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

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Yarn Shop Day – This Saturday!

This Saturday (3rd May) is Yarn Shop Day!

Yarn Shop Day 3rd May 2014

Launched by Let’s Knit Magazine, Yarn Shop Day is part of their ‘Love Your Yarn Shop’ campaign and lots of yarn shops across the country are holding special events to help you get to know your yarn shop better.  You can find events happening in your local area here.

Yarn Shop Day 3rd May 2014

I’m lucky enough to have the best job a knitter can have, working at my independent LYS (local yarn shop), Stash Fine Yarns in Chester (I work part time and today is one of my days off, so don’t worry I’m not skiving!) and we’re really excited about the event we’re holding this Saturday!

So what’s going on at Stash on Saturday? 

We’ll be open from 11am – 5pm for all this:

Louisa Harding is visiting us in the afternoon with a trunk show!  She’ll be bringing a selection of her design samples from her latest books and will be available to sign her books too.  Louisa has visited us before during her Himalayan Hiking Hats campaign to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and she’s really friendly and enthusiastic so I’m sure you’ll all enjoy meeting her.

Andy from the Chester Wool Company (who supply independent hand dyers with undyed yarns) will be joining us too and he’ll also be bringing along some yummy Fyberspates yarns!

We’ll all be demonstrating knitting techniques during the day, such as mattress stitch, magic loop, Jeny’s Surprisingly stretchy bind/cast off, Kitchener Stitch and more, there’ll be refreshments, goodie bags and a raffle.  It’s sure to be a good day, so do come and join us if you’re in the local area.

You can find directions to Stash Fine Yarns including a map here

So why are local yarn shops important?  Well, as a knitter, if you are lucky enough to have a local yarn shop they really are an invaluable resource and it really is a case of ‘use it or lose it’.  Who knows, there might be one near you that you didn’t know about, so why not check here, or do an internet search on ‘yarn shop (insert your area/town/city here)’, you could be surprised!

Reasons to Love Your Yarn Shop:

  • Get to feel the textures of the yarns

This can make all the different to your project, enabling you to pick the right yarn to really make your project sing.  Plus, the more yarns you get to know, the easier it will be to choose the right fibres for your next project.  Also if you want advice about whether or not the yarn you’ve fallen in love with will suit the project you want to make, you can get it, which brings me to my next point….

  • Help from knowledgeable staff

Yarn shop staff are as passionate about knitting as you are!  We’re always interested in what you’re making and personally I love being able to give other knitters help with their projects.  If you’ve bought a pattern at your LYS and you’re having trouble with it there is usually someone on hand who can explain that new cast on, or advise you why you need that circular needle and which length you should buy for the collar on that cardigan.

  • Advice on yarn substitutions

You know how it is.  You really love that pattern and you’re desperate to make it, but either the yarn has been discontinued, or isn’t available in this country, or just isn’t a yarn that you like (maybe you’re allergic to wool, or don’t the colour range).  But you still have to knit that pattern.  What to do?  Why not ask for help at your LYS?  We know a lot about our yarn ranges and can usually show you plenty of different options for suitable substitutions, and make sure you have the correct amount of yarn to complete your project (remember, you need the same number of metres of yarn, not the same number of grams, but don’t worry, we’ll do all the maths for you).

  • Colour matching

If you fancy making a cardigan to go with that new dress, or a pretty shawl to go with a wedding outfit, or maybe you just want to see if that colour will really suit your skin tone, seeing the yarn in the flesh is essential!

  • Choosing patterns more efficiently

If you’re just starting out as a knitter, why not ask the assistant to point you in the direction of patterns suitable for your current skills?  Most shops will have a range of patterns for all abilities.  Whether you’re looking for a christening shawl or an Aran style sweater, if you ask an assistant to help you find what you’re after, you’ll save yourself a lot of time.

  • A second opinion

Which yarn is more hardwearing?  Will this one have good stitch definition?  Which pattern is easier to knit?  Which needles will suit my style of knitting best?  Your yarn shop can help you with all these questions!

So if you can, go and support your local yarn shop this Saturday!  We’d love to see you 🙂

Lottie x

As rare as hen’s teeth…

Last Monday I achieved something I thought fairly impossible for me and finished two projects in one day!  When it’s not deadline knitting I’m not very disciplined – I think it’s a reaction to having three to four weeks or sometimes much less to make a sample and write the pattern and having to be very disciplined in order to get it done in between going to work, sleeping and eating.

(Stop laughing.)

The first was something secret-ish that I’d been working on for about a week:

Mystery project

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I can’t tell you much about this at the moment, except that it’s made from Noro yarn, so the colours are gorgeous.  Hopefully soon I’ll be able to show you more (soon might be two weeks or two months, as I’m fitting this in between other projects).

