Karie Bookish Dot Net

Tag Archives: Purls

Quickie, Quickie

October 2015 132twSo, I collaborated with Malabrigo Yarns on this little thing.

Crosstown Traffic is its own very definite thing.

I love really variegated yarns but I find it hard to find good patterns for them. What looks amazing in the skein can be hard to handle when knitting – and so I came up with this cowl pattern. The variegated yarn is paired with a semi-solid which lets the wild colours shine in small, controlled bursts.

The end result is a cowl with a very relaxed, very urban feel. It uses two skeins of Malabrigo Twist – an aran-weight yarn which I took up to 6mm (US 10) needles. I added icord edgings for extra sophistication – such an easy technique with stunning results – but the yarn really just speaks for itself.

The name comes from an old Jimi Hendrix song – Crosstown Traffic (link isn’t very good, sorry). I was busy sketching when my partner David came home humming the song. It seemed an obvious name for the pattern: easy to remember, relaxed feel and just a bit streetwise.

I chose the colour combination of Twist in Zinc (a matte, pinkish/blue grey) and Plena (azure blue, deep purple, bright yellow and green!) for the sample, but any leftfield combination of semi-solid + variegated colours will work. Because it’s a Malabrigo Quickie, the cowl takes just two skeins – one of each.

Stashbusting. I like that.

Finally, let me just leave you with the initial sketch I did for this design. It was a lot of fun trying to capture the feel of the sketch in the pattern photos – I think we did well.

I live in a lovely, leafy part of Glasgow (which you’ll know if you follow me on Instagram) but Glasgow City Centre is frequently used as a film location ‘lookalike’ for major US cities in films like World War Z, Cloud Atlas, and The Dark Knight Rises. It was very cool to hike down some of the back alleys and find some awesome photo shoot locationssketch

Initial sketch for Crosstown Traffic.

I have a busy few months ahead of me – it’s workshop season – but I always love to see what you make using my patterns. Make sure to share your photos with me. I’m also just a tweet away – and I’ll be sharing plenty of details from my forthcoming travels up & down the country.

A Bit of Tryghed – the Last of the Hygge Patterns

October 2015 045-horz

The Tryghed hat was released today – the hat’s the last HYGGE pattern and it’s rather sad to say goodbye to a project that’s been really close to my heart. All good things come to an end, though, and Tryghed is a really nice way to finish. I’ll write more about the hat itself in a second, but first I want to go a bit Scandinavian on you.

Hygge is really hard to define because it encompasses so many things. We’ve talked about how it means to be warm, cosy, spending time with good friends, taking your time over coffee, and just kicking back with a good book and candlelight. The feeling of tryghed is really key to hygge, actually. Tryghed can be translated as ‘feeling safe and sound’ but it is also a really tactile thing. I feel it when I’m wrapped in my favourite quilt or when I walk hand in hand with my partner. I feel it when I’m sitting inside on a rainy night and I am warm. Without tryghed, you can have as much coffee or as warm a quilt as you like – but you won’t have hygge.

So, I wanted to translate that feeling of cosy tactile feeling of security into both a hat and the knitting experience.

Tryghed is a fully written pattern which can be knitted by most people. If you can knit in the round, knit & purl, and do basic decreases, then you can knit Tryghed. I have included some sneaky details like the crown shaping and one clever lace round, but this is a hat for most abilities. The yarn is Thick Pirkkalanka, a worsted-weight yarn from Midwinter Yarns and the hat takes just one skein. It is warm, squishy and everything I love in a yarn – again, the idea of tactile tryghed came into play! It goes without saying that I chose to knit the hat in my favourite colour in the entire world..

October 2015 073-horz

I’ll spare you the photos of me eating a cinnamon bun (we shot these photos on National Cinnamon Bun Day!) but I’ll link you to a few Scandinavian recipes for you to try out!

+ Swedish Cinnamon Buns (kanelbullar)

+ Danish Dream Cake (drømmekage)

+ Elderberry cordial syrup – for more Danish flavours, leave out the cloves and substitute with some lemon peel.

+ Gløgg, obviously! I really like this white wine version too.

It’s been such a joy to see all the beautiful things you’ve made. Keep sharing those photos with me and thank you for going me on this little adventure into my traditions and homelands.

 

Tutorial: Lace Charts 2 – How to Read a Basic Chart

I like my patterns to be inclusive, so I try to offer them with both written and charted instructions. However, sometimes (like the Mahy shawl) a chart is the best way of offering concise and precise information. I know many people don’t like charts, but I hope this series of tutorials will go some way to demystify charts and explain how to use them. 

