November is here, it must be time for the GiftALong again! Back for its seventh year, the Ravelry Indie Design GiftALong is a series of make-alongs, chatter, and prizes, to get you ready for the holidays. I'm taking part as a designer for the sixth time. The Giftalong starts tomorrow (November 26th) but the fun has started already so if you want to join in, you can find the Ravelry group here!
The use of this stitch pattern for socks was somewhat serendipitous. The lace pattern is another of my original ones, designed using the letters of the word Power, but it was designed the other way up. It was only once I had knitted up a swatch that I realised that, if I turned it upside down, the motifs came together to form little heart shapes. They look so cute on socks.
The design uses the Strong heel again. It's a short row heel which I find a really good fit and it isn't difficult or fiddly to work. I've used it on other socks and really like it.
Time marches on apace. I can't believe it's April already, where is this year going?!
Anyway, after a slow start to the year, I've just (literally, just clicked the "activate" button on Ravelry) launched the third pattern in my Affirmation collection. Believe and Focus joins her sisters, Achievement (top) and Strong (middle) as the third in my collection of patterns based on positive words.
The Believe and Focus shawlette is a variation on a triangular shawl, with a wide central spine that helps it to stay on the shoulders. The two lace patterns are both original, and included in the pattern in both charted and written form so you can choose your preference.
Believe and Focus is my favourite of the three, but I still think the best is to come. I do like a lace shawl and there's a great one included in this collection.
There's also a pair of socks. I haven't designed socks for a while but the pattern on these seemed to cry out to be socks, and they suit the red yarn I used so well. I've just opened a test knit in my Ravelry group for them and the pattern should be available next month.
Well, the 2018 Gift-along is in full swing over on Ravelry. It's the sixth annual event, and my fifth time as a participating designer (and crafter too, I can't resist!).
I'm currently working on Filoplume by Bex Hopkins, and I'm about a third of the way through this scarf. So far so good!
I also just launched my last pattern for 2018. Inspired by the basalt columns of the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland, Causeway Road is a unisex hat pattern sized from Toddler right up to Large Adult, but the stretchy ribbed fabric is pretty forgiving size-wise if you're not sure what size to make it as a gift.
This one will be going to my father-in-law, if my husband or son don't claim it first! I've also made myself one in multicoloured handspun yarn but since that's predominantly pink I think it's safe from the male members of the household!
The inspiration for my latest pattern launch Leylandii mitts and cowl was the yarn itself. I had won two balls of Valley Yarns Bromley in a competition a while ago and it had sat in my stash while I waited for it to tell me what it wanted to become. I hadn't knitted with cashmere yarn before and wasn't sure what to do with it, and such a small quantity needed to be something little but special.
Finally the colour of the yarn pointed me towards something with an evergreens theme. The diamonds pattern on the back of the mitts is inspired by the shape of evergreen trees, and the lace pattern on the cowl reminded me of the same. You can make the mitts from one ball of Valley Bromley and the cowl from a second. Soft, warm, a real treat. I hope you enjoy them!
I'm currently working on a pattern collection of five pieces. The samples for three of them are complete, as you can see, and the fourth is on the needles. The collection is called the Affirmation collection and it's been a while in the making, mainly because of the size of that enormous blue shawl you see in the photograph, but also because I've really designed these right from the ground up.
The five pieces are a crescent scarf, a shawlette, socks, a hat and a circular shawl, and the lace designs (and colourwork for the hat) have all been designed by me too. The circular shawl idea came first, when I was going through a lot of work stress earlier in the year. I've posted before about being made redundant in the spring of this year and how it really hit me hard in terms of my self-esteem. One self-care idea that came out of that time was the idea of a large shawl of positivity that I could wrap myself up in and remind myself that I am still a good person even if my employer didn't need me any more. I had been reading articles online about designing lace stitch patterns based on motifs and based on words, and started drawing up some patterns based on as many positive and affirming words as I could think of. Four of them have become the circular shawl. One suggested itself to me as an edging rather than the body of a shawl so that has become a crescent shawl. Another told me it wanted to be socks. The shawlette, which is pretty much Faroese shaped, uses two different lace patterns from the group I designed. I wanted to include a hat but didn't want to make it a lacy one, and then I wondered if I could convert one of my uplifting words into a colourwork pattern instead of a lace pattern. The second version I tried looked like it would be great as the band of a tam, so that is what it is going to be!
The crescent scarf is currently in the test-knitting stage. The rest of the patterns will follow shortly and the entire collection should be published late this year (or possibly early next) as the Affirmation collection as an e-book and as individual patterns. I'll keep you posted!
Finally I have launched this pattern! No real reason for the delay, other than life getting in the way. This shawl was designed to use some handspun yarn of mine.
This was some of my earliest handspun lace weight, spun from two different braids of Corriedale fibre, one solid royal blue and the other a variegated blue-green. Plying them together resulted in a marled yarn with a gorgeous colour shift through the blues and greens, pretty but difficult to work with without having the colour changes fight with the pattern.
The design needed to be something relatively plain, to allow the yarn to be centre-stage. With around 850 yards, I had enough for a good size shawl but a complicated lace design would have been completely lost. Sea Shift is almost completely stocking stitch which showcases the colour changes of the yarn, with varying eyelet rows to produce the Pi increases that form the semi-circular shape. Towards the outer edge, a section of mesh and garter stitch finish the shawl.
