28 Oct 2017

It's knitting time

I love our itinerant lifestyle - always on the move, never staying still for long. Recently our travels took us through the mountains of North Carolina, a place that is very dear to our hearts. It was the first state we lived in when we moved to the USA and it still feels like home in many ways. 

One thing that still strikes us afresh each time we visit though is the quality of the light. The air seems clearer here, the skies more blue, the colours more intense.

So it was that one early morning saw me sitting on a sun-warmed rock by the side of the Blue Ridge Parkway. My husband Tim was at the far-side of the area taking photos of the hazy distant views. Three birds were calling to each other, first one in the tree near me then two replies from further away. 

Everywhere was still and calm. A thin column of steam rose from the valley floor into the air and the mists moved lazily in the dips and hollows between the lower hills.

A slightly chilly breeze reminded me that we were at 5000' and I wrapped my scarf a little tighter around my neck to keep warm. 

The wind was not uncomfortably cold but it did serve as a timely reminder that autumn is upon us and the snow will not be far behind. You could feel it in the air that morning as clearly as if another few pages of the calendar had just turned over all at once. 

I looked down at my knitting, which had been sitting idly in my hands while I gazed at the scene and started the next row with a renewed sense of purpose.

It's knitting time...

Happy autumn knitting!


Many thanks to Tim to his great photos. If you would like to see more of his work, these please visit his site.

Last Blogpost: Hot off the press!

Our Book: Reversible Knitting Stitches
Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 28/10/17

10 Oct 2017

Hot off the press!

Gosh, I can't believe it, but I actually have the proof copy of our new book Reversible Knitting Stitches right here on the desk next to me! I have to say both Anna are I are so excited to see this in print and we have both been so encouraged to read all the messages everyone has been sending us about the book. 

It has certainly been a long process getting this into print with so many new things to learn. At times I was sure I could hear a whooshing sound as yet another new concept went flying over my head!

The first sentence of the printer's instructions which mentioned vector diagrams, CMYK colour rendition and PDFX1a files was one of those moments, I have to say. I didn't even know what vector diagrams were until that point. Oh you don't either? Oh good, that makes me feel tonnes better.

As I discovered, they're the difference between seeing a fuzzy picture like the one on the left and a crisp clear one as on the right. Well, I'm pleased to say that now I have drawn up more than 250 vector diagrams for stitch charts and keys I can certainly understand the distinction!

Still, printer's lingo, paper choices and all other decisions are made and we're good to go! We hope to have the print run scheduled shortly and then we should have the first copies in our hands a week or so after that.

The books are being printed in Cambridgeshire so we should be able to fulfill UK and European orders fairly quickly. There will be a short extra delay until the US boxes arrive, but as soon as those arrive in the States then I will be able to get those mailed out. 

I have an e-mail list of people who want me to notify them as soon as the books are ready to ship, so please feel free to contact me if you'd like to be added to the list. 

I'll post here again once we have opened up the pre-order page, and until then,

Happy Reversible Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Two new beanie hats!

Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 1/11/17

26 Sep 2017

Two new beanie hats!

We had our first Frost Warning yesterday, prefacing the inexorable slide into winter here in Massachusetts. I don’t know why it always comes as a surprise but every year there seems to be one week when we have the air conditioning running and then the next we are wondering whether we should put the heating on! 

Mind you, it is quite clear that the colder weather is coming — the squirrels and chipmunks are dashing around as though this might be the last day they can gather acorns and fruit without burrowing under the snow, and any strong breeze is accompanied by an absolute confetti shower of yellow leaves.

Well, it might be chilly outside but Autumn always gives me a renewed sense of purpose. After all, the items I am knitting now will be keeping somebody warm in just a few days’ time!

I have been knitting hats recently and have two new styles that I have just uploaded to my pattern collection. The first of these is the Northstowe Beanie Hat. This is a man’s beanie-style hat with a wonderfully rugged outdoor look. It features strong textural details, with a wide rib pattern intersected by narrow garter stitch bands.

The pattern includes three sizes, from Medium to Extra Large, and the samples I have worked are in a fashion-forward graphite colour or a rich blue to team with jeans. I have used the Socks Yeah DK yarn I discovered on my recent UK trip for this hat, but any similar DK yarn could be used instead. The hats are worked with two strands of yarn held together and this really gives a chill-beating finish.

The 2nd hat is a ladies’ beanie, the Madingley Beanie Hat. This has extra textural detailing with a wonderful double-banded rib patternThis is a variation of Hatfield Check from our E-Book, Reversible Knitting Stitches and I will be posting some more info about the print version of this book next time!

The hat has a lovely comfortable fit and the stitch pattern gives it that extra feminine touch. It would be perfect for your morning commute to the office or to college, but would also be great for a long country walk kicking up the autumn leaves.

The Madingley Beanie pattern also includes three sizes, and I have worked the samples in a gorgeous silvery grey shade and a turquoise — which I see from the Fall catwalk shows is this year’s go-to colour!

The Northstowe and Madingley hats co-ordinate very well with each other so if you fancy a stroll in the woods with your loved one by your side, then you can both wear your new hats and look the loving couple that you are. He could also wear the Teversham Cowl that I wrote about last time as it is worked in the same yarn.

To see more details about these new designs, please see my website. The download link includes both hats as stand-alone patterns so you can work on just one hat or both as you prefer.

