Hey! It's a Doggerland KAL with Prizes!

March 2013 443We only have two Doggerland patterns left to go, so while I get those ready, I thought it would be fun to set up a Doggerland KAL in my Ravelry group. We've been having a sort of unofficial-official KAL since the first pattern was released, but I thought it'd be fun to add prizes to the unofficial-official KAL (thus making it an official-official KAL?). I just confused myself.

The basics: Knit a Doggerland project, post a photo in the official Doggerland KAL thread, and you can win yourself a yarny prize! On April 15, 2014, I'll draw random names and THREE lucky people will win prizes.

More basics: For every finished project, you get ONE token. The official KAL tag is "DoggerlandKAL". You can enter as many times as you'd like.

The relevant patterns are all from the Doggerland collection - they are available individually as well as a collection. You have the choice of Ronaes, Hoxne, Gillean Hat, Gillean Wristies, Ythan and Vedbaek. Any additional Doggerland patterns released before April 15, 2014 are also eligible.

Please note: if you have knitted any of the patterns knitted above - please post a photo of your finished object on the thread and tag your project. You can enter as many projects as you'd like into this KAL contest. I'll draw names at random - winner A, winner B and winner C.

June2013 019Which brings me to the fun bit. The prizes! I did think about sourcing Mesolithic lithics (worked pieces of flint) but I wasn't too sure about the ethics of removing pieces from public access. Also, I think you knitters prefer yarn. Right? Right.


Winner A will win a skein of Snældan 2ply from The Island Wool Company. Seriously gorgeous yarn - it is one of my favourites - and once you start knitting with it, you won't believe the drape or feel.

Winner B will win a skein of Håndværker yarn from Hjeltholt Yarns, an artisan Danish yarn spinning mill dating back to 1878. It is the type of yarn I just love: full of depth and texture. Håndværker yarn is currently only available to a select few Scandinavian retailers, so it's a rare chance to get your hands on proper heritage artisan yarn. (I cannot believe I'm letting this go)

Winner C will win a £15 gift certificate to Old Maiden Aunt yarns. One of the best UK hand-dyers and a gift certificate means you get to choose your own favourite yarn base and colour!

Recap: Knit a Doggerland project, post a photo in the official Doggerland KAL thread, and you can win yourself a yarny prize!

For the Love of Indie Dyers

ECY2014 A big thank you to Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns for sending me this sneak peek of her new yarn, Milburn 4ply. It arrived last week and it brightened up the day. I am yet to wind any of the skeins and swatch, but I have played with colourwork patterns in my head. That oatmeal/grey colour is particularly speaking to me - I am going through a bit of a neutral phase - and I love how the other colours sing to each other. Designing a palette is always hard (every colour needs to be distinct but still play well with the others) but Vicki has pulled it off.

The UK has some of the most amazing indie dyers and I feel so fortunate that I have ready access to names like Vicki, Skein Queen (new website!), Juno Fibre Arts, Lioness Yarns, Kettle Yarn Co., Triskelion Yarns, and The Knitting Goddess. Yarn is shipped quickly and I get to see them 'live' at the various shows. Scotland is particularly strong on indie dyers: I'm a huge fan of  Old Maiden Aunt; RipplesCrafts' amazing colours are pulled from her Highland surroundings, and The Yarn Yard is well-established as a go-to dyer for sock lovers.

One of the many things I really appreciate about many UK dyers is their commitment to offering a variety of bases - many of which are UK-specific breeds. Sourcing the right bases is one of the hardest thing for an indie dyer (followed closely by being able to source enough for a sustainable business) but so many of them are now selling yarns that are so much more than just a merino or a wool/nylon mix. They are showing a real commitment to showcasing the best of British fibre - and I think this is something we should celebrate. They are small, local businesses, they are supporting other small, local businesses and knitters get to discover what makes Polwarth wool different from Corridale wool, say. Win-win for all concerned.

Louise Scollay of KnitBritish recently wrote about the Dos and Donts of Knitting Locally. It is a wonderful post which pokes holes in a lot of myths surrounding knitting locally. It does not have to be more expensive, nor is it more difficult to care for. Being thoughtful about your yarn choices is maybe something to requires a bit more mindfulness (especially next time you are in a yarn shop and are overcome with omg, all the yarn!) but it is doable and rewarding.

I'd love to see a big collaboration between indie dyers and local designers. I try to work with as many indie dyers as I can, but I am just one person. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see a plethora of the best UK indie designers collaborating with the best UK indie dyers? How do you as a knitter feel about this? What would you love to see happening within the UK indie community? And who are your favourite dyers? I know there are some dyers I am yet to discover!

Sorting the Stash

In the interest of showing you that a) I am not a domestic goddess and b) I have hoarder tendencies when it comes to yarn and books, I took this photo in the middle of tidying the living room.

