February 09, 2016 by Sarah

The new year seems like a time when knitting needles are particularly busy. It could be the cold weather, frantically trying to finish off gifts, or in my case, gleefully working on those projects I've been dreaming about for weeks, usually knits for me. It might commonly referred to as 'selfish knitting' but I prefer to think of it gift knitting for myself, or Maud-Bailey (from one of the projects below) calls it 'gifts for winter.' Knitting something for yourself isn't selfish, its awesome! The projects this week were all cast on just after or on the holidays, and were made for the very person doing the making!

Every day I see a new Strokkur colour palette that makes me want to cast on another one! This gift for winter was made my Maud-Bailey, and its one of my new favourites.

These fantastic Hugni socks were made by Sylviemom - I love the bright contrast with the natural main colour.

A lovely squishy Sulionen, knit and worn by sokkenmuis - great if you need something for yourself, quickly!

It's great to see people making Knitworthy patterns for themselves! This lovely Saudade was made for and knit by bevans59 with Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails. It's the perfect project for little amounts of yarn.

And finally, another awesome Strokkur - this one knit by a very cosy-looking kidsgloves!

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February 02, 2016 by Sarah

Here in Scotland its pretty cold, damp and dreich but the days are starting to get longer so spring does seem like its on the way, even if it seems far off. It can't be surprising that bright and cheery projects keep catching my eye so for this week I thought I'd share some knitted sunshine. It's a reminder that I should plan some gorgeous yellow projects to knit next winter!

Using the Arisaig pattern to create a short sleeved, cropped cardigan is such a great idea. Perfect for covering your shoulders during warmer evenings, and vintagenettles as written lots of helpful notes on making her fantastic version in case you're inspired to try the same!

There's so much to love about this stunning Laika, knit by cherieasaurus. Turning the cardigan design into a pullover is a great idea, and that colour would make anyone smile...

A bright and sunny shawl is a great way to brighten up dreary days, and something I've realised is missing from my own wardrobe! This lovely Ishbel was knit by unraveling.

Some of you might recognise this knitter as Tasia of Sewaholic, and this gorgeous Lauriel that she knit in Madelinetosh tosk dk. I love the details and ribbon behind the buttonbands, and there are some helpful tips on her project page here.

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January 26, 2016 by Sarah

Stripes are awesome. Whether its an intentional part of a design or a sneaky fix if you run out of yarn, there are endless possibilities to use them in your knitting. A blog post with our favourite projects using stripes could have been a very, very long one, so for today I've just picked a few.

Copyright: Chris Scott

Copyright: Chris Scott

This lovely sweater is one of those projects that shows exactly what the Blank Canvas design is perfect for — using it as a starting point to create something really unique. The way the stripes have been worked by sharondoubleknit are so effective. I'd love this in my wardrobe!

Adding a stripey sweater to Elijah is a really popular mod, and when it makes a little elephant this cute its easy to understand why! This little Elijah was knit by Emily Medley.

This amazing Blank Canvas was a fun project to watch take shape on instagram. And the finished sweater is just as fun, and beautiful! cleverknits worked it up as a sample in some of her own yarn, and you can read more about it on her blog.

Estella is one of my favourite hat designs, it has the perfect amount of slouch! This lovely version was knit by chantelaine, and it looks like her dog approves...

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January 21, 2016 by Ysolda Teague

Over Christmas and New Year I took some time off and didn't want to work on calculating a new pattern, but I did want to knit, so I started a second Cruden. I got most of the knitting done during my break but it's been sitting in a corner waiting for the attention that steek finishing requires for a few weeks. Even though I love seaming most of my garment patterns are seamless — it's just so hard for me to get around to the finishing! 

Before the steeks are cut open the vest is a rather odd shape and it can be hard to visualise how everything will fit together. 

The extended fronts allow the pattern repeat to be completed and the shoulders to be joined on a single colour row. No one wants to kitchener stitch in two colours if they don't have to. I usually wear vests with a collared shirt, which can be uncomfortable if the back neck is too high and bunches up beneath the collar. This construction is a really simple way to drop the back neck below the centre line of the shoulder without purled colourwork rows or short row shaping. I find the colourwork is malleable enough that the back neck is sufficiently curved without decreases. 

Set-up

There are several different steeking methods, combining different set-ups during the knitting with different finishing techniques. They all create a bridge of extra yarn between the separate areas of the garment, either by working extra stitches or wrapping the yarn around the needle. In a garment like Cruden where the steeks begin part way up the garment stitches are bound off for the base of the opening and, on the following round, the bridge is added in. 

On Cruden that bridge is (mostly) 5 stitches wide. I find that gives plenty of security when picking up stitches for the neck and armhole bands without adding too much bulk. Knitted steeks can be worked in any pattern that alternates both colours on patterned rounds and colour transitions should be kept away from the centre of the steek. 

I like working the steek in vertical stripes because they make it really clear where to crochet and where to cut. 

In a sticky yarn like this Jamieson and Smith Shetland it is absolutely possible to just cut the steek open. If you're especially daring or plan to cover the raw, turned under, edge with a ribbon or facing you can go ahead and just cut up the centre of the stitch in the middle of the steek. Personally, I like the finished edge and extra peace of mind that securing the ends with crochet before cutting gives. 

