Inspiration for a design can strike at any time! I was watching the TV series Bones one day, when the background to the current scene suddenly struck me as more interesting than the dialogue. Two characters were holding a conversation in front of a trellis room divider. Luckily, I was watching a DVD and could pause and rewind so that I could start scribbling ideas.
And just like that, the Trellis pattern was born. Trellis is a warm and roomy tam, featuring a radiating all-over pattern of curves and straight lines. It is knit in two colours of Jamieson’s Spindrift 4ply yarn (shown here in Sky and Purple Heather).
Papaver rhoeasis the botanical name for this weed; common names for it include common poppy, corn poppy, corn rose, field poppy, Flanders poppy, or red poppy. It is a notable annual agricultural weed, appearing in cultivated fields during the summer all over Europe.
The leaves, stems and bud coverings are a blue-green, the four-petalled flowers are a rich scarlet with a purple base to each petal, and the seed capsule is an intriguing shape, a bulbous cup with a little cap to keep the rain away from the seeds and to help distribute them in the wind..
field poppy produces an enormous amount of pollen, one of the highest
pollen-producing plants in the UK, and is therefore an important food
source for pollen-collecting/consuming insects, such
as many species of beetle.
As far as human consumption goes, the poppy’s black seeds are
edible, and can be eaten either on their own or as an ingredient in
bread; oil made from the seed is highly regarded in France. The
petals contain a red dye which is used in some medicines and wines;
in traditional folk medicine, it was used for gout, aches, and pains.
The petals were used to create a syrup that was fed to children to
help them sleep, although there is no opioid content.
My design for this tam ignores the beautiful but overly-familiar flower and instead uses the nodding flower buds, the seed capsules and the tiny black seeds. The wheel of the tam is a representation of the cap sheltering the seeds in their capsule. The seeds can be worked as just colour, or you can add small black beads making this an unusual and interesting tam.
Autumn Leaves celebrates the turning of the seasons, the end of summer in a blaze of glorious colour. It is an elongated crescent shawl knit in a fingering/4ply yarn with a long(ish) colour change. The edging features a simple repeating pattern of stylised drooping leaves and is worked first; the body of the crescent is then filled in with scrunchy garter stitch using short row shaping to achieve the crescent shape. Beading on the edge section, which is optional, emphasises the leaf shaping.
The Autumnal sample shown was knitted in Rowan Sock; singles fingering/4ply; 75% wool 25% nylon; 400 m/ 437 yds per 100g / 3.53 oz ball; 1 ball; shade 00001 Jewel. As yardage is very tight, you may need 2 balls. A second, unbeaded, sample is also shown, which used Schoppel-wolle Zauberball in 2244 Zauberwald; this gave a very light and open fabric.
The pattern consists of 9 small charts for the edging, and suggestions are given for customising the shawl to different sizes.
The beads are optional; the sample shown used 500 4mm beads in #562 Gold from Debbie Abrahams.
It’s a week to go until the summer Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, and Knit Picks have today published their new summer pattern collection, called Botanic: Nature-Inspired Lace.
The collection contains six lovely laceweight patterns, and I am delighted that my pattern, Solstice, has been included. Solstice is a light coverup for warm sunny days and languid summer nights. A lovely floaty shawl, with a wide neck that makes it easy to slip over the head on cooler evenings. It is knit in Voliere, their brand new laceweight yarn, a mix of 30% Mulberry Silk, 40% Linen and 30% Baby Alpaca.
The pattern book, in both hard copy and eBook forms, can be purchased from the Knit Picks Website.
Wild oats, (genus Avena),
are a variety of tufted annual grasses of the family Poaceae, native
to Eurasia and Africa. Wild oats are sometimes cut for hay, and young
plants provide forage for grazing animals. All species have edible
seeds, and domesticated oats (Avena sativa) are an important
cereal crop in temperate climates around the world; several other
species are locally important food crops. A number of wild oat
species are considered weeds in agricultural fields and can be
difficult to eradicate.
oats are erect grasses with long flat linear leaves. The
inflorescences are typically large and loose and bear minute bisexual
flowers. The ovary is characteristically hairy, and some species
feature long awns (bristles) on the seeds.
of the best-known species is the common wild oat (A. fatua),
which has become a common field and roadside weed; originally native
to Europe and C and SW Asia, it has now spread throughout temperate
regions of the world. It grows in small tufts about 0.9 to 1.2 metres
(3 to 4 feet) tall. Mature spikelets are bell-shaped, with bent
Wild oats grow with abandon all over
my garden, popping up in borders and vegetable beds alike. I love
seeing their feathery heads dancing in a summer breeze. Some heads
are long and narrow, others, where the individual seeds within the
seed head have started to separate and mature, are wide and
As a food for humans, the seeds are
particularly valuable. The seed ripens in the latter half of summer
and, when harvested and dried, can be stored for several years. It
has a floury texture and a mild, creamy flavour. It can be
used as a staple food crop in either savoury or sweet dishes.