Sorting the StashPictured: two hours of sorting my stash (about one-fifth of my stash is visible), two woollie horses, a felting project, a dressmaking project, and about one-third of our books.

The stash looks pretty bad in the photo, but it'll look a lot better soon. My biggest downfall is that I have no designated space for things. I would love to have my own studio space with designated storage space and some book shelves just for yarn/craft-related books. Right now I make due carving out an office space in the kitchen and a working space in the living room. It is far from ideal as I spend too much time hunting for specific balls of yarn and needles - but it's better than if I had still been living in my flat in Copenhagen which was oh.so.tiny compared to my Glasgow home. I just keep moving boxes around the house and it gets frustrating at times.

I sort by stash by amounts & weights, to a certain degree. Sweater amounts are kept together, laceweights live together in two boxes, and I keep my odd balls in three containers so I can dip into them for swatching/accessory-making purposes. The Doggerland yarns are also kept together. Lately I have become tough on small oddments of yarn. I used to keep them, but I have begun to realise that it's better for my sanity (and storage facilities) if I let them go.

Quite apart from the massive amounts of yarn in Casa Bookish, I actually struggle most keeping all my notions and needles organised. Yarn is relatively easy, but how do I organise buttons, sewing needles, threads, gauge measures, cable needles, stitch holders, safety pins etc? My knitting needles are currently all jumbled up in boxes - I know some people have beautifully organised needles with plastic pockets, folders and what not. That's never worked too well for me.

Anyway, another couple of hours and the stash will be beautifully organised once more. It's always darkest before the dawn, mm? Oh, and here's a little something I'm working on in Snældan 2ply (NOM).

Snældan PreviewThe mysterious project is resting on top of my Bute cardigan which now only needs one sleeve and a buttonband before it's ready to go. And I might write more about the Snældan project in my next Doggerland post. I've made some decisions. But first I have tidying & organising to do.

(I really want to tackle those gorram book shelves too. I used to have my books alphabetised by author (then under author by publication date) but somebody in this house doesn't believe in that system.. )

Denmark 2012: A Bit of History & A Lot of Knitting (part 3)

Photo Shoot Feb 2012Denmark was not just us larking about Viking settlements or eating six types of pork for lunch (true fact!). Denmark was also about knitting. I had a photo shoot! I am about to release a new pattern - Elsinore - and we had the photo shoot in the middle of the Kastellet fortifications in northern Copenhagen.

It was an incredible cold day, so whenever there was a break in the shoot, I rushed forth to wrap a warm cardigan around the brave model. The photos turned out amazing. Stay tuned!

I also met up with Signest, aka Signe Simonsen who has been published in Knitty, Twist Collective and Petite Purls among other places. She is one of my favourite designers for innovative, colourful and bold childrenswear (check ouWrapped In Wordst the Nova dress and the Viola hat!) but Signe has several, several strings to her bow as you are sure to find out in months to come. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at a design she is currently working on for Danish yarn company Filcolana.

And Signe's also the genius behind my current favourite attire, the I YARN CPH tee. Sorry about the photo - it is not the most flattering one of me but it is the only one I have of me wearing the tee.

Yes, I rather liked Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book. Why do you ask?

Oh, and there was yarn. Nothing really, really fascinating because I only had a few hours to spare so I could not explore new yarns, but I did buy a vast amount of yarn: mainly laceweight - which shocks no one - and mainly of the North Atlantic variety - which should shock absolutely no one either.

My usual Snældan yarn pusher had shut down since my last visit to Copenhagen, so I 'settled' for some more Navia Uno from Jorun Garn in Frederiksberg. They have similar fiber content (though the Navia introduces some merino into the blend) but the construction is slightly different. The Snældan is a slightly overspun  single ply whereas Navia Uno is plied with a tightly spun 'thread' around a soft wool core. Navia Uno works up slightly softer than Snældan but has a smidgen less stitch definition. In other words, I should not be writing about 'settling' for anything as the two yarns are so similar and so beautiful. I am just concerned about minutiae.

Alt Om HåndarbejdeAnd then I visited a charity shop where I uncovered a pile of Alt om Håndarbejde (eng: All About Crafts) magazines from the 1970s.

Alt om was really instrumental in kickstarting my lifelong love of all things crafty and I remember trying out loads of their easy kids' projects when I was a kid. I even think the first garment I ever made for myself (a pair of shorts!) was from an Alt om pattern.

Some of the projects are just outlandish seen with today's eyes but others transcend their time period with aplomb. I only took some of the magazines with me (the rest are staying with my mum until further notice) but I picked a few with fantastic sewing patterns for dresses and skirts. I don't think I shall ever outgrow my 1970s dress sense..Alt Om Håndarbejde

There are also quite a few big knitting projects that I can admire knowing I will never ever knit them. Just look at that coat. It is absolutely stunning. I have instructed my grandmother to snap up any old Alt Om that she might come across as the tutorials are worth their weight in gold.

