This lovely lady is not only one of my favourite designers for inspiration, but is also arguably one of the most gorgeous out there, which means everything she makes looks amazing on her. I made this version of her lovely Camden sweater in a frenetic week post-exams when I wanted to do something, anything with my brain other than memorise humanistic approaches to personality theory until my eyes bled (that was the previous week’s activity).

The yarn is Rowan Silk Wool DK in Clay, which I bought by the armful in the John Lewis January sale. I have a few balls of purple and green left over, and am still to put them to use. A two-tonal sweater? A couple of berets? A lace scarf? Who can say?

The original design had a high neck but I fancied branching out a bit and did a kind of hybrid notched/scooped v-neck. I think it works really well.

This is my first attempt at bobbles – I love them! So easy to work and a nice alternative to cables. I love Ashley’s modern design and the downward v-shaped design would be flattering on anyone. If I made this again I’d make it a little bigger – I knitted to a slightly tigher gauge than suggested. However, it will be blocked into submission until it’s long enough not to ride up.

This is a speedy knit by my standards – I started the back on 3rd January in New York, finished it by the time I hit UK soil, and wizzed through the front and yoke in a week.

Goodies from NYC

January 19, 2010

I went to New York recently. If you haven’t been, let me tell you now, it’s bloody brilliant.

I found this lovely yarn shop in SoHo (next to a shop that sold only fruit tarts – this is my dream street!)

And I bought this gorgeous fat merino – I have some preliminary ideas for its use, but none finalised. Oh, the possibilities…

Purple Haze pattern

January 18, 2010

This is a little purple bolero I designed  for myself that I’ve been wearing all winter. It’s pretty much free sized, with three sizes as a rough guide. It should fit UK sizes 8-14 (approx 32-28 inch bust). The trick is to adjust the shoulder width to suit your body shape when sewing the sleeve seams. I did this by tacking the sleeves into place with thread and then trying on the finshed item to see how it fitted across my shoulders.

Pattern available here – Purple Haze

Any issues, let me know and I’ll try and help 🙂

This is a very simple structure which requires very little shaping and is super warm under a jacket.It’s an ideal first project after you’ve done the whole endless scarf thing (or if you just fancy some mindless woolly gratification).

Dahlia modifications

January 14, 2010

If you spot any glaring errors, feel free to ask/correct/chastise me!

This is my version of Mary Weaver’s lovely ‘Dahlia’ which I fiddled with a bit to make it suit me better. Several people have asked me to post the modifications I made, so here we go!

for reference, I made size xs as I wanted negative ease (I am a UK 10 to 12/34″bust)- if you want a similar look you might want to consider picking a size or so smaller than you usually would. The length is adjustable, so pick the bodice size that approximates the kind of look you want (skin-tight, roomier, etc) If you are quite well endowed you could pick a larger bodice size and then do some decreasing where the pattern suggests skirt increases in order to get a nicely fitted waist

Mary’s model for this pattern is a willowy and beautiful girl who looks great in the original loose-fitting, low necked design. As my proportions are more Betty Boop on a bad day, I changed the neckline, the bodice length, and the shape of the cabled ‘skirt’ thus:

For the neckline:

The neckline was too low for my liking so I picked up the neckline stitches after finishing and knitted a picot edge, creating a slightly gathered affect which moved the neckline up to a wearable level. You could also try, as I did,  leaving out all or some of the final set of rows 1-6 repeats, and instead incorporating the increases needed into the previous rows 1-6 repeats. I should stress that this was somewhat trial and error – I can’t recall exactly where I placed my increases as this was made a while ago when I was far too busy getting drunk and failing to attend lectures at uni to do anything as sensible as make pattern notes 😉

So, a rough guide would be to work as set in original pattern until the final repeat for your size of the increase rows 1-6, then:

Row 1(WS): purl, as in original pattern.

Row 2 (RS): k1, m2, [k to marker, RLI, slip marker, LLI] 4 times, m2, k1. (12 stitches increased)

Row 3(WS): p1, m2, [p to marker, RLI, slip marker, LLI] 4 times, m2, p1. (12 sts increased)

Row 4 (RS): Knit as row 2 in original pattern, so – [k to marker, RLI, slip marker, LLI] 4 times. (8 sts increased).

