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

Barmouth Headband

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

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

Barmouth (about 1995-96 ish)

Barmouth (about 1995-96 ish)

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

Boats in Barmouth harbour (1995 - 1996 ish)

Boats in Barmouth harbour (1995 – 1996 ish)

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

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

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

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

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

Barmouth headband

Barmouth headband
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

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

Barmouth Headband

Barmouth Headband
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2014

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

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

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

Me in Barmouth, about 9 or 10 years old

Me in Barmouth, about 9 or 10 years old

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

Lottie x

One step forward, two steps back

A while ago I mentioned that in celebration of the amazing (for me anyway) feat of finishing two projects in one day I’d cast on two new projects, a pair of mittens and a sweater.

One of these projects has gone amazingly well (The mittens!  They’re finished and I love them, but it’s been so dark wet and gloomy here that all attempts at photos have been poor at best.) but seeing as it’s you, I’ll show you the best picture of a bad bunch:

Autumn Bloom Mitts

If you’re looking covetously at them, they’re called Autumn Bloom Mitts by Rachel Atkinson and they’re in the current issue of Knit Now (Issue 27).  If you fancy seeing some much better pictures, Rachel has written about them on her blog here.  More about the mitts next time, when I hope to have some better pictures to show you.

……….as for the other, well……. the least said about it the better, but this is a blog, so it doesn’t work like that.

I’ve had some lovely green Rowan Cocoon in my stash for about a couple of years now and as the weather was cooling off I thought it was time I put it to good use.

Originally I’d bought it to make this but then I changed my mind, because although it is beautiful, I’ve never really been sure about sleeveless jumpers.  Also there is no waist shaping and it is sized quite generously, two things which tend to result in me looking as if I’ve borrowed someone else’s clothes as I’m quite petite (so to make it work I would probably have to alter it a bit).

So after a bit of deliberating I decided to make an Owls sweater (by Kate Davies), a pattern which cannot have escaped your notice, unless you’ve been living under a knitted rock for the past few years.  It’s a fitted sweater, I’ve always wanted to make one and the world and his wife have made an Owls in Rowan Cocoon….. perfect!

Before I go any further I must stress that none of the problems I’ve had with this project are caused by the pattern, which is excellent.  All the issue are down to a) my fussiness, b) my yarn choice.

Diligently, I checked my tension (in the round – I want to do this properly).  I’m a tight knitter, so I wasn’t surprised when I got a tension of 16 sts and 20 rounds to 10cm (unblocked) on the recommended 6.5mm needle, so I went up to a 7mm needle and 14 sts and 19 rounds.

At this point I decided that although it was still a little tighter stitch wise than the recommended tension of 13 sts and 20 rows, I didn’t want a looser fabric, so I decided to make one size up from the size I would usually make.

Excitedly I cast on and the pattern just seemed to whizz by!  Looks ok doesn’t it?

Green Owls Sweater

Before I knew it I had completed the waist decreases and increases, but I was a little concerned at the fabric and how loose it was.  I checked my tension.  It was still just as I expected, 14 sts and 19 rounds.

If I’m honest I was a little baffled.  This tension gives a drapey fabric with a teeny little bit of stretch, not at all right for a close fitting jumper and quite likely to stretch out to shape over time.  Yet the recommended tension for this yarn is 14 sts and 18 rows on a 7mm needle (so slightly looser again on the rows – unsurprising as working in the round will tighten the row/round tension for most knitters as purl stitches tend to be slightly looser than knit stitches) so it’s not as if I was working at tension that was looser than recommended for the yarn.

Look at it!  it’s see through, even when it’s just stretched a little!

Green Owls Sweater

I checked several projects on Ravelry using Cocoon and none of them mentioned being the fabric being to loose, although some did mention it stretching out of shape after a few wears.

Then I tried the jumper on and although it fitted nicely it was clear that the fabric would be too open when stretched (Owls is meant to be knitted with some negative ease – meaning the jumper is supposed to be smaller than your actual measurements).  In a last desperate attempt to avoid frogging, I wet blocked a small section for comparison, it the hope that the yarn would ‘bloom’ a little and fill out the stitches.  Unfortunately, quite the opposite happened and the fabric just became more drapey and open.

I guess I’m being very fussy, but I decided to frog it 😦 I’ve now cast on for the next size up again and having checked that my tension will still produce a similar size, I’ve gone down to 6.5mm needle again.

Wish me luck!

Lottie x

P.S.  Do you fancy test knitting a simple cowl in DK or Aran?  If you have 100 – 200g of yarn in contrasting colours to hand (50 – 100g of each colour) lurking in your stash you’re on Ravelry, can take a reasonable photo of your work, and you liked the look of the mystery Noro thing here, you could be just the knitter(s) I’m looking for.  (Noro is not required, this is a stashbusting project perfect for Christmas gifts.)  If you think you might be interested, leave me a comment and keep you eyes peeled for a post next week.