Wild Poppies shawl – now available!

I have something really exciting to share with you today; a new shawl pattern!

Meet Wild Poppies; the latest addition to my eBook ‘Wildflower: The Lace Collection‘.

The petal pattern reminds me of the shape of poppy petals, hence the name!

Wild Poppies by Charlotte Walford

Copyright Jesse Wild/Charlotte Walford

This one has been quite some time in the making, so I’m delighted that I finally have it ready to share with you.

To celebrate the launch, there’s 20% off this pattern (no code needed) until the end of Monday (23.59 BST on Monday 13th July 2015).

Wild Poppies features an unusual lace patterned spine and a border inspired by poppy petals; which you can bead as much or a little as you like.  I’ve beaded the spine and the border in the purple variegated version (shown above) but in the red version (shown below) I’ve just added beads to the very edge.  The pattern provides options for both versions so you can really make the shawl your own.

Wild Poppies By Charlotte Walford

Copyright Jesse Wild/Charlotte Walford

I’ve designed this shawl to be knitted in just one skein of either heavy lace (lace weight yarn with around 600m/100g skein) or 4ply weight yarn (with around 400m/100g skein) and the lace pattern works well with solid or lightly variegated yarns so you can easily pick a favourite skein from your stash and make something pretty with it (if you’re anything like me then you’ll have quite a lot of single skeins to choose from).  There’s also a handy table of estimated yarn and bead quantities in case you want to make a larger or smaller shawl.

As usual with my patterns, all lace patterns have both charts and written instructions so you can work from whichever you prefer and the charts are provided on a separate page at the end of the pattern, so there’s no wasted paper if you don’t want to use them.

Wild Poppies by Charlotte Walford

Copyright Jesse Wild/Charlotte Walford

So, why design this shawl?

I loved the original border pattern I designed for my Rockrose Wrap so much I wanted to incorporate it into a heart shaped shawl, not just by adapting it into an expanding border pattern, but also using it to add interest to the increases at spine of the shawl as well, creating a softer, more flattering shape than a traditional triangular shawl.

I’ve thought for a while that the design opportunities that the spine of a triangular shawl presents are to often ignored.  Just because you have to work increases doesn’t mean they always have to be a straight line of yarn overs!  Why not use a different increase or make a feature of it?  It certainly makes the body of the shawl more fun and interesting to work!

Wild Poppies By Charlotte Walford

Copyright Jesse Wild/Charlotte Walford

I think it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever made, (even if I do say so myself) but I can’t claim all the credit, the beautiful yarn I used certainly helps; Posh Yarn Lorelei Sock (the purple variegated shawl) and Posh Yarn Valerie Heavy Lace (the red shawl).  Unfortunately Valerie Heavy Lace is being discontinued, but Posh Yarn are having one last update with the yarn this Sunday at 7pm.  If you miss out on that, their Diana Heavy Lace or Miranda Heavy Lace yarns would both make lovely substitutes.

Hope you like it!

Lottie x

Thanks to Jeni from Fyberspates and the amazing Jesse Wild, who took these lovely photos of me and the shawl on their photoshoot earlier this year and also to my lovely test knitters. 

 

 

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Rockrose – now available as a scarf!

I’m pleased to announce that the Rockrose Scarf is now available!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

After making the Rockrose Wrap I wanted to see if I could make a smaller version with just one precious (100g/400m) skein of 4ply yarn, you know the sort of thing, it called to you in the shop and though you couldn’t quite resist it, you only bought one skein (two would be an extravagance).  Now you want to make something with it, but what?  Well, I made this!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

On my birthday this year I decided to treat myself to a single skein of Posh Yarn Audrey Sock (made with mulberry silk and cashmere), being such an indulgent yarn, I thought I’d just stick at one skein, but I wanted to make something elegant with it and use up as much of my precious (try not to say that in a Gollum-like voice) skein as possible.

I’d been pretty pleased with the wrap version of this pattern, so I thought I could do with making a smaller version for those with less time, patience, or an aversion to lace weight yarns (I have to be in the right mood to knit with lace weight).  It also gave me chance to make sure my hastily scribbled charts made sense now that I’d redrawn them neatly on the computer!

