10 Mar 2016

The future of colour

Have you ever wondered how the colour of yarn in your local yarn store gradually shifts from season to season, the bright blue of several years ago now nowhere in sight? Well it's all to do with colour forecasting. 

The photo above, for example, shows a menswear forecast which was put out several years ago for the season we are in now, Autumn/Winter 2015-2016. In this, we see a slightly improbable mix of bright colours contrasting with greys and browns.

And here are the colours that we finally saw in the shops - significantly toned down, but still recognisable as deriving from the earlier predictions.

So the colour combinations that we see now start life at least two or three years earlier. Colour forecasting companies, yarn manufacturers and fashion designers meet at events such as Pitti Filati in Florence several years before the start of the season and discuss how the mood of fashion is evolving. Are things becoming more upbeat and flashy, or is there a movement towards a calmer pace of life and softer shades?

The feedback and reactions from these trade shows gradually leads to a consensus on colour choices. Sometimes these can be wildly different from previous years, but usually they are just subtle shifts in tone so that you can add "this year's colour" to pep up your favourite item from the previous year. 

Let's look at grey for example. The photo above shows Pantone #16-1107 "Aluminum" (or as I would say it, Aluminium - oh what a difference an extra "i" can make!) This was a key colour for the Fall/Winter 2014/2015 season and worked well with one of the major themes for that year, "Masculine Pieces". It was a steel grey shade but with a warm mid-tone giving it a feeling of restraint and calm.

And here is the grey shade one year later on: Pantone #18-4214 "Stormy Weather", an altogether harder, bluer tint. As it says on the Pantone forecast, this is reminiscent of the sky on a grey, overcast day - cool, constant, dependable, powerful.

Textile manufacturers, yarn companies and fashion designers draw on these colour influences for their inspiration as they plan ahead. Then over the next few months, 6 or 8 "themes" start to consolidate for each season. Shortly afterwards, we start to see magazine photos and catwalk shows for the coming season, and the local yarn stores have similar colours so you can make matching items. Magic!

So I am going to start a blog series all about different seasonal colours with ideas for updating your colours along with the fashion forecasters. In the next blogpost, I'll be featuring a pair of socks using a lovely grey-mix yarn that will be perfect for that "Stormy Weather" look.

Until then - Happy Knitting!


. 10/3/16

25 Feb 2016

Love fishing for patterns

We are so lucky as knitters these days to have a vast range of resources available to us, and so many ways to find new patterns and ideas. I have recently started selling my patterns in two new pattern outlets and wanted to add a note here in case anyone has not yet explored what they have to offer.

The first of these is LoveKnitting, which was started only a few years back in London. I remember meeting the team at the Knitting and Stitching show at Allie Pallie (Alexandra Palace) when they were first launching their company and was immediately impressed with their drive, enthusiasm and customer focus.

What is especially good at LoveKnitting is that you can not only purchase patterns, but also the yarn, needles, buttons and other accessories you might need to complete your project. This is great if you want to start your project straight away with all the items you need, or if you want to put a complete kit together as a gift for a fellow knitter.

Click this link to see all my patterns on the LoveKnitting site.

The second shop is Patternfish - a veritable treasure trove of patterns for knitting, crochet and weaving. It prides itself on being completely advertising free and just concentrates on patterns - all 21,453 of them as of today's date! You can also sign up for their monthly Newsletter which always includes some interesting features and pattern selections. 

One of the things that I especially like about Patternfish is that you can add filters to search for items that will really suit you. So if you wish to make an item for your home using worsted weight yarn, then after just a few clicks you will see all the patterns that fit those criteria. Or if you like one of the designer's patterns then you can follow the link to see all of their offerings. Simple, neat, clean, easy.

I hope you enjoy exploring these additional pattern resources when you are looking for your next designs,

Happy Knitting!


. 14/3/16

15 Feb 2016

The iBookstore is open!

I'm pleased to announce that my iBookstore is open with - wait for it, wait for it - one pattern so far! Well you have to start somewhere don't you. This has been a fun expansion of my current pattern outlets and I am hoping to have more patterns uploaded there soon. 

The advantage of an iBook is that is an excellent format for hand-held devices such as iPads and iPhones. Traditional patterns are great when they are viewed on a full-size computer screen or if they are printed out. However, they can be a touch difficult to see on hand-held devices with small screens.