This post is about how to read a basic chart. The chart is very straightforward – no shaping and no extra stitches being added. If you like this stitch pattern, you may enjoy my Florence scarf (it’s free and only takes one ball of fluffy yarn).

Basic Chart

Reading a chart can be really daunting. Unfortunately chart symbols are not standardised and so you need a key which explains what the various symbols mean. Always check the key to make sure you know what the symbols mean. 

Tip: If you find it hard to remember what the various symbols mean, or if you keep mixing up two symbols, make a copy of the chart and assign a colour to each symbol. Grab highlighter pens and start colouring in the chart. It’s a nice little brain-hack.

Basic Chart_actionsand layout

Now let’s look at the chart itself.

Row numbers are important because they tell you which is the RS and the WS rows. RS rows have numbers on the right-hand side. WS rows have numbers on the left-hand side. We’ll come back to why this is important in just a second!

Pattern repeats are outlined. Normally the outline is red, but you may come across a fat, black line being used if the pattern is provided in black & white. The outline is exactly the same as the repeat from *.. you are used to from written instructions. In this case, you can see this is a 10-stitch/6-row repeat. You repeat the ten stitches over and over, until you finish with one stitch (the one outside the repeat).

Action is how I think of a square in a lace chart. Each square represents an action you must take when you get to that stage. Many people think that each square represents a stitch, but sometimes you work more than one stitch per square or do not work a stitch at all. A right-slating line means you are knitting two stitches together; a V (not represented) typically means you are slipping a stitch from one needle to another.

When you work a lace chart, you move from one action to another. One of the biggest advantages of a chart is that it shows you how actions stack on top of one another, creating a stitch pattern. The visual mimicry of the chart symbols often mean your fabric will resemble the chart!

basic chart_direction

The two biggest problems of reading a lace chart is A) where to start and B) how to know which direction you read the actions. Many people think you start by reading a chart like you’d read a piece of English-languaged text: top left and reading left to right. This is incorrect. And this is where we go back to talking about row numbers because row numbers are your friends.

A chart mimics the knitted fabric and your first row will therefore always be at the very bottom. The row number shows that you start at the right-hand side and work your way left. This corresponds with how you work the stitches too: you move your stitches from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle. When you work the WS rows, you will have turned your work, so you need to turn/revert the direction in which you are reading the actions. Again, the row numbers are your anchors as they will show you where the given row starts!

So in short:

Basic Chart_starthere

This post is part of my Lace Chart tutorials.

Lace Charts 1 – The Anatomy of a Lace Chart.
Lace Charts 2 – How to Read a Basic Chart
Lace Charts 3 – How to Read a Shawl Chart
Lace Charts 4: Chart Tricks & Knitting Hacks

Hope you found this useful! Next time we’ll be looking at how to deal with ‘no stitches’, shaping, and how to customise your lace chart reading. As always, comments and questions are welcome! Kx

Knitting Mahy – Yarn Choices

Mahy1 The weather gods were in our favour. We finally have proper photos of the Mahy shawl. I’ll write about the inspiration behind the shawl in the next blog post, but first I wanted to talk yarn.

Mahy was knitted using roughly 770 yards of Shetland Organics 1ply.

Gulp, doesn’t 1ply mean that this is cobweb, sewing-thread thin and ethereal? Oh, Karie!

No.

In this context it simply means that the yarn consists of a single strand rather than several thinner plies twisted together. The yarn is registered on Ravelry as a cobweb and I find that grossly misleading.

Shetland Organics 1ply is a heavy laceweight. I used the light grey shade which runs 700 yrds per 100 g. The shawl is knitted on 5mm needles which results in a lightweight, yet substantial fabric.

This is not an ethereal, dainty shawl. Mahy is delightfully light on my shoulders, but it is also warm and practical.

The yarn was given to me by Louise Scollay who understands my taste in yarns.  In many ways, this yarn is reminiscent of Garthenor 1ply  (which I used for my Ronaes) and also of my beloved Snældan 1ply (which I used for Hoxne and Storegga): it is a heavy laceweight which has a lot of body despite appearances, blooms beautifully after blocking, and has a great deal of character whilst you work with it. I recommend both the Garthenor and the Snældan as good substitutes. Any excuse to use Snældan, really..

But what if you don’t share my passion for crunchy, rustic and woolly laceweights? Well, here’s another photo of Mahy and then we’ll talk yarn subs.