Floral Lace Scarf_012

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

I was pretty pleased with the result, this yarn is really beautiful and makes the scarf incredibly soft with a really lovely drape.  Sadly Audrey Sock has been discontinued, but Posh Yarn Natasha Sock (baby camel and mulberry silk) would give a similar effect.  So scarf knitted, it went off to my lovely tech editor and testers and now finally it’s ready to share with you!

The Rockrose Scarf is the latest pattern in Wildflower: The Lace Collection eBook, available here.  There are at least five more patterns to go!  If you buy the collection the patterns will be automatically added to your Ravelry library as they are released.

Also, if you’ve already bought the Rockrose Wrap (or if you add both patterns to your cart together), you can get the scarf version free (and vice versa, if you buy the scarf pattern you will get the wrap pattern free), just add it to your cart and the price of the scarf pattern will be deducted automatically.

♥ Until midnight GMT Sunday 2nd November 2014, the price of the Rockrose Scarf and Wrap patterns has been reduced from £3.75 to £2.75!  No need for a code, the price has been altered on the pattern page and will return to the higher price at midnight on Sunday. ♥

Hope you like it,

Lottie x

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

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

 

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

Siskin

I’ve got another design to tell you about today, but first I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who followed, commented, liked or tweeted about my last-post-but-one, Barmouth.  I was really overwhelmed by your heartwarming responses and I never expected such a big reaction, thank you!

Now I suppose I should tell you about that design, Siskin:

Siskin

Siskin, photographed at Gorton Monastery
(Copyright Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing 2014, used with kind permission)

Siskin is published in the latest issue of Knit Now Magazine (out today!) as part of a collection inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement (you can see the rest of the collection and the mood board that inspired it on Pinterest here).

My original inspiration for Siskin was the work of William Morris.  I really love the use of flora and fauna in his patterns, such as the famous ‘Strawberry Thief’ print and I wanted to create my own original colour work pattern, using some of the key elements and characteristics of designs from the Arts and Crafts movement.

The more you study various Arts and Crafts style repeating patterns and prints for wallpaper, fabrics, tiles etc, the more you begin to notice recurring themes, such as the use of motifs from the natural world (birds and flowering plants especially), mirroring and hourglass shapes.

After absorbing all these different inspirations and leaving them to ‘brew’ for a bit in my head, I got to work with Stitch Mastery, charting out a repeating pattern through trial and error.  I really enjoy this stage of designing stranded colour work patterns, when you’re really inspired by something it just flows and is very satisfying, just like the endless drawing I used to do as a child.

Eventually, after faffing about with various subtly different ways of representing birds, I came up with a design I was happy with. Then, on to swatching:

Siskin swatch

Siskin swatch
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

This swatch was knitted in Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Tweed Imps (for the background) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply in Oyster (for the birds pattern).  I wanted to use a subtly variegated yarn for the background to allow me to use all the rich colours popular in Arts and Crafts designs, without introducing too many different yarns and give the pattern depth.

But what to do with the colour work pattern?  My original idea had been to use it for a small crescent-shaped shawl, but that would be a bit of a faff working to a tight deadline, so I settled on a tablet/e-Reader cosy, just the right size for a Kindle or iPad Mini.

Arts and Crafts tablet case sketch

Arts and Crafts sketch
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Of course it didn’t end up as a tablet case did it?  Kate from Knit now emailed me to tell me that she would like my design to be in the magazine, but that they had rather a lot of tablet cosy designs…. could I make it into a hat perhaps?

I panicked for a weekend while I worked out what to do.

The pattern repeat was big, I knew the shaping would probably end up interrupting the pattern messily and that grading it for three adult sizes would be impossible.  But I really wanted to accept the commission, because I was excited about the design.  What to do?

Being a glutton for punishment and not good at saying no to offers of work I decided to offer a couple of alternatives.  A cushion, or a little crescent shawl (my original, rather ambitious plan) perhaps?  Kate replied that either would be fine so I could choose.  So I chose the crescent shawl, because I really wanted to make it!

In due course, the yarn was chosen and sent out to me, (Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend Fino in Lava #6921 for the background and Topaz #2220 for the birds pattern) and I got to work.  I had a panic about the amount of work I had to do in the time available (with Christmas slap bang in the middle) and got started! After a lot of late nights and only Christmas Day off from the long rows of fairisle, I finished knitting the shawl!  Yay!

Siskin finished!