Having a book designed for a landscape iBook format gives the best readability for iPads and smaller units, so you don't have to spend time expanding and manipulating views to read the next part of the pattern.

Another advantage of the iBook format is that you can quickly navigate to the section you want: Go to the point where you left it last... Quickly find what yarn you need while you are at the yarn store... Check an abbreviation... Add a note or highlight something... All very easy.

So if you have any kind of Apple device, you can download the iBooks app (if it isn't already pre-installed) and then choose to read your next pattern as an iBook instead of a standard pdf.

To find the Ryedale Bracelet iBook, open my website page and click the black iBookstore button at the bottom of the page. That will take you to the pattern page. 

Alternatively, you can go directly to the iBooks app. Click on the Store link and then enter Ryedale Bracelet into the search box. It should come straight up and you can download a free sample or the full iBook.

I am investigating to see if it is possible to make patterns for other devices such as Kindle etc and will hope to be adding more iBooks to the iBookstore soon. I'll add some notes here as more patterns go live.

Happy Knitting!


. 3/3/16

30 Jan 2016

New pattern - Okehampton Tie


Knitted ties have a special place in a man's wardrobe. They fill the void when the invitation states "business casual" yet you wish to wear a tie. A knitted tie adds a dash of panache, an updated fashion edge that a simple open-necked shirt does not provide. 

And what do you do if you are not sure of the dress code for an event? You don't want to be the only person without a silk tie or the only one with one! A knitted tie bridges this divide. It can gently tone down a crisp work-day shirt but also sharpens up a more casual one so that you hit just the right note for the occasion.

There is another advantage of a knitted tie. In keeping with its more informal nature, you can now select a completely different shirt for informal events than you would for your next Board meeting. It can be in a stronger colour or with a pattern that you wouldn't normally consider for the working day. The collar can be a little deeper or it could sport a modern silver collar pin to match your cufflinks.

The Okehampton Tie pictured here is perfect for these occasions and features a strong graphic pattern that shows well on both the tie and the knot. It is worked in a crisp cotton/linen DK yarn, KnitPicks Cotlin, which holds its shape well.

The tie is designed with a bottle-neck shaping which gives a small, neat knot. This is important for a knitted tie since they are usually a little bulkier than a standard tie. Here, the shaping reduces the bulk of the tie so lends itself to several different knots. The usual knot for a knitted tie is the simple Four-in-hand knot that you learnt at school. That one is easy to work and gives a good finish, as you can see in the photo above.

However, how about trying a Pratt-Shelby knot? That is featured on the blue denim shirt in the previous photo and gives a very stylish symmetrical knot with a pronounced central dimple.

Another great thing about a knitted tie is that you can choose to make them in a wide range of colours. The green one above would be perfect for a country look, but you could go bolder for the summer and select yellow, orange or a bright sky-blue to accompany your Chinos. In the winter you could opt for deeper colours and make several in a navy blue, maroon, charcoal or black. Or theme your tie for your next event, such as a bright green one for a St Patrick's Day gathering.

And knitted ties are not just for men! Designers routinely feature them in their collections both for men and for women seeking a masculine look. 

The Okehampton Tie pattern is available for instant download from my website, and is also available from Craftsy, Etsy and Ravelry.

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: The frosty side of cool

. 1/3/16

25 Jan 2016

The frosty side of cool

Charles Dickens had it about right when he wrote about an old porter at the end of a long winter's day: 

"Toby's nose was very red, and his eye-lids were very red, and he winked very much, and his shoulders were very near his ears and his legs were very stiff, and altogether he was evidently a long way upon the frosty side of cool."
"The Chimes", 1844.

Oh yes, it's cold right now. Snow-drifts, howling gales, sharp northerly winds - brrrr. We even had frosts down in Florida this morning. However, ever an optimist, I can see that the official start of Spring in less than 2 months away! It's hard to believe, isn't it? The months go by faster every year. 

So I have been enjoying working with some cotton yarns and there are a number of projects on my needles right now in lovely soft cottons. I have just finished a few men's ties in KnitPicks Cotlin yarn, a crisp cotton/linen mix, and a bathmat in DMC Natura XL chunky cotton, which is pictured at the top of this blogpost. I have to say the bathmat has already been pressed into service to keep my toes from contacting chilly tiled floors.