Once I’d finished this, I was on a roll, so I dug these out of my project bag:

Half-finished mitts

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Remember them?  They’re the Louisa Harding Charm Mittens that I started for a KAL back in June.  Yes, June.  Shush!  Other things got in the way of finishing these in time for the KAL (which finished at the end of June) and they’ve been hibernating ever since, with just the thumb on the left mitten to do and a the seams to sew on the same hand.  (They were a bit further on than in this picture, but I just wanted to get them finished, so I didn’t take another picture until they were done.)

A little while later I had these finished too!  Yay!  (Only 5 months late.  *blushes*)  You can see them on Ravelry here.

Finished Charm Mitts

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I really pleased with both my projects, but it’s been unseasonably mild over the past week, so I’ve not worn either of them yet.  But old habits die hard, so rather than being good and finishing some socks, I’ve now cast on a pair of mittens and a jumper (The latter of which, it has to be said, while coming on very quickly, is not going all that well.  I may have to frog and start again.  More on that next time – keep your fingers crossed!).  There really is no cure for startitis.  *sigh*

Are you a good little project finisher, or a reprobate multiple project starter like me?

Lottie x

Too hot to knit mittens!

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

(Prepare to laugh if you live somewhere consistently hotter)

Let me explain.

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

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

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

Observe the evidence:

Half-finished mitts

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Yes, those are my Charm mittens.

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

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

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

No, that is not an out of date picture.

Yes, I am aware of the date.

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

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

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

Lottie x

Giving in to temptation….

Last week I mentioned that I wasn’t really making much progress on my socks, and that I was tempted by some exciting yarn…….

Matching gloves?

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

…….. well I succumbed, because I am weak when it comes to yarn and pretty projects.

I’d been thinking of making a pair of Charm fingerless mittens from Louisa Harding’s book Three Graces for a while to match my Wagtail hat (from Mr Magpie by Louisa Harding).

Wagtail Hat crown

Wagtail Hat
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Well, on Sunday I gave in to temptation and cast on, aided and abetted by the current KAL (or knit-a-long, for the uninitiated) on the Louisa Harding Lovers group on Ravelry (come and join us, we’re very friendly!).

I can’t believe how quickly they are knitting up!  I was soon done with the cuff:

Charm KAL cuff

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

…… and by the end of the day I’d nearly finished and just had the last two rows and the picot cast off to go!  (It’s amazing what you can get done whilst watching the Canadian Grand Prix!)

Ignore the oversized stitch holder.  If I’d stopped to find a smaller one I might have missed some of the action!

Charm KAL: first mitten nearly done!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Before you ask, yes, I was very close to finishing, but when you’re falling asleep mid-row it’s time to stop and go to bed (yes, I know, I lead a very wild, rock and roll existence).

I’ve now cast off the main body of this mitten in Grace Hand Beaded and I’ve just got the thumb to knit and then I’m half way!

Some KAL participants have already finished, but shhh!  I had other things to finish first (but not my poor neglected socks). 

The Charm KAL runs from the 1st June 2013 until the 30th June and there are prizes!  If you fancy joining in, head over to the discussion board on Ravelry for full details.

Have you ever taken part in a KAL?  Did you enjoy it?

Lottie x

WIP Amnesty Part 2: Finished again!

The Marathon finishing spree continues with something that hasn’t been on the needles quite as long as the last project was.

This is Wagtail by Louisa Harding from her recent book of accessories Mr Magpie which I was lucky enough to get signed by Louisa when she visited Stash last September as part of her Himalayan Hiking Hats fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support (do spare a moment to look at these pages if you can).

Wagtail Hat crown

I’ve only had this on the needles since about October or November, so by my standards not so long!  This was one of those projects that I started and then had to leave in order to knit new designs, so I didn’t stop this because I was bored.

Wagtail Hat welt

I really enjoyed knitting this.  As with all of Louisa’s patterns it was fun to knit, and the stitch patterns flow into each other in a very pleasing way, right from the mock cable rib, through the lace pattern, to the mock cables at the crown.  You can tell that this design has had a lot of thought put into it.

Wagtail Hat pattern transition

Oh and the yarn is beautiful.  The colour!  The beads!  The sheen!  The silky texture!  The colour!  (Can you tell I love the colour?)

It’s knitted in Louisa Harding Grace Silk Wool and Grace Hand Beaded in a beautiful sapphire blue (Grace shade #11 and Grace Hand Beaded shade#013).

Wagtail Hat lace

I love the combination of the Grace and Grace hand beaded in the same colour.  There are just enough beads to give a little sparkle, but not so much that it distracts from the lace pattern and with the coordinating colour of non-beaded Grace, you can space the beads out more.

I really enjoyed making this, and I loved using these yarns so much that I am already planning another project in these yarns.  I really like Louisa’s unashamedly feminine style and I have a few of her books, so watch this space.

One more WIP to finish and then I will allow myself to start one new project 🙂

Keeping score

No. of WIPs now (assuming I really did have 7 to begin with): 5

No. of FOs (Finished objects): 2

Next time…….fairisle!

Lottie x

All photographs Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013