Stones and Stripes revisited. Darkly.

Do you ever make something and then wish you’d chosen a different colour? I’ve decided this could, possibly, be one of the coolest things about having a studio filled with yarn dye…endless overdyeing options!

I’ve blogged previously on the gloriousness of the Stones and Stripes shawl, which was knit up in Islington ‘Light Squirrelly‘ – a shimmering light taupe. Here is another picture of it, a before-and-after of unblocked to blocked:


I have been wearing this around quite happily for more than a month and getting many compliments, but when it comes right down to it had to admit it just wasn’t great for my olive skin tone. The light hue was just washing me out!

In a fit of impulse I decided I would pop the shawl into a bath of my charcoal ‘Old Smoke‘ colourway. I have been desperately craving something in this colour but have had NO time to knit myself something…so time for a quick fix!


I am so glad I did and can barely keep myself from wearing it before Unwind Brighton in July. The only thing that is keeping me from it is the thought of blocking it all again in 2 weeks for the show! Hands off for now…right?


Summer Garland

Another inspiration post today! For those of you who missed this, a cute new Pickles pattern went up on their site a few weeks ago.

This one is a fairly simple colourwork project and might be a good one for a first large-scale fairisle project as it is in DK…? Not sure if that will make it easier, but it might. The yarn they are using is a 30% merino 70% cotton so would be light enough for summer wear, but this would be super cute as a layering piece for winter as well.

I am very tempted to cast on for this as I think the larger blocks of colour might make for easier tension control and I happen to have just the right amount of a Merino/Bamboo I can dye for it. Can you see it in grey/natural? Or mint/natural…or duck egg/grey???? Yum.

I have set myself the goal of making a few colourwork Christmas balls from Arne & Carlos’ Knitting Christmas Balls book for colourwork practice, and have finally dyed some single ply fingering I had earmarked for it!
Unfortunately reds are proving incredibly difficult to photograph, so you will just have to take it from me- the hue is a vibrant, juicy cherry red!

Camomille – comfort tea in a shawl

Enter stage left new project. The gorgeous Camomille by Helga Isager.
Alternating rows of doubled fingering/lace yarn with rows of single lace creates a lovely, light and airy  textural contrast that is knit up to a large, cozy shawl…and then has the magic element – TASSELS! These take the shawl to Frida-esque heights for me by giving it a subtle bit of Mexican flavoured panache that I have been craving since re-watching the movie Frida a few weeks ago!

The pattern I actually have in The Bird Collection book is the Dunlin shawl for children, shown below. But I can’t see a difference (can you?) so will just make it larger! This will be a shawl I can cozy up in on chilly summer evenings.
I have been planning this shawl for a few months  after seeing Leila’s jaw-dropping example on Ravelry.
She not only did a beautiful job matching her yarns, but added a lovely detail of these turquoise ceramic beads on the gorgeously fat tassels. So perfect.

I’ve decided to go halfway between the one colour version and the two-tone Dunlin version on mine, but with less contrast between the grey and pink and a titch darker overall. I  dyed up some beautiful BFL/Silk light fingering in a delicate blush almost-pink and a silky soft but weighty Baby Camel/Silk in a deep metallic pewter for this one.
I can’t tell you how good this combo feels. I have never knit anything quite so…exquisite. The BFL/Alpaca is a light, fluffy almost weightless yarn while the Baby camel/Silk gives it drape, depth and the most gorgeous shimmer. Combining the two makes a lofty/drapey hand that I just can’t really describe, but is oh-so yummy!

This combo is such a pleasure to knit I am having a hard time finishing my Buttercup! I just don’t want to put this one down. Especially as I am doing more odious twisted stich ribbing for the Buttercup and it is painful! Not least because I have done the bottom hem twice to get the tension right. Gack.
I haven’t yet decided if I will finish the final lace row with the glowing pewter silk, or the softer blush yet. Figure it will come to me the closer I get to finishing, right?

Best knit vest EVER!

I finally got my wish on Sunday as light levels were at long last high enough for me to document my Silver Bells, otherwise known as Helga Isager’s Nightingale Vest.
Now I might have been a little exuberant with the title as it is the only one I have knit up to this point, but it was so satisfying to knit with all those sculptural bells, and is so satisfying to wear as well, that I am standing by the claim (until proven otherwise)! The bell texture on the front of the vest is thick and squishy, but also very flattering as it acts a bit like ribbing so is rather figure hugging in all the right ways!

I was told at a recent knit night that it has to be seen on to be believed, so here we go:
You can see how the vest snugs in even though it was knit without any waist shaping.

It also keeps its shaping when open, due to the fab twisted stitch on the back of the vest. Love how boldly defined this stitch is.

Here it is unbuttoned.
It is very feminine and flattering without being too frilly, and is perfect to wear over this season’s smock-y dresses or toughened up with some jeans and boots.

My mods were to shorten it a bell, start the arms one bell lower and the neck shaping a bell after that (this will make sense if you are looking at the pattern!). I also finished the buttonband with i-cord buttonholes instead of knitting them in. This was my first try at these and they are a keeper for future projects, as the cord creates a nice clean edge around the whole band and the buttonholes are nearly invisible when not in use. A very nice detail to add on this one.


All in all I feel this little vest is going to be a wardrobe staple for a good many years! Success. 

Squirrelling away…

I have been blogging a bit less than usual lately as I have been very busy trying to get everything set up and ready for the new business venture!

