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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Recommended reading: Gemstones of the World by Walter Schumann. 5th ed. Sterling NY, 2013.
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.
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!
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 more 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!)
Jane Araujo Jane Araujo may not have the output of some of the designers listed here, but what she has produced are gorgeous! Nightsongs 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.
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!
I am a follower of quite a few blogs. These are my top five favourites at the moment, in no particular order.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.