Siskin finished!
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

…..it’s just as neat on the back too (I always stranded the background colour above the birds pattern colour – this makes the stitches for the birds pattern very slightly longer and gives it more impact – doing this consistently throughout the whole piece keeps the knitting neat on the right and wrong sides of the work) making the wrong side look almost like a tapestry.

Wrong side vs right side

Wrong side vs right side
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

So, all the hard work was worth it in the end, just look at the gorgeous photos taken on the photo shoot that Kate arranged at Gorton Monastery:

Siskin

Siskin, photographed at Gorton Monastery
(Copyright Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing 2014, used with kind permission)

Hope you like it!

Lottie x

Barmouth

I’ve got a new design to tell you about today, Barmouth, in the latest issue of Let’s Knit Magazine (Issue 79, May 2014):

Barmouth Headband

Barmouth Headband
Copyright Let’s Knit 2014
Used with kind permission

The inspiration for this design is very personal to me.  As a child I spend many happy summer holidays on the beach at the Welsh seaside town of Barmouth with my parents, brother and grandparents. When Sarah from Let’s knit sent me a ball of Rowan Silkystones with a request to design a headband for one of their spring/summer issues, I wasn’t really sure what I would do exactly before I saw the yarn…. Rowan SilkystonesBut once I’d taken it out of the envelope I knew straight away that it would be connected to this place:

Barmouth (about 1995-96 ish)

Barmouth (about 1995-96 ish)

The colours took me back there straight away.  The grass on the headland, the ripples of the sand on the beach, the hours my brother and I spent making sandcastles, and with the help of my Mum and my late Grandpa, digging elaborate moats around them that went right down to the sea, so that they’d fill up with seawater.

Boats in Barmouth harbour (1995 - 1996 ish)

Boats in Barmouth harbour (1995 – 1996 ish)

As it was Wales, the weather could be extremely variable.  As you can see, this was not one of the very best days, but not too bad (it’s not raining!), or too hot (one year – maybe 1995 – it was scorching, we had a plague of ladybirds – yes really – and it was so hot we couldn’t go down to the beach until 5pm).

Barmouth Bridge (1995-1996) - the bridge is for the Cambrian Coast Railway line

Barmouth Bridge (1995-1996) – the bridge is for the Cambrian Coast Railway line

These photos were taken by me on one of those holidays during a walk on the headland with my family.  Though I can’t remember when exactly, I’m fairly sure that it was around 1995 – 96, so I would have been about 9 or 10 years old.  Please excuse the quality, this was the days of film cameras after all, with 24 or 36 exposures…. eeh, kids today, they don’t know they’re born!

It’s the time on the beach that I remember most of all (including having such a good time that I had to be persuaded for around an hour that it was time to leave).  My memories of that are all tied in with memories of my wonderful Grandpa, who encouraged me to be adventurous, swim further out (but never too far) and was always eager to join in our silly games, even if it meant being buried in the sand!  Anyway, back to the design, before I wallow in mid-nineties nostalgia any more…..

Barmouth headband

Barmouth headband
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

Welsh beaches are very windy, so a headband would be the perfect accessory to a walk along the shoreline or a day at the beach!  With this in mind and thoughts of the ripples in the sand, I began to work out some cable and lace ripple patterns that would go together well but still make a sturdy enough fabric to keep your hair in check.

Barmouth Headband

Barmouth Headband
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

Starting with an i-cord tie, you increase into rib, which flows into the rippling cable and lace patterns, then back into rib, ready to decrease for the i-cord tie at the other end.

You can easily adjust the size of the headband by working fewer cable and lace pattern repeats before decreasing, if you wanted to make a child’s headband for example. Rowan Silkystones (a mix of silk and linen with a really beautiful sheen and soft handle) is a lovely yarn to work with, but if you wanted something easier to care for Rowan Handknit Cotton knits to the same tension and would make a great substitute if you wanted to make a headband for a child, and there are lots of bright colours to choose from too.

Because I’m feeling brave, here’s a photo of me, in Barmouth, wearing a headband, aged about 9 or 10 (I was always very small for my age):

Me in Barmouth, about 9 or 10 years old

Me in Barmouth, about 9 or 10 years old

My Grandpa was long gone by the time I learnt to knit, so he never saw any of my designs, but Grandpa, this one is for you.

Lottie x