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

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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

Tian – A rather unusual design story!

Yesterday, I showed you my latest design, Tian, a pair of fairisle mittens that (to my great excitement, as this is a first for me) made the front cover of Let’s Knit! magazine:

Let's Knit Issue 76 February 2014

Copyright Let’s Knit! 2014

At the end of the post I mentioned that Marvin might be involved in the rather daft design story behind these mittens.  Perplexed?  Well, prepare to be less perplexed (and quite possibly think I’m completely mad).

Marvin, for those of you who might be new to this blog, is a rather dapper little meerkat:

Marvin the Meerkat!

Meet Marvin the Meerkat!
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

I made him about a year ago, after my brother bought me a particularly amusing knitting book for Christmas called ‘Knitted Meerkats’ by Sue Stratford (if you click that link and look at the projects on Ravelry you’ll see that Marvin has many little knitted cousins around the world).  Anyway, meerkats are desert creatures, used to warmer climes than chilly, wet and generally dismal Britain in winter, so Marvin was clearly going to need something to wear.

The book has a section of different meerkats that you can make, each with it’s own outfit, some of with are separate and some sewn on.  One of these is the skiing meerkat who wears a sweater and bobble hat along with his knitted skis.  In the book, the sweater is a fairly simple affair, striped with a small band of fairisle dots in white mohair yarn against a pale blue background, but I had a different picture in my head of the sweater I wanted to make.  To be a true skier, Marvin needed a proper, Nordic style fairisle sweater:

Marvin's Nordic sweater

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I wanted to put a snowflake on the front, but the area to play with was too small, so I charted out the size of the original sweater and fiddled about with the stitches until I had something I liked.  I had to alter the shape of the sweater quite a lot to make it fit, as the stranded pattern changed the tension compared to the original.

It’s so cosy, Marvin even went out in the snow last March:

Marvin's Nordic sweater

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

After I’d finished the sweater, my Mum mentioned that she liked the motif, and did I think it would work as an all over pattern?  Never one to refuse a challenge, I started charting, and after a few alterations I knitted a swatch:

Tian Swatch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Once I’d knitted this, especially after adding the folded picot hem at the top and the corrugated ribbing at the bottom edge, it was clear to me that the swatch wanted to be mittens.  So it was time to sketch:

Tian Mittens Swatch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I sent it off to Sarah at Let’s Knit and she liked it!  Before I knew it my first choice of yarn (and a personal favourite), Manos Del Uruguay Fino (70% wool, 30% silk) in #2440 Lapis and #2800 Cream had arrived, so last summer I got started and knitted them up!

Tian Mittens

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The pattern goes right the way round the mittens, even on the palms, and the thumbs have their own smaller complementary pattern (I love the thumbs on these!):

Tian Mittens

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

(You can tell this was in August from the flowers in the background!)  Then, yesterday, the best bit, seeing them in print:

Tian Mitts

Copyright Let’s Knit! 2014

…. and on the front cover of the magazine, something I certainly never dreamed of when I set out to make Marvin the meerkat a silly, overcomplicated fairisle sweater and wrote this:

Marvin has a sweater, but as I decided to make up a fairisle pattern for it, as the sweater in the book was too simple (i.e. perfectly adequate for anyone without a burning and unnecesary desire for fairisle) – and Marvin deserves only the best ;)

Basically I made a small stuffed meerkat an overcomplicated fairisle sweater (sanity anyone?), which turned into an idea for an overall repeating pattern (which I am swatching), I can’t show it to you, because it might become a design.  *sigh*

Yay!

Let's Knit! Issue 76 cover

Copyright Let’s Knit! 2014

Yes, I am still doing a happy dance.

No you can’t see.

It’s not very dignified.

Happy Knitting lovely blog followers!

Lottie xx

(P.S. Is it wrong for me to be just a little bit chuffed at being in the same magazine as Pauline McLynn, who played Mrs Doyle in Father Ted?  She knits too!)

Echo Mitts

Exciting news!  I have a pattern in the latest issue of Let’s Knit, out today (Friday 15th November)!

Echo Mitts

Copyright Let’s Knit Magazine 2013 (used with kind permission)

These are my Echo mitts knitted in Manos Del Uruguay Fino (my favourite, I’ve used it so many times and I really love knitting with it) and Rowan Kidsilk Haze (another yarn I keep coming back to).

Like many good ideas, these mitts came from another idea that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.  I’d had the Manos Fino left over from Cleome and I’d bought one ball of Kidsilk Haze with the intention of combining it with another yarn.

I had intended to swatch for some ruched mittens and picked these yarns out simply because they happened to be near to each other in a rather disorganised section of my stash and I noticed how well they co-ordinated with each other (unusual for two yarns from different manufacturers, as each brand tends to have it’s own colour palette – Debbie Bliss yarns for example often include a duck egg blue in their colour range and Rowan tend to have fewer very bright colours than other brands, Louisa Harding yarns also tend to have a very distinctive palette which crops up across her whole range).