Row 5 (WS): Knit as row 6 in original pattern, so – k1, m1, [k to marker, RLI, slip marker, LLI,] 4 times, m1, k1. (10 sts increased)

Row 6 (RS): Knit as set in original pattern. (10 sts increased).

You have now increased 52 stitches in total over these 6 rows (instead of the standard 26 per repeat of rows 1-6, as set in the pattern), giving you the required number for beginning the skirt. In the case of size xs, I increased from 91st to 221 sts in total.

For the bodice:

I only worked 4 inches from underarm, instead of the recommended 4-7. For reference, the sample in the original pattern measures 5.5 inches from underarm to beginning of cabled skirt. It’s easy to try as you work and adapt it to your own body proportions.

For the skirt:

I did no increases at all as I wanted a skin-tight fit. If you want a little more ease at the hips while keeping the nipped-in waist, you could work the cable pattern without increases (as it is worked over an even number of stitches, which you will already have without increasing) until you get to the desired level at the top of your hip (probably around 5-7 inches depending on your body length) and then do your final inches as set out in the pattern, working increases into the cables over 5 rows as stated in the pattern.

I hope this helps – feel free to contact me if it doesn’t and I will do my best to assist.


My beloved Owls

January 13, 2010

This is Kate Davies’ wonderful, gorgeous Owls sweater, which has been knitted the world over. See her website for a selection of lovely owls from all over the world.

I had a problem with the back of the pattern – the shaping, although beautiful and unique,  just didn’t quite work out for me so I had to do a bit of tweaking. However, I’m thrilled with the result and have been getting lots of compliments.

I have to say that it’s a delight to come across a pattern so well-written – kudos to Kate for that, who manages to make an enjoyable and straightforward read out of what could potentially be some fairly daunting cables in the wrong hands.I’d even consider recommending this as a first (or maybe second) sweater to people I’ve taught to knit.

It knits up so fast and yet is interesting enough to keep the more experienced knitter happily occupied. It has beautiful neckline shaping which flatters without being too revealing or too frumpy. And last of all, it is knitted in the round, which for someone as lazy and unmotivated as me is always a plus point.

I do wonder why I enjoy circular knitting so much – it must be partly due to finishing ease and being able to try as you go, but it’s also something to do with the look of wonder on (non-knitting) people’s faces when they see you using double pointed needles in public. It does look much harder than it is, which makes me feel clever for about ten seconds before I own up and explain to them that, actually, it’s not that hard.

Knitting as a conversation starter is top-notch. Start knitting on a train and sooner or later someone will ask you what you’re doing, regale you with tales of their grandma knitting during the war, or, best of all, reveal themselves as a fellow knitter, in which case you can spend the rest of the journey happily engaged in debates about DPs versus one long circular for socks, the perils of blocking, and other nerdish pleasures which are easy to join in online but so hard to find in real life.

Baby Feet

January 4, 2010

These are the cutest things ever, and one of my all-time favourites to knit. They take about an hour and use next to no yarn, so cashmere is a distinct possibility rather than a distant dream.

This purple pair was made in October 2009 for my friend’s baby girl, who is due, well, right now. I’m looking forward to seeing her wearing them.

The cute ruby slippers below were made in a succession of Manhattan coffee shops as a gift for my boyfriend’s cousin, who is expecting in February.

Dave

January 1, 2010

This little dragon is a version of Kate Kuckro’s Norberta. Unlike Norberta, Dave has a stumpy tail and no wings. He is also blessed with the most daft expression ever to grace a dragon’s face, thanks to my hasty button-sewing.

It's not easy being green. And orange.

I intended to change him, but his owner took one look at him and it was love at first sight, googly eyes and all, and any changes I offered were refused. So, Dave has been allowed to carry on much as I made him, and is currently residing in Edinburgh where he shares living space with a Vietnamese toy pig named Bertie and a knitted diplodocus named Eric.

Due to recent cold weather across Britain, Dave now has a tiny purple scarf to keep him warm.

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