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First Things First – Uskglass October 17, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Patterns.
1 comment so far

This is one of the big things I missed out on telling you about in the last few months – in August, I published Uskglass.

Do you remember the green sample hat I christened ‘Strange’? It got a makeover, and I love it very much. It amuses me that I ended up in Edinburgh, actually, because the first sample for Uskglass was knitted the first time I ever came here, and I remember adoring the place and being really worried that I wouldn’t be able to come back. And then, it was published from the Starbucks on the High Street while I was up for the Fringe, and now I’m living here properly. I feel like Uskglass was lucky for me.

It was originally designed around the book Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is one of my favourites, but quite sensibly my tech editor pointed out that calling a hat ‘Strange’ when it wasn’t in the least bit strange was bound to give the wrong impression, so it got renamed after John Uskglass, the Raven King from the book, the most powerful English magician possibly ever to have lived, and who had a strong connection with Britain and its history.  I like to think that that’s fitting – the cables from Uskglass were inspired a bit by traditional ganseys.  The honeycomb band, particularly.

I’m a bit in love with slightly slouchy hats with a deep brim at the moment.  There’s at least one more on the way.  Watch this space.

And can I talk about the yarn for a moment?  It’s grey.  For a change.  I really need to knit something that isn’t grey, it has turned into my default colour.  It’s also Rowan British Sheep Breeds DK, and it’s Bluefaced Leicester.  The more BFL I get to play with, the more I like it.  It’s so shiny.  It smells so sheepy.  It barely pills at all, and it appears to be the warmest thing in the world.  If I could afford a jumper’s worth of Rowan, I’d be knitting one right now – it’s so much fun to knit with.  As it is, I’ve worn this hat about four days a week for the last month (‘warm’ is relative, I think – I know we’re supposed to have had a heatwave!) and I think the combination of the yarn and the cables make it the warmest piece of headgear I own.

So yeah.  New knitwear.  Three sizes.  I love it.  Say it’s not just me?

Uskglass, £3.00

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Academia July 5, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Durham, Knitting, Look what I did, Patterns, Sheer bloody-mindedness, University.
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It seems fitting that, now that I’ve left Durham altogether – and that they’ve moved the law library to a totally different site to where it used to be – that I should finally be publishing a pattern inspired by weeks and weeks sat in that very library.

I actually had the idea for this cardigan in a café in Lancaster last summer.  I was sat there for a few hours with not a lot to do but read, knit and let my coffee get cold – the best kind of afternoon.  A girl opposite me was wearing a cardigan with a similar sort of back detail and I wondered how one might go about knitting something like that.

It came to me not all that long afterwards, and I knitted up a prototype which is notable only in the fact that it is made of blue Wollmeise, which was lovely, but other than that was totally hideous.  It didn’t fit.  I couldn’t fit my arms into the sleeves.  Everything about it was too tight, or bulged, or drooped, and it had buttons which were far too heavy for it.  Anyway, I thought I could do without buttons.  I’m not surprised it ended up like this – I had knitted a grand total of most of one cardigan in my entire life by that point, and had really no idea what I was doing.  It was a bit of a learning curve.

This year, I have become a far better knitter.  I’ve met the concepts of ease, and drape, and what might actually look any good, and I’m so proud of what this has turned into.  I named it Academia, after something else that it has taken a lot of effort and trial and error to get the hang of, that I’ve spent a lot of time at, and that quite frankly I love to bits.  This sample was knitted mostly over the second term of this year: cast on in the green room of the Gala theatre before the matinee of The Producers, knitted on during my high points and my low points and as a bit of a distraction from work – and, yes, in the law library.  It was finished within about two days of my dissertation, and I love it and wear it often.

The thing I’m most proud of about it is that my test knitters also loved knitting it, and that it looks fantastic on all of them.  If you’re on Ravelry, you can see their cardigans here, and I’m so pleased that it seems to fit different body shapes and sizes so well.  Several of them are already knitting a second one in different yarn, or intend to do so.  And, of course, the banter was the best of any test-knitting group I’ve come across so far.  I fell on my feet with that one.

Oh, and one more thing – remember August of last year, when I said that the thing I aspired to most in the field of knitting was to design my own cardigan?  So do I.  Just goes to show, doesn’t it, that it’s really not all that complicated when you put your mind to it, and that it’s just a case of having your idea and going at it like you think it’s important.

If you can knit in the round, and do left- and right- slanting decreases (which if you knit I bet you can), then you can knit this with no difficulty at all.  The pattern on the back makes it go faster, too – and it really is ridiculously simple to do.  Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s short rows, they’re laughably simple and you’ll have them down to a fine art in an inch or two.

There’s a fair bit of I-cord, but I swear that’s it.  And besides, I don’t know about you, but I think I-cord looks rather good.

You can get the pattern for Academia here, for the princely sum of £3.25.

Morstan again February 14, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Lovely people, Patterns.
2 comments

First of all, happy V-day everyone, and I hope you are all good-naturedly but mutinously muttering under your breath in the same way as I am about how it’s all commercialised and you don’t believe in it anyway.  His nibs has come up to stay with me til Friday, so if it’s all a bit quiet on the Western Front over here, that’d be why.

