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Category Archives: Pattern

FO & Pattern: Serpentine Avenue

Serpentine AvenueRemember the old joke about tombstones reading I told you I was ill? It was one of my uncles’ favourite jokes, bless their socks.

Though magnificently Gothic, Serpentine Avenue is not my tombstone, but it does allow me to say I told you I was knitting!

It is the first pattern release for the Karie Bookish Knits/Old Maiden Aunt autumn 2012 yarn club. At the moment it is only available to yarn club members, but the pattern will be made available for general consumption in January 2013 as part of an ebook.

The shawl was written for OMA Bluefaced Leicester 4ply. It used approximately 375 yrds and is knitted on 4 mm needles.

But I want to write a little bit about the design process involved in designing Serpentine and the other yarn club patterns.

When Lilith of OMA first approached me, I started out by creating a moodboard on Pinterest. Lilith had decided on yarn bases by that point and then dyed up some samples for me. What a privilege it was! I sat there surrounded by yarns and beautiful colours – and I had to figure out which yarn/colour combinations I wanted to use.

It was around that time I started sketching patterns. Lilith and I had already decided upon Sherlock Holmes & Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  as a common reference point between us. So, I wanted something gothic, something Victoriana, something vaguely burlesque, and something steampunkish.

And so I ended up with a stack of swatches and a stack of stitch patterns.

I finally cast on for Serpentine during the Olympics Opening Ceremony – it was to be my own Ravellenic Games project – but it flew off my needles. The only snag I hit was trying to decide upon the cast-off edging. I first used an elaborate crochet cast-off  and it worked nicely. Then I changed my mind as I know a lot of knitters are not very comfortable with crochet. It was a step too far, I felt. The crochet cast-off will be used in another pattern down the line.

The second cast-off was a picot cast-off. It was pretty – it was very pretty – and I was happy with it for a long time. I finished designing and knitting the two other yarn club patterns – and suddenly the picot cast-off did not work. Don’t ever try to tinker back a picot cast-off on a shawl, dear readers. It was not fun and I did it two days before the photo shoot.

Serpentine Avenue

I am really looking forward to seeing people’s shawls. A lot of people have already talked about its Gothic and Steampunk feel – and I am so, so pleased that people have made that connection. It was very much the intention.

Then, the photo shoot.

If I look pale and flustered, it is because I wore a corset. I could hardly walk and talk at the same time – however did ladies waltz in corsets? I bought the corset especially for the photo shoot from Corsets UK – my corset is of far better quality than I would have assumed given the very reasonable price tag and they have good customer service. I also bought some stunning handmade earrings from Cherryblossom on ebay – again, highly recommended.

And now back to work. You know, I told you I was knitting..

Florence & Molly

The start of August is always the busiest time of year for me and this year is no exception. The yarn companies are beginning to launch their Autumn-Winter collections with new patterns and yarns galore – and as a result I have a thousand thingsto keep my head and hands busy. I hope to have a more in-depth look at some of my favourites soon – but before I can play favourites, I need some time to breathe and gather my thoughts.

To tide things over, I thought I would share a free pattern with you.

I designed the Florence scarf last summer at the request of a well-know British department store. It takes one ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, it is a good introduction to knitting with fine mohair yarns, and it would make a good ‘first lace project’. The scarf was very popular with the store and I thought it might also prove popular with others. I think of it as a quiet design, if that makes sense.

There are more designs to come, but I’ll write about those as they get released.

In case you want something more worthwhile to read than my moans about work, my good friend* Molly Templeton has gone viral (as the kids say) with coverage ranging from Jezebel to The Atlantic Wire. Why? Molly took issue with the cover of The New York Times Book Review. It had a How-To issue in which men wrote about a wide range of topics and the ladies got to write about how to raise children and how to cook. In the words of Ms M.:

 There is nothing wrong with cooking and raising children; there are lots of things right and wonderful with these pursuits. They are also, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, traditionally female tasks, and when you take into consideration the VIDA stats, the history of gender imbalance in literature and journalism and the world at large, you might find yourself a little frustrated by the fact that it’s 2012 and we are still too often relegated to writing about deeply gendered topics. (Of the 18 bylined reviews and essays in the issue, five are by women.)