I finally decided on a name a few weeks ago – after a LOT of too-ing and fro-ing – and have finished a logo…but still need to work on yarn base sourcing and  testing/branding/packaging/social networking/website/payment system….

Well, you get the idea! There is quite a bit left to organise and set up before I am ready to go live with my baby project.

In the meantime, here is a tiny peek of why all of this will be worth the work – yarn, glorious yarn!

Here are two of the bases I have decided to stock. A gorgeous Bluefaced Leicester Superwash, which is so silky, luminous and soft that it is hard to believe it doesn’t contain silk!
And a BFL/Alpaca blend that is gentle and delicate in appearance and handle but actually held up amazingly to my brutal abrasion testing! Not such a fragile flower at all!
Hopefully a daily fondle of these lovelies will get me through the less joyous bits of the set up process and I will soon be through to the other side where I can just focus on the smell of sheepy goodness and COLOUR! I can’t wait!

Soggy recap

I have been wearing the hell out of my Dragonflies jumper since finishing it in March. This thing really has been worth its weight in gold as the weather has been freezing in the UK and it has been keeping me warm nearly daily.

We had an unusually bright day on Monday so I managed to get it photographed after giving it a good shave to make it look fresh again.
dragonflies_jumper_Kettle_Yarn_ Co
Unfortunately the weather turned back to cold and wet the next day so I haven’t been able to get some decent photos of my Silver Bells, which now is completely finished with shell buttons. The best I could do was this low light blurred mess below!

Let’s all pretend it is a ‘romantic shot’, k?  😉

Silver bells part III

Things are going slowly and somewhat painfully on both the sewing and knit fronts. I am still working on the fitting for my Sorbetto.


Though I think I may have finally cracked the right shaping for the centre back this morning. Fingers crossed this is the last tweak! The sewing is exhausting!

On the knit front, I have finally gotten one side of my Nightingale Vest front finished this weekend.
neck back

I have pretty well had to fudge the neckline and now have to immediately do the other side before I forget what I have done for the simultaneous arm and neck decreases! This is only my second time doing a v-neck, so feeling pretty nervous about it.

Think it looks about right, though I worry that I am missing something and won’t realise until I go to join front and back. I also noticed that the pattern doesn’t do any shaping for the back of the neck, which makes me a little paranoid. Shouldn’t there be short rows to shape the round at the back?

Hmmm. What do you guys think? Have you done any vests that were straight across the back neck?

I am champing at the bit to start a few more projects and have been planning and dyeing new yarn for the day I can cast on.

Oh. And frogging. This is what is left of my Schnabu.
habu n_80

I am stubbornly determined to find the perfect pattern for this yarn and think (hope) Organic by Ankestrick will be the one. Maybe next weekend I will get to find out…

Silver bells part II

After nearly 4 hours spent on a train Saturday merely travelling to and from Leytonstone in East London to Croydon in South London my little vest has grown and is now halfway to the armhole!
I have decided to make my Nightingale Vest one bell shorter and start the neckline V a bell later as per Strikkemus’ suggestions in her project notes (I agree that the proportions will be a bit cuter that way and that the neck looks a bit long as is).

This is the plan:
Starting the neck and arm decreases at the same time on row 8. I’d considered adding a bit of light waist shaping, but then realised I had already reached the waist at that point and it was too late. Hey ho.

Three glitches thus far, though live-able. Firstly, I got so engrossed in getting everything set up that I missed the first buttonhole, so have decided snaps it is! Second, I misread the set up instructions and added a crossed stitch right next to the last bell in the front panel so have this now:
Luckily it just makes the bell on that side roll a bit more prominently which then hides the extra crossed row, so it is ok. Phew.

The other glitch is a little less ok. I somehow threw in a K2tog instead of an SSK in the row leading to the next bell…in the very first row!! And didn’t realise until I was a few bells up. 😦
Peh. I am hoping to do a bit of duplicate stitch magic at the end and hope it works!

Silver bells

I have been a bit manic with projects and planning lately but couldn’t resist casting on for my Nightingale Vest (by Helga Isager) as it is the perfect weather for it right now – getting warmer but still pretty chill in the shade. A warm little vest would be perfect for throwing over a little dress! This is another pattern from The Bird Collection book.

I decided to start working through my stash which has been growing in leaps and bound as I test yarn bases for dyeing (it is a little frightening. But in a good way!). I decided to use the warm beige Phildar Preface (70 Wool/30 Nylon) I picked up on clearance in France last summer and am pairing it with some Alpaca 2ply lace that I dyed a lovely light cool silver (right);
By itself the Preface isn’t the nicest feeling yarn with all that nylon (very strong for socks, though!), but amazingly, when you add a strand of alpaca to it the resulting fabric is a beautiful silky/spongy  one with good body. As you can see below, the stitch definition is divine!
twisted stitch
It is really interesting how the two different coloured yarns work together for the bell stitch in the pattern. The way I have done the cast on for the bell stitches creates a silver stripe along the base of the bells.
I did end up charting the stitch pattern, just to see it visually, but it is very simple and common sense when you have run through it once.Very clever, this stitch. I love how sculptural the fabric is. So amazing and fun to knit.

Be forewarned, though, the pattern itself has a number of glitches – stitch miscounts and some omissions in the instructions, so you do have to keep your wits about you. I have read from the other projects that the arm hole decreases are funny as well, so am hoping it isn’t too bad!
But did I mention, pretty? Look at those little nubbies! So cute.