June 2015 252

Susan Crawford’s Fenella 2ply would make a really lovely shawl. The yarn is a smidgen heavier, but it looks beautiful worked up in garter stitch. The colours are all subtle and beautiful – and the yarn is very well-sourced (if you care about such things – I find I increasingly do).

Mahy is a true hap shawl using traditional Shetland techniques – and if you want a traditional feel and also want colour, Jamieson’s Ultra is a natural choice. Note that the balls are 25g balls, so you’ll need to order accordingly. I find the Ultra slightly more frail during blocking than other similar yarns, so take care.

As for handdyed yarns, why not think outside the box and go for slightly heavier yarns? Dublin Dye Co. Plush Lace runs 600 yrds/100g (you’d need two hanks). MoonlightYarns does an amazing gradient set which would look stunning with Mahy. You can use finer yarns, but make sure to swatch (i.e. simply work up enough of the central triangle!) to check you like the fabric you are getting. You may also want to consider using handdyed sock/4ply/fingering yarn – it would make for a bigger shawl and you’d definitely need to watch your yardage – but I love that idea. Due to the stitch patterns used, Mahy can take a fair amount of colour shifts, actually.

Recap:

  • I used roughly 770 yards of a heavy laceweight (700yrds/100g)
  • 1ply does not automatically mean cobweb etherealness!
  • Think about yardage/weight if substituting yarn.
  • Choose a yarn that looks lovely in garter stitch on 5mm needles.

(One day I shall convert you all to squishy, crunchy, oatmealy, rustic, woolly goodness.)

Mahy will become available as soon as my technical editor gives me the thumbs up. As for now, it’s wrapped around my shoulders.

June 2015 201

Hey, It’s a Scollay KAL!

scollaykal2

Just heard from Louise (Scollay!) and Isla that the sign-up thread for the Scollay KAL is now OPEN. Isla has a special 10% discount on all DK weight yarn from Monday 15th June until midnight Sunday 28th June – use the discount code scollaykaldk15

The original sample was knitted in New Lanark DK – a rustic yarn spun just down the road from me. If you want to substitute with another yarn, I recommend DK yarns with a touch of character. The cardigan is mostly worked in reverse stocking stitch with subtle lace details, so you’ll want something that’ll look nice with a tiny bit of texture but not obscure the lace. Also keep in mind that the cardigan has a seamless construction – this means that the yarn does all the ‘heavy lifting’, so stay clear of yarns with a lot of drape or no memory. Finally, the pattern contains hints on modifying the fit, but I am sure Louise Scollay will be talking a lot more about fit in the coming months. 

Whoop. I am really excited about this KAL – it is going to be so much fun seeing everybody’s colour, yarn and BUTTON choices.

Now back to editing the Mahy shawl..

Good & Bad News

Karie as a kid

A bit of Throwback Thursday for you – me as a kid wearing a bonafide islænder jumper knitted by my gran. I seem to remember it was red and white – so very patriotic for a Danish kid!

First Newsflash! you can hear me talk about islænder jumpers, Icelandic yokes, Faroese mittens, Norwegian reindeers and Danish nattrøjer at Cambridge’s The Sheep Shop on June 11 where I’ll be teaching a half-day class on Nordic traditions. I hear some very good things about the shop from Joanne Scrace and Louise Tilbrook and I have never been to Cambridge before – I am super-excited!

Second Newsflash! I am teaching an evening class on the Byatt Shawl at Hackney’s awesome Wild & Woolly on Friday June 12. We’ll talk colour choices, explore clever short-cuts for the techniques used in the shawl and find out how to turn a lace shawl into the perfect pub knitting project (yes, honestly!). I have heard so much buzz about Wild & Woolly from people like Corrie Plutoniummuffin,  Ms PlayfulDay and Allison – I cannot wait to visit.

I was hoping to pack more things into my jaunt south-wards (I’m dying to go back to my spiritual homeland of Brighton and check out YAK) but between various commitments in the London area and train times, I am just amazed I managed to squeeze in two classes! I hope to see many familiar faces at either – do let me know about anything you feel I need to check out whilst in London. Good food recommendations are always welcome!

Now for some sobering news. Sometimes things are put into perspective and I write the following with a heavy heart.