And so Molly decided to start The How To Tumblr which features women writing how-to articles about anything and everything under the sun.This is her call for contributions:

I’m sure there’s something you know how to do. I’m sure there are things your many brilliant friends know how to do, or something you could write about that has to do with doing a thing (most of the NYTBR pieces were, of course, book reviews). I would like to read the essays, reviews, comics, lists and more we, and they, could write in this vein –  irreverent, funny, heartbreaking, ironic, wry, snarky, sweet, clever, brilliant, silly, and everything else.

Inevitably, Molly’s tumblr has turned out a whole host of fun, insightful and interesting essays . You can contribute too – Molly’s project is open to women and those who identify as genderqueer/not of a binary gender.

(* how good? Handknitted-present-good!)

Pattern: Elsinore Shawl

Remember yesterday when I mentioned a photo shoot for a new pattern? Well, I can show you the results now!

ElsinoreThe Elsinore shawl is now available to buy from Ravelry which is why I can now show you some of the amazing photos we shot in Copenhagen.

I had long wanted to shoot some photos in Denmark as I gather so much of my inspiration from my old homeland. Elsinore proved the perfect pattern: I designed it with a persistent idea of ‘flatness’ in mind: the stitch patterns are quite pared down in order to showcase the fabulous colour of the yarn. Flat and pared down .. all are words that I could use to describe Nordic light, especially during the winter months.

ElsinoreThat is not to say that I think Elsinore is a minimal shawl. I started out wanted to capture ‘flatness’ but the simple lines turned out to be really flattering once draped over a person.

I was really lucky that my old friend Kirsten Marie agreed to model for me. She sings, she knits, she reads, she translates, she sews – and now she models too. And Kirsten Marie introduced me to a photographer who was interested in the challenge of shooting lace shawls in the depth of winter. Win-win.

The original sample is knitted in OMA superwash merino 4ply in “strange rock’n’rollers”. It took roughly 390 yards to knit the sample but I recommend 400 yards in the pattern just to be on the safe side. And as always I recommend using a 4mm (US 6) needle to give the shawl a good deal of drape. The yarn was phenomenal to work with and the colourway was very interesting: it kept changing colour dependent upon where and when I was working on it.

And the last chapter in this story belongs to my poor test knitter, S. She kindly offered to testknit the pattern whilst I was gallivanting in Denmark. Unfortunately this meant she actually testknitted most of my next pattern. Amazingly the wrong chart worked really well with the Elsinore charts and she did not suspect a thing. I felt horribly guilty when I realised what had happened – but it’s intriguing that the chart worked!

Elsinore was such a joy to design and knit. It came together very quickly and proved a really relaxing knit for me. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

Pattern: Tornved

My heart sank when I woke up this morning. It was another classic Glasgow early-winter morning: overcast, rainy and dreich. And I meant to do a photo shoot today, rats.

Yes, boys and girls, I finished designing and writing another pattern. Remember the Old Maiden Aunt knitalong? I set myself the challenge of designing a shawl pattern during the KAL (oh, and knitting the sample and writing the pattern too).

I had the idea very early on that I wanted to design a shawl with my childhood in mind. I spent my summers in Tornved, a tiny hamlet in rural Denmark, where my great-grandmother. Lily, lived in a cottage. Her cottage looked out on farmland and I thought I wanted to put that into writing knitting. So, there you have it: birds chasing seeds and flying over unworked soil. I find it oddly poetic.

And on a practical note, I love small shawls with a solid stocking stitch middle but I find them quite dull to knit, so I wanted a lace pattern that would break up the monotony of stocking stitch but remain fairly solid.

Anyway, I eventually decided to take some photos inside one of the glass house in the nearby Botanic Gardens. Some of the statues kindly volunteered to be wrapped up in wool which gave my shawl a faint Gothic feel. Maybe those are not birds, but hearts..Hmm..