The ruched idea didn’t really work and just looked a mess, but I liked the contrast between the textures of the yarns, so I undid the swatch and started again, working broad stripes (without ruching this time) and a pretty lacy scalloped edging.

Then I added a garter stitch edge on one side and some buttons:

Echo Mitts swatch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

… and a cosy lined hem:

Echo Mitts swatch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I didn’t really plan the design before swatching, instead just going with whichever design elements I liked best.  Sometimes I think this is when you design best, when the ideas just flow on to your needles without thinking too hard or overanalysing what works and what doesn’t.  Sometimes you just know if you’re happy with it or not.

Then it was time for a sketch:

Echo Mitts sketch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Once they had been commissioned all that was left was to knit them up (while watching Father Ted on 4od, which kept me sane as I didn’t have very long to make them – but then it’s easy to look sane compared to most of the characters) and write up the pattern – not much if you say it quickly!

It’s been a little while since I made these, but it’s really nice to see them professionally photographed 🙂 I can’t wait to get the sample back, so I can wear them.  They’re really comfy to wear, incredibly light but really warm because the mohair in the Kidsilk Haze traps the heat despite it’s sheer appearance.

Echo Mitts

Copyright Let’s Knit 2013 (used with kind permission)

If you fancy making a pair they don’t take very much yarn, I used less than half a skein of each, so you could easily make two pairs from a skein of each yarn, or use left overs of plain 4ply yarn and laceweight in either coordinating or contrasting colours.  They’d look great in black and white – or how about using Rowan Kidsilk Haze Eclipse or Debbie Bliss Party Angel (both of which have a bit of sparkle) instead of Rowan Kidsilk Haze for a more glamourous look?

Alternatively, if you wanted you could use two 4ply yarns and use up your stash!  I made the sample in a week, so you’ve got plenty of time to make some for Christmas gifts if you’re feeling generous 🙂

Hope you like them!

Lottie x

A few of my favourite things…

….. raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things!

Well not really…. apart from the warm woollen mittens of course!  I love mittens 🙂 but I prefer parcels of yarn to be packed in something a little studier than brown paper and string!

However, I do have a few favourite things when designing.  Some, like these bird books are things I have been fond of since childhood.  I have always loved watching the birds in our garden.  Not just the fancy ones, but the everyday birds as well.   They all have their different personalities!

Woodpigeons seem dopey and inept at anything except eating and chasing a potential mate.  They will pick up one twig at a time when nest building, having carefully selected it, then put it down in what looks like a moment of doubt, before picking up another, almost identical twig.  This goes on and on in a cycle to the point where you are amazed that they can actually build a nest at all!

Blackbirds are aggressive and very territorial, but this is offset by a rather comical ‘livid hop’ as I call it, towards their bitter rival.  Sparrows are playful, hopping in and out of puddles and chirping excitedly, and Magpies are furtive, and wait until you’re not looking to snatch those scraps of leftover food from the garden.

Bird Books

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Not only are the birds themselves inspiring, but their Latin names can make especially good pattern names 😉

I also have sketchbooks and notebooks aplenty, which are always to hand if I have an idea worth preserving in the middle of the night (this is not unusual)!  This one is huge and handily spiral bound with sections of plain, lined and graph paper which is especially handy if I think of a charted lace or colourwork pattern that I want to jot down.  I also has a handy pocket at the back which is useful for any inspiring cuttings and pictures (if you look carefully you might notice that this is stuffed with such things).  If this sounds good to you, Paperchase do these every season in different cover designs (although there is usually only one to choose from at any time) so get yourself down there!

Sketch book

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

This one was bought for me for Christmas a couple of years ago by my colleague Anne along with a perfectly proportioned propelling pencil (try saying that quickly), and though much smaller than the other book, it has all the same features, plus several little clear pockets throughout, which are perfect for keeping errant yarn labels next to the pattern I’m drafting so all the yardage and content information is close at hand!

Little sketch book

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

It’s also the perfect size to slip in your bag or take on holiday, so now I never have to be without my sketchbook.  I love the pattern on the cover, which makes me think of Japanese Amigurumi toys!  Weirdly, the colours and pastel rainbows also remind me of (80’s/90’s throwback alert) Care Bears (although if you have no idea of what Care Bears are, I suggest you avoid clicking that link and remember that sometimes, ignorance is bliss).

What do you like to keep handy when you’re knitting?

Lottie x

Why do we blog?

Why do you blog? That was the question posed on knitnrun4sanity’s blog last week.

For me this is a difficult question to answer briefly, as my reasons for starting my blog are now rather different from my reasons for continuing it.

To be blunt, I started my blog because I felt that I should. As a designer, it is important to have a presence on the Internet other than just Ravelry (which I still think is very important, as it gives knitters a very direct contact with you for pattern support, and also I love to see projects made from my patterns 😊 and help anyone who asks me a question, as much as I can). I didn’t have a presence like this and after researching a few options, I decided on WordPress.