Anyway, it’s also February, and that means that new Knitcircus is out.  I highly recommend going and having a look at it.  It also means, though, that I’ve been able to release my Morstan mittens pattern through Ravelry and this blog.

We went out and took lots of photos outside the cathedral today, even though it was absolutely freezing out – thanks to his nibs for taking all the photos, and to my lovely model Alice for being so obliging.  Also thanks to Sarah, Hayleigh, and Fearn for their general loitering and encouragement – it’s always far more fun to be doing silly things in a public place when there are more of you.

Lacy mittens still make me happy, and I think that shall be so for quite some time.

You can get the pattern now for £2.50 and frankly, if the weather where you are is anything like the weather where I am right now, I think that’s a rather good idea.

Meanwhile, the lace advances…

Morstan Mittens November 10, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Breaking the fourth wall, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Lovely people, Patterns, Really good day.
2 comments

Named after Mary Morstan, the most well-gloved of Victorian ladies, and, if you like, the sidekick’s sidekick.  She was Dr Watson’s wife in the Sherlock Holmes stories.  Importantly, she was the inspiration for these:

They were published today in Winter Knitcircus – alongside quite a lot of very beautiful things that I am absolutely in awe of being associated with.  I highly recommend having a flick through.

They also come fingerless:

I’m so unbelievably chuffed with them – ever since the samples came back I’ve been wearing them non-stop.  I adore Manos Silk Blend (the green yarn in the fingerless mitts) and I’d love to design with it again.  The Ethical Twist from the mittens might be familiar to you as well – I used it in my Garden Cardigan over the summer, and the mittens are just as warm and snuggly as the cardigan is.  I’m wearing the cardigan a lot these days, too.

You can buy the pattern from Knitcircus magazine directly – either singly or with the whole Winter pattern collection.  So many pretty things.  Squee.

Morstan mittens on Ravelry:

All photos courtesy of Knitcircus.

Did somebody mention a hat? August 4, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Patterns.
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3 comments

I am proud, honoured and delighted to introduce the November beret.  It was published about fifteen minutes ago, and it looks like this:

(Ably modelled by the excellent Miss Lawrence.)

It’s been a few months in the making, and far more complicated to work on than the fingerless gloves were, mainly because of my insistence on having charts that look professional.  I cannot abide sloppy charts, and I absolutely shall not be responsible for them.

The result, however, is a hat that’s really, really good fun to knit.  I’ve made it twice, and will probably make it again, which should tell you something right from the off because I never do that.  My testers – who, by the way, have been to a man absolutely fantastic – also said they really enjoyed knitting it.

I could not be happier with it, essentially.  It’s squishy, and slouchy, and surprisingly easy and therapeutic once you’ve knitted a few rows.  Also, it goes really quickly, which to me is always the sign of a good pattern.

Even if it is August, and entirely the wrong time of year for hats.  I can’t wait for the nights to draw in so I can wear it properly.

Introducing Luce May 21, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Lovely people, Patterns, Really good day.
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8 comments

Well, I don’t have any more exams until Wednesday, so I thought it was right about time to share this with you.  I couldn’t be more excited, honestly.  I’ve been waving these under people’s noses for weeks, and bragging about them for longer.  My housemates are sick of hearing about them, as, I imagine, are my immediate family.

This is Luce.  Fingerless gloves, knitted in the round from the elbow up, because nothing says maverick decadence like fishnet lace opera gloves, right?  They’re named after the very lovely Lucy because if Lucy wore knitwear, I’d like to think a) it’d be like this, and b) I’d have knitted it.  And she’s off the wall, and clever, and unselfconscious, and a little bit chaotically elegant – and I like to think that Luce is a little bit of all that, too.

It turns out, in fact, that I like knitting.  A lot.  So when I design something of my own, it tends to have a lot of Things in it: slightly unusual picot cast on, twisted rib, lace, cables… I thought while I was knitting it that it was fairly simple, and so it is to knit, but I’ve learned so much about writing up patterns for other people’s benefit from this that it’s been really exciting.  Knitters, do you remember the first time you turned a heel, and suddenly it was deconstructed into gusset and cup and flap, and suddenly it all made sense in a completely different way to before?  Well this was kind of like that.  Very interesting to write, and I hope interesting to knit.  It’s also, on the subject of knitting it, very quick: my test-knitters tell me that you can finish a pair in twelve hours with very little difficulty, and they don’t even need to be blocked, so if you have a short attention span then you may well love them.

These have been such a learning curve for me.  I’ve learned the gentle art of writing things up, of sizing, of messing around with PDF files, of test-knitting and tech-editing (with a lot of help along the way – thanks to all concerned!).  I’ve actually, deliberately taken photos of myself, and enlisted other people to join in, which is something of a milestone to me – so thanks are also due to Fesoes and Roomie for their support, encouragement, and camera skills.

(Someone tell her she takes a good photo – she won’t believe us!)

You can download Luce from my patterns page here, or from Ravelry here.  Oh yeah.  Did I mention it’s free?