I am still unsure about the amount of light, but things are not going to get any brighter for a few weeks (yay, solstice!). Also, the grand prize in the Old Maiden Aunt November knitalong is a complete Tornved kit, so I needed to wrap things up.

Tornved took me three weeks to chart (because charts kept being stupid and big and difficult to knit) and less than four days to knit (when I finally cracked the chart thing). This speed-knitting adventure can possibly be the reason why I’m struggling with a wonky wrist now. Don’t try this at home, kids. And it was an oddly emotional knit (and I don’t do emotions) because I sat there thinking about ways to incorporate memories into a knit without being too specific.

You can purchase Tornved on Ravelry, if you so desire. I used 390 yards of Old Maiden Aunt Merino 4ply in the colour Berry Good and knitted it on 4mm circs. I did not bead this shawl, but I have included several beading tips for all you bling-lovers.

And that is that, I guess. I have lived with this shawl design for a month and now it is leaving the nest. Aww..

FO: Alva

I just released a new free shawl pattern on Ravelry: Alva.

Alva takes one ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe (or two balls of regular Kidsilk Haze) and is knitted on 5mm needles. My sample is knitted using sh. 200 (“Twillight”).

I designed Alva because while I love the new KSH yarn, there was a real dearth of patterns available for it. I wanted a simple, straightforward knit which would showcase the colours. Alva is designed for beginning knitters which is why the lace edging is optional (and written out rather than charted). .

I find it is very different to design for yarn support (which I guess Alva is) rather than design for myself. With yarn support, I keep the end user in mind: who would be knitting this pattern? What skill level am I aiming for? How can I make this even easier to knit? I want my design to be accessible to as many people as possible. This is a fun challenge – and actually more than a challenge than it is to design for myself.

My Karise shawl is currently being knitted in a KAL on Ravelry. It was also designed for yarn support, but I took advantage of being able to play around with charts. S. of MooncalfMakes described Karise as having “..a kind of architectural quality to it, like wrought iron-work or granite carvings.” I consider this a huge compliment: I find architecture incredibly inspiring and I hope Karise would have a certain sense of stillness to its lace. It is possibly the closest I have come to designing anything for myself.

I look around Ravelry and I see increasingly complicated lace shawls being showcased. In my own quiet way I guess I’m reacting against that trend. I just don’t get it. I do not want to wear things that have 1001 details. I would feel overwhelmed, drowning in frills and bobbles and twisted stitches. I would much rather wear a carefully edited shawl, something understated, something knowing. Maybe it is the Scandinavian in me, maybe it is because I like sparseness in most things.

And William Carlos Williams and his This Is Just To Say was just as difficult to write as, say, Ezra Pound‘s Cantos (if not more), this liberal arts grad girl would like to point out.

On a whole other note, Fourth Edition is being moved about in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for disruption (unless I manage to work things out quickly).

PS. ‘Tis now the season for CRAP light so until April, expect bad photos.

FO & Pattern: Karise

Karise shawlYesterday I cast-off the laceweight version of my Karise shawl. Today I tweaked the charts one last time, had a final proof-read and, with a deep breath, uploaded the pattern to Ravelry.

Karise is now available to purchase, in other words.

A few words on the pattern.

Karise is designed to be modular. That means that it is entirely up to the knitter how many times the various charts are repeated. I have given my own suggestions, of course, but because the charts flow organically into each other you can do exactly what you like.  You want to knit Chart A once but Chart B thirteen times? Or maybe Chart A 5 times and Chart B two times? Go for it.

Secondly, I have given a suggested yardage of 370-420 yards, but my shawl (pictured above) took less than 300 yards as did my laceweight shawl. I suspect I may just be  a freak, so I upped the yardage just to be on the safe side.

And the name? Karise is named after a small town in Denmark. These days Karise is mostly famous for being mentioned in a terrible, terrible song, but the Danish 19th romantic play Elven Hill takes place just outside Karise. Seeing as the original sample uses the colourway Ghillie Dhu – which means ‘guardian tree faerie’ – I could not resist.