But despite creating my blog in February 2012, I was too nervous and hesitant to post at first. I had so many doubts. What should I post about? Should I just post about new designs? If I posted on other occasions, what on earth would I post about? How would I keep it interesting? How would I find the time? How much of myself should I put out there? I’m naturally quite a shy person, especially around strangers, and I tend to keep myself to myself, so this in particular was a difficult question for me. It is important to put a little of yourself out there, otherwise your blog will lack personality, but I found it very difficult to open up.

Even once I had answered all these questions, one massive question remained. Would anyone even want to read it? I was so beset by these doubts that I did not actually post anything on my blog until June 2012. (Yes, I know, I missed my first Blogiversary 😳 oops! Let’s call this the Blogiversary post – shhh! I won’t tell anyone it’s late if you don’t – what’s three months between friends?).

What pushed me to post was my decision to release my first self published pattern, Moon River. I felt that I had to make the effort to post, so I jumped in at the deep end. But I remember how long it took my to write that short and uninventive post. I just didn’t know what to write and how to write it. Was it ok to just be myself? How does this WordPress thing even work? It was certainly a steep learning curve.

I continued posting intermittently, trying to find a blogging voice and get the courage to just be myself in my posts. The first time I thought I was maybe getting there was when I posted this, ‘Mae: from sketchbook to pattern book’ about the journey from initial design idea to published pattern, as I remember how many questions I had about the process before I designed myself. I was amazed by the response. People read it! They liked it! Buoyed up by this I began to post more, but then it all tailed off as I was quite busy with my designing and writing posts still took me a long time, with many edits.

What really turned my blogging around was Knitting and Crochet Blog Week from Eskimimi Makes. I came across it by chance and thought I should set myself the challenge of posting every day for a week on the topics that had been chosen. Although it was a lot of work, I found it very rewarding and also liberating to post about other topics and in other styles that I might not have otherwise considered.

Stuff like this:

Venn diagram

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

It also helped me to find some lovely people in the knitting blog community who I wouldn’t otherwise have found. Now I blog because I enjoy interacting with you all. I just hope that all enjoy reading it! I try to blog with a sense of humour, as I would if were chatting to you all in real life. I always look forward to your comments and to reading your blogs and leaving comments on them. I even get excited about particular posts because I’m looking forward to seeing what your reaction will be.

I feel much more confident on blogging about other knitting related things in between designs, especially at times when I don’t have any knitting to show you because it is top secret and I enjoy thinking up ideas for new posts 😊. A couple of days ago I reached the milestone of 100 followers, something I never thought I would achieve in the uncertain months after starting the blog, when I even wondered if it was something I should be doing at all.

Why do I blog now? Because of you!

Thank you!

Lottie xx

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

Avocetta

Avocetta Capelet

Avocetta
Photograph Copyright Dam Walmsley for Practical Publishing 2013 (used with permission)

I’m lucky enough to have a design in the latest issue of Knit Now Magazine (Issue 21, which is out today)!  I love the photos!  They are styled exactly as I imagined when I designed the capelet.

Avocetta Capelet

Avocetta
Photograph Copyright Dam Walmsley for Practical Publishing 2013 (used with permission)

Avocetta is a pretty little capelet featuring twisted stitches, lace with integrated shaping, pleats and i-cord ties incorporated into an i-cord cast off.  It’s sized to fit UK size 8 – 26 and only uses 100g of Manos Del Uruguay Fino for all sizes (I loved using this yarn for Cleome, so I was excited to have a second opportunity to use it).

But enough of all that – you want to know how it was designed!

The theme for this particular issue was Tea Dance, which immediately got me thinking of pretty, feminine things, lace, full-skirted dresses and things to wear with them.

With this in mind I got to thinking about capelets.  I wanted something with an edge that wasn’t straight, but I still wanted it to look delicate.  I didn’t want the edge itself to be too lacy though, as I wanted it to hold its shape.  I kept thinking about all these things until they crystallised a little more.  Then I started thinking about birds and their feathers.

Eventually all these things combined in a swatch:

Avocetta swatch

Swatchy swatchy!
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

I chose twisted stitches for the edge of the capelet and then a succession of feather shaped lace patterns gradually decreasing towards the top of the swatch.  Thinking about the shaping of those full-skirted dresses, I added pleats at the top of the swatch.  I wanted to add an i-cord to tie it around your shoulders, but I thought a neater solution was required.  Why not run the i-cord ties into an i-cord cast off?  That would make the top edge nice and neat, with no fiddly ribbons to lose and best of all….. no finishing!!

Swatch knitted, it was time to sketch, making sure I got across the feel of the design and the sort of styling I imagined:

Avocetta Sketch

Avocetta Sketch
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012-2013)

Now you can see why I’m so pleased with the styling and photos – it really is just as I imagined!

If you want to see more Avocetta goodness, you can check it out on Ravelry here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/avocetta and if you want to see me looking tired and wearing the sample 😮 you can look at my project page here

Hope you all like it 🙂

Lottie x

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

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