May 2013 486I knew that the Coats Craft division (which includes Rowan Yarns) was sold to a hedge fund earlier this year – other brands under the Coats Crafts division includes Patons, Regia, and the Milward haberdashery brand. Earlier this week I heard some sad news from several corners: the vast majority of UK Rowan Design Consultants are saying goodbye. It is both sad and also incredibly sobering to hear this. The DCs have been the bedrock of Rowan for many years and they have played an important part in both teaching essential skills to absolute beginners and lending technical advice to skilled knitters. Seeing them go is a reminder that the times are a-changing and we are likely to see more changes ahead.

I cut my teeth on being a DC. I was first added to the fold in late 2009, and the first year taught me so much. I learned technical, administrative things like how to work with buy plans and how to implement various stock management tools. I learned about visual merchandising, and how to put together promotional displays. I learned how yarn lines were launched and what knitters were likely to find difficult. Then, as in later years, I learned how collections were pulled together and how to pitch a design submission. I learned about design vocabulary, about colour profiles, and who did what in a yarn company (the differences between a Design Room Manager, a Brand Manager, and a Head Designer). Most importantly I met an awful lot of incredibly interesting and talented people – many of whom I am proud to call my friends.

And so today my thoughts turn towards the DCs who are now saying goodbye. I do not know what happened or why decisions were made – I just know that times are tough for some good friends. If you are in the UK and near a John Lewis, go and hug your DC. They are all brilliant and will go forth and do beautiful things – but they probably need a hug right now.

Yarn Shop Day, Knitting Retreats & Thank Yous

April 2015 287

I’m supposed to be enjoying a long bank holiday weekend, so this blog post will be short and sweet. All photos by Mr D. who has lately begun taking more abstract photos and I’m enjoying looking at the world through his eyes.

First, thank you to everybody who made the trek to the Fluph yarn shop in Dundee this past Saturday for Yarn Shop Day. I lost track of quite how many people dropped by but I loved saying hello to all (including the dogs that people so thoughtfully brought along). I also loved seeing all the knitwear on display – from a stunning Aidez cardigan to the most exquisite cobweb Shetland “wedding ring” shawl.

(Fluph-owner and all-round lovely person Leona also managed to squeeze an unorthodox interview out of me. It includes a question on Eurovision!)

April 2015 306aa

Later this month I am heading to Yorkshire for another knitting retreat (I’m combining it with seeing far-flung friends). However, I’ve had yet another jury citation – this is the third since November – so my retreat plans may be cut short. I love spending time in Yorkshire, I very rarely get to see these friends and the retreat location includes a short stroll to a delightful yarn shop, so fingers crossed everything works out. I know many of you wonder about knitting retreats – while you obviously have the option of arranging one for yourself, there are a few lovely ‘open’ retreats. Helen Lockhart of Ripples Crafts has been running a regular knitting retreat on Tanera Mor, an beautiful island off the Scottish North-West coast, and I know she is planning more retreats in the Scottish Highlands. You could also opt to spend time in the beautiful Welsh countryside together with Brenda Dayne (of Cast On podcast fame) and Felicity Ford at the Gwlana retreat. I am sure there are other retreats scattered around the British isles – do share your info in the comments section if you know of any!

April 2015 415

Finally, thank you for all your kind words about the passing of my art teacher. It was a hard post to write.

Happiness is a Warm Cardigan

Last week was warm enough that I could sit outside and work just wearing a t-shirt. This week we are back to sleet and snow. It’s Spring in Scotland. This is what we can expect (“if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes”). This morning the postman brought me my Scollay sample from the Knit Now office. What perfect timing. I am wearing it on top of a striped tunic, black tights and black shoes. It is perfect. Happiness is a warm cardigan.

April 2015 444

(pardon the poor selfie!)

I’ve spent some time thinking about cardigans lately. I tend to wear cardigans more often than jumpers, and I tend to wear the same two cardigans. What makes a good cardigan in my book?

  • Easy to wear. I have so many cardigans that only go with one outfit.
  • Easy fit. Fit is such an individual thing (and I’m going to write more about fit in the future), but I like cardigans that skim my figure rather than hug it tightly or hide it.
  • Right colours. My wardrobe tend towards deep jewel colours, navy blues, and greys. I need to remember this when choosing colours for cardigans rather than “challenge” myself to step outside my comfortzone.
  • Buttons. I love buttons and I love buttoned cardigans. Unbuttoned cardigans may look chic in photos but do not work for me.
  • Details over features. I like cardigans with clever little details rather than statement pieces with huge, eye-catching features. Hey, that’s probably my taste in all things summed up by one small sentence!
  • Truth to materials. This is an Arts & Crafts tenet that I’ve stolen, but it rings true to me. A good cardigan is knitted in a yarn that showcases the design and will last longer than me wearing the cardigan three times. I’ve learned this the hard way.
  • Long sleeves. I am always cold and short sleeves don’t work for me. I can embrace 3/4-length sleeves if for a trans-seasonal cardigan, but let’s face it, long sleeves are always better. It’s just a shame I don’t like knitting sleeves..