If your yarn is superwash, a plant fibre, or otherwise likely to slip out of crochet your best option is a (machine or hand) sewn steek which is usually worked on an even number of stitches. 

Weave in all the ends except the tails attached to the still live stitches before beginning. Weave them in away from the steek stitches. 

It can be helpful to think of the steek stitches numbered like this. The crochet will join each leg of stitch 3 to the stitches on either side of it — 2 and 4. Beginning at the bottom a row of slip stitch crochet will be worked to join 3 and 4 before turning the work and crocheting a second row back down to join 3 and 2. 

 

Crochet

If you aren't familiar with crochet you might want to practise making a simple chain to get comfortable handling the hook and yarn before beginning. 

Hook and yarn

Any hook size that is easy to insert under the stitches and pull yarn through should work but I usually start with a size smaller than the needle size I used for the knitting. If you have access to different hook shapes the pointier style is definitely easier. 

For fingering / 4ply / jumper weight projects leftover yarn from the project should be fine but for a chunkier project you can use a lighter weight yarn for the crochet to reduce bulk. Either way you want a nice grabby wool here too. You might just be able to make out that I did the first steek in one of the dominant pattern colours and then switched to the orange so you could see them better. For your first steek choosing a contrasting colour makes the cutting easier — the riskiest part is accidentally cutting the crochet stitches. 

With the work turned so the top of the garment is to the left (or the right if you crochet from left to right) insert the hook through the centre of stitch 4 and back up through the centre of stitch 3. Wrap the yarn and draw it through both loops. Insert the hook under the same two legs on the row above, wrap the yarn and draw through all 3 loops on the hook. I do this in two motions, first through the legs and then through the previous crochet stitch. Continue in this way until you reach the bound off stitches at the top. 

Break the yarn, leaving a tail to weave in, and draw through the last stitch on the hook. Pull up tightly to fasten off. 

Here's a quick video so you can see how I work the crochet in action:

For the second column rotate the work so the top is at the right. Join the other leg of the stitch you just crocheted into (stitch 3) to the stitch that's now below it (stitch 2). 

When you're done the crochet will form a ridge with each row of crochet stitches leaning away from the centre. Repeat for the other steeks. 

The joined front steeks on Cruden

Where the two front armholes come together after the back is finished on Cruden they form a 6 stitch wide steek made up of 3 stitches from each side. The crochet is worked in a continuous line up the same stitches. 

This means that the two rows of crochet are worked into adjacent stitches, rather than a single centre stitch. You can see why I switched to the orange — you can barely see that there's a row of brown crochet on the right. 

The fun part — cutting

Take a deep breath (or a nip of whiskey!) and spread the rows of crochet apart. You'll see a ladder of the centre stitch yarn and the stranding behind it. 

With the smallest, sharpest scissors you can find carefully cut through this ladder between the two rows of crochet. 

I cut one of the steeks live on Periscope — watch the replay below (skip forward a bit to avoid the initial chat as I awkwardly welcome people to the stream). 

Slip stitch or single (UK double) crochet? 

Single crochet can make it easier to see where to cut because the crochet is more prominent. The downside is that it makes for a bulkier finished edge. It's entirely up to you which you prefer. 

Ready to earn your steeking badge? It's really not that scary, I promise, and there's no more badass knitting skill!

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January 19, 2016 by Sarah

Little Birds from Twist Collective is one of Ysolda's patterns that's most often modified, with some amazing results. Knitters experiment with colour, style and fit and they're all inspiring, but it's the projects where the pattern has been used to create something for a child that I love the most. The birds are also the perfect little colourwork motif to incorporate into other patterns, or use as the basis for something completely new.

These three gorgeous knits were made by undone57. It's amazing how a couple of little motifs can produce such different, but awesome garments. Her project pages have some great notes - top, bottom left and bottom right.

Say hello to sidecarJo's smiley boy! Hopefully that smile has a lot to do with his awesome vest. It was knit some time ago, but she recently updated her project page to say that 'it was worn a LOT, and has since been passed onto 3 more small people who have an eye for fashion.'

Another lovely vest, this time knit by annahatt. Anna's project page has some very detailed notes on exactly how it was made in case you'd like to do the same, and she's included information on gauge so it should be fairly easy to resize. Thanks Anna!

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January 12, 2016 by Sarah

As soon as the calendar turns to January I reach for blankets. Scotland can be pretty damp, cold, and grey so staying cosy becomes the top priority! The Hap Blanket is one of Ysolda's patterns that I've actually not made yet, but I plan to change that before spring arrives. There are some truly beautiful variations, so plenty of inspiration if you're tempted to do the same.

The colours of this blanket by Butterfly Brain make me so happy! It shows how lovely it is too with a solid centre.

Mcarrel's gorgeous version was made as a baby blanket, with perfect bright colours for a new little one.

This two colour version with a solid centre by earthchick is one of my favourites...and would look perfect in my livingroom in case she wants to rehome it(!)

The combination of green and pink in nelago's Hap Blanket is incredible. I love the way she's incorporated a gradient in the pink, it makes for such a striking edging!




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