Karise is pronounced Ka-REE-Seh, incidentally.

I have a few more design commissions, so watch this space. I also have the best idea for a shawl/scarf thingy but I’ll need to play around a lot more as this idea is slightly outside my usual comfort zone..

Larisa & the Halfway Point

How can this be July already? To celebrate, my Larisa scarf is now available to download for free from Ravelry.

Recent events in Casa Bookish:

  • We went to see the new Riverside Transport Museum here in Glasgow. It is smaller than you think and the interior is painted a strange lime-green hue which makes everybody look jaundiced – but it is an interesting space. It’ll be good to see more imaginative projects shoot up alongside the Clyde river.
  • When Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon is the third-most intellectually challenging book I have read this year, you know I’m in trouble. It was hugely enjoyable, actually, but I feel guilty for not reading Clever Stuff. Maybe I should consult this.
  • Don’t knit lace when you are tired and stressed. Trust me on this one.
  • As a household of news junkies, D and I have been glued to BBC News 24 and The Guardian’s coverage of the UK phone-hacking scandal. MetaFilter has a great primer if you are unaware of the scandal (and stay for the comments).
  • I had a stressful day trying to upgrade my blog software which turned out to be incompatible with my host company’s servers. As you can tell, I managed to work things out, but I’m always thankful for UK hosting suggestions.

Glasgow had her annual Two Days of Summer but we are back to heavy rain, grey skies, and woolly-wear appropriate temperatures, huzzah! I am tempted to re-start Fenris which I had to rip out as I had grossly mis-calculated my measurements vs sweater measurements. Are you still working on your summer knitting?

Pattern: Kaldred

Here is a quick and easy pattern for Kaldred, a crocheted bracelet/bangle.

As the UK & US have different crochet terminology, I have included both. For the Danes among you, Kaldred also comes in Danish.

Tip: try embellishing Kaldred with beads, buttons, sequins or ribbons.

+ Crochet hook size 4mm (US size 6 or G if you cannot find a 6)
+ Approx 20 yards of Double-knitting or light worsted yarn. I used Rowan Denim.
+ Knitter’s needle for weaving in ends.

UK terminology:
Row 1: Ch 8, sl st to form circle. Ch 2, turn.
Row 2: 5 tr into circle, ch 4, 1 dc into circle, ch 2, turn.
Row 3: 5tr into the circle you formed in previous row, ch 4, 1 dc in circle, ch 2, turn.

Repeat Row 3 until one repeat short of desired length.

Then ch 5 tr into the circle you formed in previous row. Make sure that this row “leans” the opposite way of your starting point so that when you hold the end and the beginning together they form a continuous circle. Join the two ends together by slip stitching along the side of the chained circle.

Weave in ends.

US terminology:
Row 1: Ch 8, slip stitch to form circle, ch 2, turn.
Row 2: 5 dc into circle, ch 4, 1 sc into circle, ch 2, turn.
Row 3: 5 dc into the circle you formed in previous row, ch 4, 1 sc into circle, ch 2, turn.

Repeat Row 3 until one repeat short of desired length.

Then ch 5 dc into the circle you formed in previous row. Make sure that this row “leans” the opposite way of your starting point so that when you hold the end and the beginning together they form a continuous circle. Join the two ends together by slip stitching along the side of the chained circle.

Weave in ends.

Dansk opskrift:
1. omg: Hækl 8 lm, saml dem til en ring m 1 km i første lm. 2 lm, vend.
2. omg.: 5 stm i ringen, 4 lm, 1 fm i ringen, 2 lm, vend.
3. omg.: 5 stm i ringen du dannede i forg. omg., 4 lm, 1 fm i ringen, 2 lm, vend.

Gentag 3. omg. indtil ønskede længde.

Dernæst hækl 5 stm i ringen du dannede i forg. omg. Sørg for, at denne gentagelse af viften hælder den anden vej end den allerførste vifte. Hækl de to ender sammen med km langs den første luftmaskering.

Hæft ender.

Enjoy! God fornøjelse!