What do you like in your cardigans?

News, Actually.

Some proper news! After numerous prompts I have finally set up a newsletter which will be a monthly summary of what I have been doing, plans afoot and some exclusive previews of future designs. I always find it a struggle to keep everybody up-to-date with all the things that is happening (designs, visits, events etc) so I figure a newsletter is a great way to summarise everything in one fell swoop. You can subscribe to my newsletter below – know this: I’m the only one who has access to the mailing list; I will only send out one newsletter per month; and I am not going to sell any details to any third-party people.




And hey, the Scollay cardigan is now out in general release! Drumroll, please!

July 2014 1058

This was the first garment I ever designed and it was knitted in glorious New Lanark DK (spun just down the road from me at a UNESCO Heritage site!). The pattern comes in seven sizes (from extra-small to 3X) and is both charted and written-out. I know many of you loved Dave’s illustrations for my Doggerland collection and he’s drawn the schematics for this one too. It’s just such a nice, every-day cardigan and I love it to bits.

July 2014 1051

I am wearing the 1X size in the photos and I’m wearing it with no ease. I have included notes on sizing and modifications because I know some of you like a comfortable fit and other prefer a more fitted version. I’m rather short-waisted and the cardigan hits me below the hips, so I’ve also addressed the length of the cardigan in the notes. Customising fit is so important and I’m going to talk more about that later this year. Also, look out for a proper Scollay knit-along led by Louise Scollay of Knit British – yes, the cardigan was named for her!

Speaking of Louise and news, she’s got a podcast interview with me up on her blog. I was interviewed by her on the second day of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Let me know if you can tell when my morning caffeine kicks in! We discuss future plans (oh, I am spilling a lot of beans), my work/life balance and I’m asked some rather great questions.

Now I’m off to knit in the sunshine. I wound a skein of Triskelion Taliesin 4ply this afternoon in a gorgeous emerald. I bought it last year at Unwind Brighton. So many memories contained in a skein of yarn..

April 2015 257

Let It Go, Let It Go – On Stash Accumulation & Destashing

Disclaimer: I’ve not seen Disney’s Frozen but my local coffee pusher wears a necklace saying “Let It Go”, so I am sure that counts as pop-cultural immersion.

I opened the door to my stash cupboard this morning and my stomach clenched. I was looking at boxes upon boxes of yarn – and then various plastic bags stacked on top of the boxes or squished between them. I watched a loose ball from goodness-know-where slip down and head towards my feet. I was looking for a particular yarn but I did not know where to start – and I also realised that if I pulled out a box, the whole system* would collapse on top of my head.

(* I use this word loosely)

Yarn is all about beauty and story-telling for me. One of the many pleasure of my life in knitting is that I get to work with yarn that feels alive in my hands and connects me to its place of origin. But when I look at all the boxes, I don’t see stories waiting to be written or items waiting to get worn – I see fragments of who I used to be as a knitter.

Most of my yarn stash stems from when I rediscovered knitting. I would hit the sales with friends, score bargains on the internet, and pick up random balls of yarn whenever I visited a new LYS. Then I began working for a yarn company and I accumulated so much yarn – far more than I could actually managed to knit. I was lucky to have access to yarn – but I also ended up with a lot of summer yarns that don’t lend themselves to my lifestyle. I live in Scotland and, crucially, I am always cold. Even though that cotton/silk yarn looks and feels amazing, I think it’s time I admitted to myself that I’m probably never going to make that casual summer cardigan.

Nowadays I work as an independent knitting designer. This change in environment means that I no longer think of yarn as something to be stashed: I have work yarn and work yarn makes me happy. I am lucky enough to work with yarns that I feel truly passionate about and I do not put those yarns into my yarn stash. Work yarn goes into the box next to my favourite arm chair and each yarn is assigned to a specific project. When I work on future projects, I derive great pleasure from researching yarns and finding the right one for the specific job. Occasionally I will have the right yarn in the stash – but I will know exactly where to find it because it was always destined for one specific design.

I’ve changed the way I think about yarn, in other words. It is time for a destash and luckily this urge coincides with my knitting group’s annual destash evening. I think I am about to shock my friends. Let it go, let it goooo…