Simple Linen Stitch Cowl

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been cataloguing my yarn stash and came across some hidden gems of yarns purchased long ago and with no plan for their use, and I decided to design a simple cowl that would use them up. This pattern is part of my Love Your Stash Challenge for 2019, in which I aim to use yarn from stash for a series of simple accessories.

The yarns are Louisa Harding Grace Hand-Dyed, a DK weight yarn, in two colours. I have two skeins each of Coastal, a gorgeous bright turquoise, and Festive, a rich purple. Both yarns are tonal, and provide a total of 404 metres (440 yards), which is more than enough for a good sized cowl; in fact, I only needed one skein of each for the cowl, using virtually every scrap, so the rest will make a matching hat.

For this cowl you will need:

101 metres (110 yards) of DK weight yarn in colour1 and 101 metres (110 yards) of DK weight yarn in colour2

4 mm (UK/Can size 8, US size 6) circular needle, at least 40cm long (as long as you like if using magic loop)

5 mm (UK/Canadian size 6, US size 8) circular needle, at least 40cm long (as long as you like if using magic loop)

A stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round

A tapestry needle to weave in the yarn ends

The PDF version of the pattern can be downloaded from my Ravelry Pattern Store. Have a look through your stash, gather your tools together, and happy knitting!

Three-Needle Bind Off

Three-needle bind off is a very useful technique for joining two pieces of fabric. It can be used to create a firm shoulder seam on a sweater, to close the toe of a cuff-down sock (if you don’t want to use Kitchener stitch), or to complete a folded cuff or hem.

It is important not to stretch or pull the stitches too much, and to this end I am using 3 different sizes of needle: the inner cuff has been knit on a 3mm circular needle (brass); the purl bumps are picked up on a 2mm circular needle (dark wood); and the casting/binding off is performed with a 3.75mm double-pointed needle (light wood). The 2mm needle stops the picked up stitches being stretched out of shape, and the 3.75mm needle ensures that the cuff bind off lies flat and is not ruffled.

I shall illustrate the technique using the cuff of a mitten. The mitten has been knit top down, with a patterned outer cuff and a plain inner cuff, the inner cuff has been knit to the correct length for folding under, and the mitten has been turned inside out.

First, you need to pick up stitches around the beginning of the cuff. In the example mitten, these are purl bumps and are quite clear, being the background (white) stitches along the lower edge of a Latvian Braid.

The number of purl bumps to pick up should match the number of stitches to be bound off – in this case, the inner cuff has 60 stitches, so I have picked up 60 purl bumps. Beginning at the start of the round, place the tip of your 2mm needle into the purl bump as though you were purling a stitch, and lift the bump onto the needle; repeat for the second stitch, and so on until stitches have been picked up all around the cuff and you have the correct number of stitches on your 2mm needle.

Next, fold your cuff along the  edge line (this is a round of purl stitches at the fold point, designed to help the folded cuff lie flat) so that the live cuff stitches meet the picked up stitches.

In this photograph, the purl bumps are on the back dark wood needle, the live cuff stitches on the front brass needle. Take your largest needle, in this case 3.75mm (light wood), and put it through both the front and back stitch to knit them together.

Knit these two stitches together, and repeat for the second stitch on both needles. Then pull the first stitch you knitted over the second stitch, as you would do when performing a normal cast/bind off.

Repeat for the third stitch pair, and so on, until all pairs of stitches have been cast off. I like to neaten the join between first and last stitch, by placing my needle through the first stitch bound off, wrapping the yarn around it and pulling through to create another stitch, then passing the last stitch of the bind off over this stitch. Cut the yarn and pull through the last stitch on your needle.

The cast/bound off stitches lie flat and the fabric is unruffled. This gives a nice neat professional-looking finish.

This last photograph shows the right side of the cuff completed, with the Latvian Braid. The join at the first row below the Braid is undetectable.

 

Love Your Yarn Stash

I have been spending some time this Autumn reviewing and cataloguing my stash of yarn, as I have so much now acquired over so many years that I am not fully aware of what I do have. It has been a very worthwhile experience, and has already produced several parcels of yarn donations to Knit for Peace. If you don’t know of Knit for Peace please do check them out, they are a fantastic charity collecting knitted and crocheted items, yarns, and tools, which they distribute all around the world to those in need. Even if you have no items to donate, you can still Sponsor a Sack, perhaps in memory of a friend or loved one, to meet the cost of sending those parcels.

A tiny selection from my Ravelry Stash

I have been using the fabulous Ravelry stash tool to build my online catalogue of yarns, and it has really helped me view my stash in a new light. I already have lots of new ideas for using items from stash, both for impromptu knits and for using my Ravelry queue to suggest yarns to use. If you have not used this function then you really should as it is an excellent stash-busting tool. Here’s how it works:

Part of my Ravelry queue

Ravelry knows which yarns and how much yarn a pattern requires, and if you have a matching yarn in your stash, it suggests it, as in the example of Easy Seas where it has found that I have several colours of Rowan Kidsilk Haze with suitable quantities for this pattern. I can also mark a specific yarn to be used for a pattern in the queue, even if it is not the yarn specified in the pattern, as in the example of Rivendell Smoke Ring cowl, where I have marked a Crystal Palace yarn to be used from stash, as I have no Plucky Knitter yarn.