I also have some placemats started in Rowan Denim yarn and a little girls' dress planned too. I am certainly living up to my blogpost where I suggested starting several projects at once! My yarn drying racks are filled with cotton yarns in varying stages of washing and drying and I have a pleasingly large number of skeins waiting to be wound back into balls again. 

I hope everyone is keeping warm, and finding enough projects to do in front of a cozy fire. Perhaps think towards Spring and start swatching the cotton yarns in your stash.

Happy Knitting!


Thanks to my DH Tim for his photo of the DMC Natura XL yarn. 
For more of Tim's photos please see his Flickr Site.

Last Blogpost: Without the Ocean

13 Jan 2016

Without the Ocean

It is amazing how different a pattern can look when you work it with a different colour, an alternative yarn or with slightly larger or smaller needles. Here's a recent example of a multi-coloured pattern being worked in a single natural colour and looking completely different from the original.

This is the Ocean Currents Blanket pattern I was writing about a few weeks ago, but this time without the ocean!

I have recently been knitting a few projects with Cascade "EcoCloud" which is a gorgeously soft merino / alpaca mix with a very interesting chainette structure. The yarn is, in effect, like a slim i-Cord and really holds the heat well. Between the two ultra-soft fibres in the blend and the airy-ness of the structure, it is super cozy in use. 

I had a ball of the Cream colour left over after I had finished a little baby jacket and have just worked up a swatch using the Ocean Currents Blanket pattern. The result is a lovely retro sampler effect which really highlights the different patterns used in the design. The yarn shows the stitches well and I think a blanket or throw worked in this colourway would be perfect to add an extra layer to a chilly bedroom.

Here's a photo of the yarn from the PurlSoho website where you can also see the other natural colours in the range. The yarn is 150m/164 yds:100gm ball, so is a little thicker than the one suggested in the pattern. I worked the sample on one size larger needles to compensate for this and to maintain the open feel of the fabric and it worked out beautifully.

OK, who has some good offers on Cascade yarns right now..? I feel a creamy blanket moment coming on!

You can see me knitting the original Ocean Currents Blanket in this blogpost, and read more about the knitting pattern here and here.

Happy Knitting!


. 25/1/16

6 Jan 2016

Roc-ing into 2016

I always love this time of the year. It's cool outside and the garden is sleeping. The leaves are cleared, the bushes are trimmed and fragile plants are bedded down with straw for the winter. Even the frenetic build-up to the holiday season has ended and everyone is feeling well-fed and ready for a change of pace.

And I find, year after year, that this is the time I turn my attention to dyeing and spinning. It just seems to come naturally with the change to the New Year. And I'm not alone, for across many countries today is celebrated as a special day for spinners. It's called Roc Day or St Distaff's Day and happens the day after Twelfth Night. 

Back in the day when spinning was a long and arduous daily toil for many women, it would be understandable if they might have a bit reluctant to return to their tasks. However, it was made considerably more pleasant by celebrating with other villagers for one final day of merriment before the real work started again.

If you fancy celebrating Roc Day this year, then check your local paper as a number of local spinning groups have events planned for the weekend. And even if you're not a spinner you can join in the fun by knitting a project using hand-spun yarn from your local yarn store or Farmers' Market.

I have a number of patterns that can be worked with hand-spun yarn:

At the top left there's the Henley Blanket in a two-tone blue and purple combination. The photo at the top right shows a scarf, the Sawston Infinity Scarf, which is worked in a beautifully soft Blue-Faced Leicester yarn. If you have never tried this fibre then see if you can find some soon - it may be the softest wool you have ever worked with.

The centre photos show the Rare Earth Rug and Rare Earth Cushions which use natural coloured yarns. 

And lastly, the Ocean Currents Blanket that I featured in my last blogpost is shown alongside a co-ordinating rug, the Ocean Currents Rug

Of course, you can choose to use hand-spun yarn for any knitting pattern if you have the right weight of yarn for the pattern - feel free to experiment!

Until next time, enjoy your spinning, knitting and merry-making,


Last Blogpost: Keep warm this winter
Next Up: Without the Ocean



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