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

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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

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

Glacier Hat

Once again it’s been mad – one day I will have some time to blog consistenly/rest/socialise/knit something I get to keep/do Christmas shopping in something other than a blind panic (ie yesterday afternoon)!  However the considerable upside of all this is that I’ve got a couple of exciting things that I will be able to tell you about next year.  Yay!  But not yet.

Until then, I’ve got a newly published design in Knit Now Issue 16 to tell you about 🙂

If you know me, then you also probably know that I have a weakness for hats.  I also am a bit of a magpie, especialy where beads are concerned, so what better way to combine the two than in a beaded hat?

I had a skein of pale icy blue Manos Silk Blend (shade #7338 Aquarius – not usually my sort of colour, but perfect for this design) in my stash, which I bought with the idea of swatching it with pale sparkly beads, keeping to the icy theme, and an idea for an unusual way of encorporating beads into one of my favourite stitch patterns.

So after a bit of swacthing and a sketch, I sent it off to the lovely Kate at Knit Now, and it got accepted – yay!

Design sketch of Glacier Hat

My sketch!
Image Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012

So here it is – and what else would I call it but Glacier?

Beaded Hat using drop stithc pattern

Glacier Hat from Knit Now Issue 16
Photograph Copyright Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing (used with kind permission)

Beads are knitted into alternate panels of the drop stitch pattern replacing the ladders that you usually get (knitting them into every panel would have made that hat a bit too heavy), and in between the drop stitches, there are tiny mock cables which continue from the welt into the main pattern……

Stitch details (little cables and beads

Stitch pattern detail – I love these little mock cables – so satisfying to knit!
Image Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012

…..and the pattern comes together satisfyingly at the crown.

Back detail of Glacier Hat

Back detail – I love the convergence of the pattern!
Photograph Copyright Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing (used with kind permission)

If you fancy giving Glacier a go, remember to choose a yarn with a high wool content.  Manos Silk Blend may have silk in it, but it is 70% wool – really important for this pattern, as you need the hat to keep its shape under the weight of the beads (the hat is also seamed to help keep it from stretching, and all this means that it keeps its shape perfectly).  Talking of beads, I got mine from Debbie Abrahams Beads, (size 6 clear beads) I chose clear silver lined beads, but there are lots of other colours to choose from.  I’m really tempted to make another version in brighter colours – maybe with more than one colour of beads….hmmm………no one minds if they don’t get a Christmas card or gift do they?!

If you want to get your hands on this pattern, and lots of other lovely patterns, Knit Now Issue 16 is in the shops now, and you can also find it here at Stash!

Merry Christmas!

Lottie x

P.S. Yes, I am also on page 3 of Knit Now – my answer to the designer question got picked 🙂 yay! (and no it isn’t that sort of page 3 – thank goodness)! 

Honeycomb Cowl

Hello everyone!

It’s been a little while hasn’t it?  I’ve been away on holiday, hence the lack of posts, and while I’ve been away some of things I’ve been working on over the summer have been published – very exciting!  I’ve had a few things published now, but I still love seeing my designs in print with beautiful professional photos.  More of the other patterns soon, but today I have a pattern in Knit Now (Issue 13 Gifted Knits Supplement) to tell you about.

Honeycomb Cowl

Honeycomb Cowl from Knit Now Issue 13 Gifted Knits Supplement
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012

The Honeycomb Cowl started life as a reversible cable stitch that I had been playing about with.  I really love reversible stitches, so ever since I’d discovered this while playing around with cable stitches I ‘d been wanting to design something with it.  The design brief this time was simply something that you could knit as a Christmas gift.  So it needed to be quick to knit without being too simple and boring to make (sometimes the reason I end up with UFOs), and not use too much yarn.  The reversible honeycomb stitch that I’d been playing around with seemed perfect!  I could use it to make a cowl with none of those ‘what happens when it drapes and you see the wrong side?’ problems.

Honeycomb Cowl Swatch

Swatch of reversible honeycomb cable stitch
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012

Then I thought about other things that might make the cowl a bit more wearable.  What if I made it flare out over the shoulders like this?

Honeycomb Cowl Sketch

Honeycomb Cowl Sketch
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012

So I decided on a cowl in reversible honeycomb cable stitch, with built in shaping about halfway up narrowing the cowl towards the neck, knitted in the round.  Easy, but not so easy that you get fed up before you’ve finished.  I chose Artesano Aran for the design as I wanted a yarn that was sturdy enough to keep out the wind on a cold day, but soft enought to wear against your neck.  It also has great stitch definition (really important for cables), and I found it worked really well on larger needles than those recommended on the label (I used 6mm needles to give the fabric a bit more drape).

It knitted up really quickly, and best of all there are no seams!  Just a couple of ends to sew in and I was done.  My cowl took about one and a half skeins of Artesano Aran, so if you are making them as gifts you could get two cowls from three skeins (other yarns will vary, so check the total yardage is the same if you are using yarn from your stash)!

I really hope you like it – if you want to get your hands on the pattern for my Honeycomb Cowl (and lots of other lovely patterns) Knit Now Issue 13 is in the shops now, or pop over to their website if you want to buy one directly.  I’d love to see your versions if you make one!

Lottie x