As with all my designs, the pattern is available in my Ravelry store, and you can buy the PDF pattern download by clicking here or on any of the photos.
It would appear I have designed another cowl pattern! I have been playing about with different constructions recently, and the idea for this one came to me while running. I seem to get a lot of design ideas while running, which is great because it means I've got time to think about them, but no so good because I have to remember all the details as I can't write them down!
This one came about because I had some gorgeous handspun yarn, made from Polwarth fibre, which I had spun to keep the colour progression through shades of grey, green and blue.
It's so soft I wanted to knit it into something I could wear against my skin, and I also wanted a design that would keep that beautiful colour fade without fighting with a stitch pattern. Stocking stitch seemed ideal, but I didn't want a plain round-and-round cowl, and there are enough simple scarf patterns already, so what to do.
Then I had the idea of making a cowl but making it from a triangular scarf. I could visualise pulling the ends of a triangular scarf around so that they joined, and then knitting to "fill in the gap" as it were to make a continuous loop. I just couldn't immediately see how to actually do it. And of course a cowl doesn't need to be as tall as its circumference, unless you're knitting it for a giraffe!
A bit of maths and some sketches later, I came up with the stocking stitch version and set about knitting it with my handspun.
It really is so soft, and it was just what I wanted to do with the yarn.
Then I had the mad idea of trying to make it again, but in garter stitch. Easy enough, except for the one round in the whole thing, because I suddenly had an extra right side row to deal with which threw off the garter stitch. It hadn't affected the stocking stitch because you're always knitting the right side and purling the wrong side but there aren't any purl rows in garter stitch.
I was actually on a train when it got to that stage of the garter stitch sample, and I found myself having to write down exactly what I was doing so I could get it properly written up once I reached my destination. I'm glad the train wasn't busy - goodness knows what my fellow passengers thought I was up to - but my knitting engineering worked, and the garter stitch version came to fruition too.
As for the name, one of my favourite book ideas as a child were Mr Wonka's Square Sweets That Look Round in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The sweets are little cubes with faces on them, and Mr Wonka proudly shows them off to his visitors who all insist that the sweets do not look round. They most definitely look square. After much insistence, and much rejection of the notion by the visitors, Mr Wonka throws open the door of the room and all the square sweets on the table turn their eyes towards the door to see who is entering. Mr Wonka proudly declares that the sweets do indeed look round! Since this cowl is worked almost completely flat, except for one joining round, it is arguably a flat cowl. It just looks like it was worked in the round.
You can find the pattern here in my Ravelry store, or click through the photograph at the top!
I like to knit lace. I will happily knit lace scarves, cowl, socks, but my favourites are shawls, especially large and challenging ones. I’ve designed a fair few now, using stitch patterns from various stitch dictionaries, books and online resources, and I decided I wanted to try designing my own for truly original shawls.
I read a few tutorials and blog posts online which suggested different methods of designing lace and then off I went. Some don't get beyond a scribble on graph paper. The ones that look good on paper get swatched. If the swatch doesn't work, no big deal, it gets frogged. But I was building up a collection of swatches that I liked.
For the Christmas before last I was given a knitting journal but had no idea how to use it since I record all my projects on Ravelry. Then I realised the book was the perfect place to store my swatches. It is laid out with four pages for each project, with space to write about your design inspiration, graph paper for drawing up charts, and even holes punched to attach a small amount of yarn. Perfect for tying my swatches in.
Now I can build up my own personal stitch dictionary!
My current design-in-progress is a circular shawl using four of my original lace patterns, all designed on a theme. I already have ideas for at least two of the others. Now I just need to find the time to use them all!
Things have been a bit slow here at Scarlett17Knits Towers (not my real address!) lately. Long story short, I was made redundant from my day job last month. Anyone who has been through a redundancy knows it can be an emotional process, even if you're expecting it. I wasn't expecting it which made it even more of a blow to lose a job I loved. I'm also someone who has always defined myself and my sense of purpose through my work. Without my job, suddenly I wasn't sure who I was any more. OK, I'm also Mummy, wife, knitter, designer, friend, daughter, but I didn't have "wage-earner" or "professional" high up on that list any more.
It completely knocked my creativity too. For about a week I didn't even want to knit (and that's how I know things must be bad!) or to spin. All my design ideas suddenly seemed pointless, not worth pursuing, or too hard work to get my brain around.
For now, I have decided to go freelance while I work out the next step on my career path and have signed up with an agency and, thankfully, have already started getting work (slowly, but everyone's got to start somewhere) which has massively helped my sense of professional self-esteem. I had two designs that were almost-ready which I had pushed aside when everything started falling apart at work, but which I now feel ready to pick up again. I've had them both tech edited already and will be looking for testers before the end of the week. I've also had my confidence boosted by the success so far of this month's pattern release (Shetland Marine, if you missed it), and by a weekend away with knitting friends that completely recharged my batteries.
I'm working on a new sock design, and I've also made good progress on a circular lace shawl design, as well as casting on my first socks from handspun sock yarn!
I might have had a setback but I'm down but not out. Onwards and upwards, right?!
I love to knit, to design patterns and to talk about knitting!