I tried finding Alt Om's modern incarnation - the rather splendid Symagasinet which is all about sewing - but the local shops let me down. Earlier this year I also contacted the publisher about a possible subscription but the shipping costs were ridiculous, so I dropped that idea. Oh, Scandinavia, why do you taunt me so?

Anyway. To come: a brand-new pattern release, news about other patterns, some FOs and so forth. My life's really busy right now!

Exciting News

May 2011 077A sneak preview of a new Old Maiden Aunt yarn which is set to launch this summer. Oooh. Lilith handed me two skeins yesterday and I am under oath to not breathe a word about this new yarn to anyone. Okay, I can tell you this much: it is 4ply and the colour shown is called 'ghillie dhu' (it's part of her brand-new colour collection).

I can also reveal that I've been asked to design specifically for this yarn and that you'll be able to purchase the new yarn line with accompanying pattern support at this year's Knit Nation.

As far as everything else happening with Lilith, Old Maiden Aunt and Knit Nation .. well, I'm sworn to secrecy (but it's really cool stuff). I've been asked if I'm going to Knit Nation this year, but sadly I have prior engagements. I nearly did accept an invitation to do some work there but .. annoyingly I had to be a proper grown-up with a "I have already agreed to do something else, sorry". Sigh.

If you're going to be in London for Knit Nation, please do visit Lilith's stall and say hi. Also do a trip on the London Eye for me because I'm so scared of heights I need someone to do it on my behalf.

It's Complicated

PatsyIn August last year I began knitting Patsy (or "Lumley" as I call it) by Kim Hargreaves. It's now April and I am still not sure what I am going to do.

It's complicated.

I chose the pattern because I knew it would flatter my body type: a deep-V neckline and an emphasis on shoulders and waist are textbook examples of what someone with an hourglass figure should wear. I also liked the vintage feel to the design and knew if I lengthened the sleeves a smidgen, I'd live in this cardigan.

I hedged my bets and substituted the suggested Felted Tweed with Baby Alpaca DK (so if anything went wrong, I could knit up another design from Kim's book). The Baby Alpaca turned out to be a very, very good idea. It knits up beautifully but I had no idea just how magical it would become post-blocking. I'm getting ahead of myself here, but keep this in mind: the yarn substitution plays no part in why I am writing this post.

I began knitting the cardigan having swatched like a good girl. The back knitted up in no time. I was pretty happy. I began the front. Things fell apart (the center could not hold; mere anarchy was loosened upon the world - hello Yeats). I wrote up a spread-sheet to keep track of the pattern. The fronts looked pretty and also pretty small. I had also reached mid-November at this stage and my mojo was gone. Forcing myself onwards, I finished the sleeves in early January and did a quick crocheting-together of the body so I could see what it all looked like and maybe regenerate some of my mojo.

Mere anarchy was indeed loosened upon the world. Textbook examples for the hourglass body had combined into possibly the least flattering garment in the world. The fronts did not swooped gracefully down my bust: they flapped around the outer realms of my general bust area. The back looked absolutely brilliant and the shoulder area looked great. But those fronts..

.. so I put Lumley back into my knitting basket. I pulled it out again last week, undid the crocheted seams and blocked the easter bunny out of the pieces. As previously stated, the Baby Alpaca just turned into the most amazing fabric. Wow. Seriously, WOW. So I adjusted my hopes and fears for Lumley. I sewed it all up like a proper knitter. And finished sewing in the last sleeve at my knitting group.

The response could not have been clearer. "Uhm," said Paula, "I can see why you were .. ambivalent." Meanwhile Lilith tried to channel a Middle Eastern diplomat: ".. maybe if you wore it open..?"

I still haven't sewn in the collar nor have I woven in ends.


  • The shoulder and upper-arm areas fit like a glove. Without doubt the best fitting garment I have ever made as far as those areas are concerned.
  • I love the fabric (you weren't in doubt, were you?). It is soft, drapey, beautiful, silky, smooth.. wow.
  • The colour is great as is the vintage feel. Lumley fits right into my wardrobe.
  • And I have perfect buttons waiting to be sewn on.


  • Nobody above an A-cup should wear this garment (or B-cup if you are super-willowy). I am very much not an A-cup nor am I willowy.
  • The lower part of the sleeves look very odd (presumably because I lengthened the sleeves). In fact, they look like chicken cutlets swaying in the wind.

It's complicated. It really is.

I am so tempted to just stitch that collar in place, weave in the ends, sew on the buttons and call it a day. Maybe sew & cut the offending chicken cutlets from the sleeves if I'm feeling particularly grumpy. I have spent so much time and gone to such lengths with Lumley that I just want the cardigan finished. FINISHED AND OUT OF MY KNITTING BASKET.

But it'd be a waste of good yarn, wouldn't it? Oh, I could think of other projects in which it would be so delightful and useful..

Oh, Lumley. "That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all."