The seed can be cooked whole, though it is more commonly ground into
a flour and used as a cereal in all the ways that oats are
used, especially as a porridge but also to make biscuits,
sourdough bread, etc. The seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw or
cooked in salads, stews, etc. Roasted, the seed can be used as
a coffee substitute.
Birds love the seeds once they are
ripe, my chickens can strip a plant of its seedheads in seconds.
Medicinally, it is considered a diuretic. Cosmetically, a meal made from oats can be added to bathwater or used as a facial scrub. The straw has a wide range of uses such as for bio-mass, fibre, mulch, paper-making and thatching.
My design for this tam uses several elements of the wild oat plant; the three-part seedhead on its drooping stem, the leaves, and the opening head revealing the three seeds themselves. The interlocking elements create another fortuitous motif, heart shapes in different sizes.
This is the second in my collection of tam patterns based around the theme of Weeds, this pattern uses three colours of Jamieson’s Spindrift yarn to create a distinctive hat.
The teasel is a fascinating plant, very well
guarded by sharp spikes along stem and leaf margins, with a mass of
tiny lavender-coloured flowers bursting through the seed head in
bands, starting with the centre of the
flower head and then moving in waves down to the base and up to the
tip. They may be
little flowers but
they nevertheless provide abundant nectar
for bees, ants, and hoverflies, and once finished flowering the
goldfinches move in to feast on the seeds.
Although the teasel does not generally provide food for humans, the young leaves are edible although one must take great care to avoid the spiny, stout hairs. Teasel leaves can be consumed raw, cooked or added to a smoothie. The root can be used in a tea or for making vinegar or tinctures. The root has many health benefits as it contains inulin and a chemical that destroys the itch mite causing scabies.
have an important place in the history of fibre. Dipsacus
was widely used in textile processing, providing a natural comb for
cleaning, aligning and raising the nap on fabrics, particularly wool.
It differs from the wild type in having stouter, somewhat recurved
spines on the seed heads. The dried flower heads were attached to
spindles, wheels, or cylinders, sometimes called teasel frames, to
raise the nap on fabrics (or tease the fibres). By the 20th century,
teasels had been largely replaced by metal cards, which can be made
uniformly and do not require constant replacement as the teasel heads
wear. However, some people who weave wool still prefer to use teasels
for raising the nap, claiming that the result is better; in
particular, if a teasel meets serious resistance in the fabric, it
will break, whereas a metal tool will rip the cloth.
The brown, oval, spiky seed heads of
the teasel are a familiar sight in all kinds of habitats, from
grassland to waste ground, even cultivated in gardens for their use
as an ornament.
The the design for this tam was inspired by the spiny bracts that guard the seed head, and the overall pattern of tiny flattened triangles seen when you look deep into the seed head.
are just plants that are growing in the wrong place. They may have
been self seeded, blown by the wind or dropped
by passing birds. We root them out and throw them on the compost
heap, or burn them, or smother them in toxic chemicals; we rarely
look at them and see their beauty, we disregard their utility as food
or medicine for either ourselves or for animals or insects; they are
not worthy of study or preservation.
There are so many weeds that I admire, my so-called vegetable garden is full of them. It is true, not everything can find a place in a garden, but everything has something to offer the earth. Take stinging nettles, for instance; they sting you if you are unwary, they grow where you don’t want them, and scurry underground to pop up to form large clumps if you let them. But they are an enormously useful plant. They are a host plant for butterflies such as the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock, and for ladybirds, which lay their eggs on nettle leaves to provide food for their larvae. Their seeds are a nutritious food source for wild birds, shrews, field mice. They provide nitrogen to enrich the compost heap, their leaves and stems can be steeped in water to provide “nettle tea”, a valuable liquid feed for vegetables and fruit bushes. They can be used to feed animals and humans; they contain a lot of minerals and vitamins: they are high in magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin A, as well as protein, making them a superfood for humans and livestock. The leaves can be used for teas, pesto, soup and as a vegetable, cooked like spinach. The leaves can be dried and crumbled into feed for chickens to give a vitamin boost during the winter months. And beyond all of that, the stems can be left to dry where they stand during the winter, and in the spring, the retted fibres can be processed into a yarn not unlike hemp. Not so useless after all!