It is unlikely, but with a little analysis, I could probably knit everything on my queue, and much more, just from the yarns I have in stash! I may never have to buy yarn again (said no knitter ever!)

These two are a discontinued yarn from Louisa Harding called Grace Hand-Dyed. They are a DK weight yarn,  very silky and gorgeous bright colours. I bought them in a sale some years ago, but never used them because I rarely knit in DK and could not think of what to do with them. Having found them in my stash I now have an idea for a new design using them up and giving me something wearable and cosy. Watch this space for a free pattern that may help you use up some items from your stash, too.

 

 

Feather Cap Beanie Pattern Released!

The Feather Cap Beanie pattern is now available from the Granary Knits Ravelry store,

Feather Cap is a stranded knit hat, using ten colours of Jamieson’s of Shetland wonderful pure wool Spindrift yarn. The motif itself and the colours I have chosen reflect the feather patterns and colours of my lovely Cream Legbar chickens: Freddie, Sorrel, Sage, and Lavender. From a distance they look a like a dull brown, but close up, their feathers are a beautiful brown/grey, with touches of cream and pink. The four background colours and six foreground colours reflect this lovely effect.

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compositehat

The pattern gives three sizes; teen/small adult, adult, and large adult. In addition to the subdued palette I also provide suggestions for a more brightly coloured palette and for a monochrome colourway in shades of grey.

Many thanks are due to my tech editor, Fiona (https://contact86367.wixsite.com/alittlebitsheepish), and to my lovely test knitters: Jacqui, Larisa, and Madeleine.

I am also working on matching mittens (full mitten and fingerless) and a matching cowl, so watch this space!

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/feather-cap-beanie

beads and semi-precious stones

I have been fascinated by beads since I was a child. When I was little, the coolest thing we girls had was a collection of beads each. We would take them outside to show our friends; sometimes we swapped beads if there was a particularly choice one in a friend’s collection, but mostly we just handled and admired them. The fascination has never left me, even if I no longer play swapsies with them!

 

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Beads of blue and green glass
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Garnet beads made into drop earrings using enamelled copper wire
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Garnets, Amazonite, Malachite, and Blue Banded Agate
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Abalone shell, semi-precious cabochons and nuggets from my Mum’s collection of gemstones
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Various tumbled nuggets from my Mum’s collection of gemstones

My Mum used to make jewellery using semi-precious stones and I joined in, loving the smooth surfaces of Tiger’s Eye and Carnelian, and delighting in the rich colours of Lapis Lazuli and Garnet. I still have the remains of her stock of gemstones and love looking through them and handling the cabochons and nuggets. It is fascinating to learn that the same basic material, for instance beryl, altered by the addition of a range of chemicals and minerals, turns into Emeralds (chrome has been added) and Aquamarine (coloured by iron). Of course, the chemical additions were made millions of years ago and under high pressure, and that fact in itself is wonderful! Beryl is also a semi-precious stone in its own right, being available in a lovely range of pastel colours.

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Pastel coloured Beryl chips
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Blue banded and purple banded agate beads

A few years ago I decided to learn beading in order to make myself some interesting jewellery – I love earrings and have a huge collection. I made bracelets, earrings and necklaces, learned to wire-wrap and to create drop beads ready for hanging from ear-wires. The skill in wrapping wire and making beads into something that could hang elegantly has stood me in good stead when I decided to start designing knitting stitch markers.

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Tiger‘s Eye and Turquoise chips made into stitch markers

Having been a knitter my whole life (and a crocheter since my teens), I have always been interested in the construction of knitted materials, and when I found out it was possible to knit and crochet with fine wire and add beads just as you do with woollen yarn, well there was no stopping me! It is a bit more fiddly than knitting with yarn, but very satisfying to make a small object, such as ethereal earrings or a delicate bracelet.

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New Jade chips crocheted into an earring

Recommended reading: Gemstones of the World by Walter Schumann. 5th ed. Sterling NY, 2013.

top five lace shawl designers on ravelry

Lace shawls are my favourite knitting project. I have knitted quite a few over the last few years. Last year I set myself a personal challenge to knit a shawl a month for twelve months, and I completed the challenge in February 2016. I loved doing it and it gave me great insight into the way shawls are constructed, and what makes a great shawl (as opposed to just a very nice shawl). The following is my selection of five superb lace shawl designers.

Rosemary Hill (Romi on Ravelry)
Romi does design the most beautiful shawls. Last year, during my personal challenge The Year of Knitting Lacily, I knitted Asterope from her collection of Seven Small Shawls Year 1: The Pleiades. In fact I bought several of her small shawl collections and could have knitted any one of them, they are all gorgeous! I love the attention to detail, the interesting construction, and in the case of Asterope, the stunningly beautiful border.

