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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Going dotty!

Hello everyone!

Long time no see!  (Figuratively of course,  I can’t really see you.  Except you there in the pyjamas, go and get dressed!)

Once again I should apologise for my lack of posting, it’s been one of those years where life gets in the way of blogging.  As is traditional, I’ve once again missed my Blogiversary last month (as I have every year so far I think!) oops!

Anyway enough of this aimless chatter, I guess you want to know what I’ve been knitting?  Well, quite few things I can’t show you yet, but all will be revealed in due course.  At the moment though, I’m having a bit of rest from knitting new designs and taking the opportunity to have a go at a pattern that has been intriguing me for a little while.

Dotted Rays

The pattern in question is Dotted Rays by Stephen West.  I’ve chosen to use a self striping yarn, Louisa Harding Amitola, in shade #120/Winter Rose, but although there is a self striping version of this pattern (written for worsted weight yarn) I’m using the original version as it is much closer to the thickness of yarn I’m using.  (Louisa Harding Amitola is sold as a DK weight yarn, but it really knits up much more likes 4ply).  I’m using 4mm needles to give the fabric a nice airy feel while still keeping it soft and bouncy.

It’s a really interesting construction, with increases and short rows creating a crescent shape.  I’m really enjoying the relaxing simplicity of the garter stitch combined with the rhythm of the increases and short rows.  It’s just simple enough to do while watching TV, yet interesting enough to occupy my mind.

Dotted Rays

The other thing I’m enjoying about this project is the yarn!  I wanted to use self striping yarn to highlight the unique construction of this shawl (which should be easier for you to see when I’ve knitted a bit more of it).  I love the colours in this particular shade, Winter Rose.  It shades from black to dark green to light grass green, then back to dark green and black and on to deep pink and repeats in this sequence throughout.  I love that the colour sequence is mirrored like this, unlike Noro yarns for example, which have a more linear progression.  It’s a great motivator too!  I can’t wait to knit another short row wedge and get to the next colour!

Which pattern have you found addictive?

Happy Knitting! 😀

Lottie x

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

Finally… Hadlow Cowl!

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

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

Hadlow Cowl

Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

….. and my new Ravelry group:

Lottieknits Ravelry group

Oh yes, it’s all kicking off today!

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

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

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

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

Hadlow Cowl

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

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

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

Hadlow Cowl

Photo Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

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

Enjoy!

Lottie x

 

Foxy Loxy!

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

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

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

But this kit was different.

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

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

Finlay the fox kit

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

Fred-in-progress

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

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

Finished Fred!

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

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

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

Fred at Stash

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

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

Lottie x

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

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

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