I have chosen five weeds as inspiration for this collection of tam patterns: Shepherd’s Purse, Wild Oats, Poppy, Teasel, and Thistle. All grow very well in my garden in West Yorkshire, UK; some I leave for birds to eat the seeds (goldfinches are particularly fond of teasel and thistle seeds), some seeds I collect to scatter in wild places (poppies are a delightful and welcome sight growing in unlikely places), some I root out when their work as foodsource has completed, and they become valuable compost additions.
Everything has a place and a purpose, even weeds.
The first weed I have chosen for the collection is the Shepherd’s Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris. It grows almost unnoticed in my vegetable beds, and then suddenly everywhere there are stems covered in seed capsules. I collected and pressed a number of the stems so that I would have a permanent design resource. The result is the tam pattern based upon the seed capsules, but also utilising the tiny star-like flowers and the corona of leaves typical of the plant.
The European Swift is a much loved visitor to the UK, but one which is sadly in decline. This tam pattern celebrates swifts wheeling over the English countryside in summer, an iconic sight and sound. I have chosen a monochrome palette for this tam; you could use bright or muted colours. Instructions are given for four sizes, to fit small, medium narrow, medium wide, or large. The narrow and wide sizes refer to how full the tam part of the hat is. This tam is roomy and warm.
Suggested yarn: Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift; 4ply; 100% wool; 105 m/ 115 yds per 25 g / 0.88 oz ball: 1 or 2 balls of each colour, depending upon size. Sample shown in 104 Natural White and 126 Charcoal.
Small, medium narrow, medium wide, large, to fit head circumferences 54 cm (58 cm, 58 cm, 62 cm) / approx. 21 ¼” (23”, 23”, 24 ½”) at the brim. Finished sizes at the brim, unstretched, 45 cm (49 cm, 49 cm, 52 cm) / approx. 17 ¾” (19 ¼”, 19 ¼”, 20 ½”).
Needles: circular needles or DPNs, sizes 2.75 mm [UK/Can size 12, US size 2] and 3.25 mm [UK/Can size 10, US size 3].
The Swifts Tam pattern is available from the Granary Knits Payhip Store. There is a 25% discount on all tams, just enter coupon code Tam25 at checkout.
Harden Moss is the second in my Yorkshire Collection of patterns for shawls and other accessories. I am deeply inspired by the landscape around my home, and this collection of knitting patterns is my way of describing and celebrating the beautiful Yorkshire landscape that surrounds me. The Collection consists of shawls, wraps, and even a cowl, inspired by the rich textures and colours of the area around my home. The patterns vary in difficulty from beginner to more experienced knitter, but none, I hope, is too complicated. They are designed with chart knitting in mind, one pattern at least consists of one very large chart, but I have provided computer-generated written instructions as well.
Sometimes the shape of an area has inspired the shawl design, sometimes the movement of the air over the landscape. Harden Moss was inspired by the shapes of reservoirs in the High Peak District of Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. These typically have a distinct wide dam wall at one end then gradually narrow, reflecting the shape of the valley that was flooded to create them. There are many such reservoirs dotted about all over the Peak District, varying in size from a small tarn to an entire rift such as Longdendale, flooded to provide water to local communities.
This shawl is knit in a lofty laceweight yarn on large needles, making it a quick but satisfying project. I used Rowan Kidsilk Haze, but there are many other similar yarns that will give you excellent results. Consult Yarnsub for a list of these. As always, when substituting yarn, be sure to knit a swatch to check that you are able to get the right gauge for the pattern.
This pattern has been tech edited, but not test knit except by me. Full pattern support is available by emailing me.
This tam pattern features the beautiful leaf colours of the European Beech tree in Autumn. While the lower branches are still green, the middle and upper tiers graduate through yellow, russets, and rich red shades. Instructions are given for four sizes, to fit small, medium narrow, medium wide, or large. The narrow and wide sizes refer to how full the tam part of the hat is. The hat, being a tam, is roomy and warm.
Suggested yarn: Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift; 4ply; 100% wool; 105 m/ 115 yds per 25 g / 0.88 oz ball. Sample shown uses 8 colours, no more than 45 m / 50 yds of any one colour:
Dark green 147 Moss Pale green 998 Autumn Pale yellow 230 Yellow Ochre Dark yellow 1190 Burnt Umber Orange 1200 Nutmeg Russet 261 Paprika Red 187 Sunrise Dark Brown 235 Grouse
Sizes: Small, medium narrow, medium wide, large, to fit head circumferences 54 cm (58 cm, 58 cm, 62 cm) / approx. 21 ¼” (23”, 23”, 24 ½”) at the brim. Finished sizes at the brim, unstretched, 45 cm (49 cm, 49 cm, 52 cm) / approx. 17 ¾” (19 ¼”, 19 ¼”, 20 ½”).