidays in this country were spent wearing cagoules at some point (even though some of them were beach holidays).  (Although there was that summer where it was so hot that there was a plague of ladybirds and you couldn’t go to the beach before 5pm or you’d be burnt to a crisp – but that was very unusual!)

Today it’s been 28°C and it’s not dropped below 26°C most of the week.  Urgh.

Consequently my enthusiasm for knitting anything vaguely wintry is at an all time low.

Observe the evidence:

Half-finished mitts

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Yes, those are my Charm mittens.

Yes, they were being knitted as part of a KAL (knit-a-long).

Yes, the KAL did finish at the end of June.

Yes, you’re right, they are not finished.

No, that is not an out of date picture.

Yes, I am aware of the date.

Yes, circumstances did conspire against me, but this last week they haven’t, I’ve just not been in the mood.

Yes, it is too hot to knit mittens.  (I want to knit something light and lace weight and summery – not really sure what though – but I’m forcing myself to finish these first.)

Maybe I’ll get motivated over the weekend!  Wish me luck!

Lottie x

Swirl

Last week I showed you Swirl and promised you a post all about it, so I’m keeping to my word!

In case you’re not a regular reader of my blog (Welcome!  Make yourself at home!) or you have a particularly short memory, this is Swirl, my latest shawl design featured in the current issue of Let’s Knit! Magazine (Issue 69, August 2013):

Swirl Shawl

Copyright Let’s Knit 2013, used with kind permission

I really love the styling in this photo!  But enough of that.  You want to know the design ‘story’ behind the shawl.

I wanted to create a shawl that would work really well with all those pretty variegated yarns that really call to you in the skein, but once you get them home are difficult to find a pattern for.  Obviously you could knit variegated yarn up to any pattern you like, but an intricate lace pattern or detailed cabling would be lost in a highly variegated yarn and all your hard work in knitting something complex would be for nothing.

Just one teeny problem.  I love variegated yarns, and have many in my stash.

I also like more complex interesting patterns.

They say that all designs start with a problem that needs a solution (although I’m sure there would be a more eloquent way of phrasing that) and that was my problem.  Most of the stitch patterns that I swatch in variegated yarn just give me that little niggle in the back of my head that says ‘it’s ok, but it would look better in a solid colour’.  It’s rare that I think a stitch pattern looks just as good in a variegated yarn as it does in a plain one.  So I really needed to find the exception to prove the rule!

Gorgeous yarns from 'Andyfest'

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012 – 2013

So I had a look through my stash to find the most variegated yarn I had, one with lots of contrast, the sort of yarn that screams ‘If it works in this, it will work with ANY variegated yarn!’ and I came up with a gorgeous skein of Easyknits Biffle-Boo that I bought at Andyfest/Bluefaced Open Weekend last year (such a lovely day out, and such a lot of nice yarn – I did of course buy far too much!).

Then I thought about the usual shawl shapes, and whether there was something a little different I could do.  There are so many beautiful shawl patterns out there, mostly triangular or crescent shaped, but as my stitch pattern would have to be quite simple I thought it needed a shape that would add extra interest.  After all, as long as you have the right number of increases every row, you can put them wherever you want!

With all that in mind, after letting all these thoughts simmer in my head for a bit, I came up with this:

Swirl Swatch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Large eyelets, for lots of contrast with the stocking stitch sections and an asymmetrical swirl shape for something more unusual!  Plus the swirl shape is easy to wear around your shoulders without it slipping off.

The swatch was fun to knit and I got a bit carried away!  But eventually I cast off with a scalloped edging that flowed nicely out of the eyelet pattern:

Swirl Shawl Swatch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Now it was sketching time:

Swirl Sketch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Once the shawl had been accepted I had to choose a more widely available yarn for my design.  This wasn’t difficult – I have a bit of a weakness for Manos Fino (a 4ply version of their popular Silk Blend yarn) and that comes in some pretty variegated colours, so we chose #6881/Jewel, a pretty mix of blue, turquoise, pink and purple.

And here is the finished article 😀 I’m so pleased with how it turned out!

Swirl Shawl

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Rubbish model though!  I enjoyed making it so much I’ve already made another to keep for myself, but more about that when I get some decent photos (I’m waiting for the weather to pick up a bit).

Hope you like it!

Lottie x