 

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Asterope, on the blocking mat

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Verybusymonkey
Verybusymonkey on Ravelry is a very busy lady indeed. She has published nine collections of shawls as ebooks, as wells as patterns for socks, hats, etc. Her trademark design feature is intricate patterning, not always lacy, that relates to the story of the shawl. For instance, she has designed several sets of shawls on the theme of scientists, shawls named Newton, Tesla, Darwin, Galileo, and so on; each shawl shows an element of the discovery for which that scientist is famous. So the Tesla shawl has a border representing alternating current; the Newton shawl illustrates Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion; the Darwin shawl shows the evolution from a single simple shape through successive layers to a beautiful intricate border. I have not yet knitted Darwin, but I know I will soon!

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Tesla

Nim Teasdale
NimbleNim on Ravelry has produced a fabulous collection of shawl designs. I love the way they are constructed. She will provide two or more20151226_101817.jpg charts for a particular shawl and you decide, based upon how large you want the shawl or how much yarn you have at your disposal, on how many repeats to do of each pattern.  It is a very flexible design methodology, and is a wonderful way of using up every scrap of a precious skein. During my challenge last year, I knitted two of her designs, Whirlwind Romance and  Slow Dance, and I loved knitting both of them. On my ToDo list is Ashputtel and The Peacock’s Tale (although, really, I could knit any or all of them!)

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Slow Dance, detail showing beads

Jane Araujo
Jane Araujo may not have the output of some of the designers listed here, but what she has produced are gorgeous! Nightso20150819_193235.jpgngs is the loveliest all-over-lace pattern you will ever see, and it is so easy! It is another pattern where, as long as you have enough yarn, you can just keep adding repeats, and I like patterns like that! I knitted my version in Baa Ram Ewe Titus, colourway Eccup (a lovely deep teal), but I’m thinking of knitting another one in a yarn with a long colour change,  such as Kauni, as the samples that have been knitted in variegated yarns look stunning. So far I have only knitted Nightsongs, but Jane’s other shawls all feature on my ToDo list, starting with the wonderful conflagration of Lace and Entrelac that is Dianna.

 

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Nightsongs

Anna Dalvi
Anna Dalvi designs beautiful complex-looking shawls with a story behind each one. Her Mystic Shawls collection is full of beautiful airy lusciousness; The Ancient Egypt in Lace and Colour ebook has fascinating designs based on the symbolism of colour in ancient Egypt. I have not yet knitted any of Anna’s designs, but I do love drooling over the patterns! I particularly like the triangular shawl Seth for its bold geometric patterning; and Memphis, because it is a pi-shawl and I really want to knit a pi-shawl!

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Seth, photo copyright Anna Dalvi, from the book Ancient Egypt in Lace and Colour

top five favourite knitting related blogs

I am a follower of quite a few blogs. These are my top five favourites at the moment, in no particular order.

Donna Druchunas
Donna designs the most wonderful shawls, lacy tops, and stranded colourwork socks and mittens inspired by Lithuanian and Estonian traditional patterns. On her blog she writes about knitting, designing, and living in Vermont. Her patterns can be found in Ravelry, and in books, such as Arctic Lace and Ethnic Knitting Discovery.

Kate Davies
I love Kate Davies’ stranded designs and I love her blog. She is so open and honest, reading it you feel like you are sitting chatting to a friend over a cup of coffee! I have knitted her Rams and Yowes blanket, her Peerie Flooers beanie, and her Northmavine Hap – the most wonderful rippling colourful interpretation of the traditional Shetland Old Shale pattern.  She has published many patterns on Ravelry and in book form. I particularly like The Colours of Shetland which has some brilliant colourwork designs, including the aforementioned Hap.

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Being Knitterly
Nikki Merrell is a knitwear designer and writes a very interesting, if rather sporadic, blog featuring articles on techniques.  I am particularly fascinated by her dissection and analysis of how a knitted fabric is constructed,  and what actually happens when we knit a stitch. She is also very inclusive, giving instruction for both right and left handed knitters and for those who knit in the Continental style, not just for English style knitters.

Attic24
Attic24 must be one of the most visited craft blogs on the internet; Lucy has thousands of followers worldwide, and rightly so. She writes about her love of the Yorkshire Dales, her caravan, spring flowers, decorating, her family; but above all of those she writes about her love of crochet and of colour. And her crochet is really colourful! It leaps off the page, it’s vibrant,  joyous, ecstatic. I love it. In fact, it was finding Attic24 some years ago that rekindled in me my dormant love of yarn and got me back into full time crafting.

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She writes clear photo tutorials of her designs, which are free, and which include the Summer Garden granny square blanket above – my interpretation in a more subdued palette!

Peacefully Knitting
Tina at Peacefully Knitting produces a regular blog full of insight and information about yarn and knitting. I always look forward to getting the email saying she has written another post.