I am enjoying working on this mix-and-match set of items and have plans for some scarves next. I haven’t started those yet but will post here when I have them ready. For more details about all the patterns in this collection please see my website.

Until next time - Keep Warm!


Anna’s Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 26/9/17

15 Aug 2017

Teversham Cowl and Headwarmer

It's great when serendipity changes your plans, at least where knitting is concerned. In my last blogpost I was recounting the story of what happens when you discover a new wool shop with a treasure trove of yarns. That was how I discovered a new-to-me merino-mix yarn in a lovely colour pallette, Socks Yeah DK. I was especially taken with the combination of a soft graphite colour and a lighter silver grey. 

I walked around the store for a while with a skein of both in my hands and then decided it was perfect for a man's cowl. Later on I decided that I should have purchased more as it proved so good I wanted to make a ladies' headwarmer too, as a mix-and-match set.

I remember reading a newspaper article earlier this year about a Japanese couple who like to wear co-ordinating clothes and accessories every day and have done so for 37 years! However, they are not alone. Many young couples in Korea and Japan like to demonstrate their love by couple-dressing. Indeed, sometimes it has even become a subtle way of announcing that they are actually now a couple - much like the wonderful "in a relationship" announcement on Facebook. 

So I decided that I would make some mix-and-match sets for both men and women and here is the first of these: the Teversham Cowl and Headwarmer.

Men's cowls are hot fashion items right now - understandably since they are so easy to put on and provide instant warmth just where you need it. Cowls are great for stopping those chilly draughts that seem to find the gap at the back of your collar or that annoying cold spot where your jacket doesn't quite close at the front. 

They are so easy to slip on, don't flap around like a scarf does when you are cycling, and are small enough to stuff into a shoulder bag when you get to the other end of your journey. Just perfect for these end-of-season days when a small change in the wind direction can take the temperature down 20 degrees.

The Teversham Cowl uses a reversible stitch from our e-book Reversible Knitting Stitches and this gives this cowl another great advantage - you don't have to be especially careful when putting it on since both sides look good.

I loved the way the colours worked for the cowl and was quite sad when I finished it so quickly. So I immediately cast-on a smaller number of stitches and made a matching headwarmer. Gosh this is cozy! I always find my ears are the first things that get cold in the autumn and this headwarmer works perfectly to give that lovely extra feeling of warmth around the head without the bulk of a full knitted hat.

If you are lucky enough to have long hair then you'll also appreciate the open top so you don't smush your hair-style while wearing this. I used to love having long hair and still remember the joy of finding head-gear that worked well with pony-tails and plaits.

So here's the first of these couple sets - a gorgeous fashion-forward men's cowl and a cozy ladies' headwarmer. I suppose there might even be a few ladies who would like to wear the cowl themselves, but I won't tell if you don't!

To see more details about the Teversham Cowl and Headwarmer knitting pattern, please click here. The pattern is available in both UK and US formats for printing onto A4 or letter-sized paper or can be viewed on your computer, tablet or phone.

Next time, a set of hats for him, her or them.

Until then - keep warm!


Last Blogpost: Daughter to the rescue
Next Up: Two new beanie hats!

Our new E-Book: Reversible Knitting Stitches

My Website: www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com
Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 4/10/17

20 Jul 2017

Daughter to the rescue

I am currently listening to an audiobook by Elizabeth Peters in which the redoubtable lady Egyptologist Amelia Peabody Emerson frequently says "I am the most fortunate of women!" 

Well, I suppose that could be my catch-phrase too. In my last blogpost, I recounted the sorry tale of what happens when a full cup of airline tea soaks into a large amount of cotton-yak yarn. The result, I am sure you can imagine, was not pleasant. 

Under normal circumstances this could have induced a degree of panic - arriving at the start of a long visit with no knitting on hand... However, our first port of call on arriving in the UK was to our daughter, Anna, and she is blessed with a wide and varied yarn stash, filling not just a few boxes but a whole room! 

She listened to my tale of woe and supplied the two things I needed - a fresh cup of tea (I had, after all, spilled the last one!), and a pointer as to where I might find some suitable replacement yarn amongst all her baskets and boxes. I settled on a beautiful combination of greys and by the afternoon was happily swatching for a cowl.

We then went down to a knitting store in Faversham, Kent to purchase some additional supplies. Neither of us had been to this shop before but it was an absolute treasure. 

The store is called The Yarn Dispensary and is right in the middle of this beautiful old town. They were kind enough to allow my husband to take some photos in the store so you can see what a great selection of yarn they have. The building dates from the 13C and used to be an old pharmacy. Now instead of liver pills they dispense yarn therapy! 

The central square of the town is used for a thriving market under the famous Guildhall building, and there are many other wonderful old houses in the area such as the one above which is just around the corner.

The yarn I settled on was a beautiful merino mix from CoopKnits, called Socks Yeah DK and it is a dream to work with. In fact I loved it so much that when I returned to the USA, I ordered some more and am now happily knitting up a storm with this fabulously cozy yarn.

I'll post some information about the first few items from this yarn next time.

And if you'd like to see some of the wonderful items Anna makes with her room-full of yarn, then head over to her new website, www.kikuknits.com.

Until next time - Happy Knitting!


Anna's website: www.kikuknits.com

Many thanks again to Tim for his great photos. See more on his Flickr site here.

. 16/9/17

13 Jul 2017

Trays tables, wet yarn and difficult decisions

I was faced with a difficult decision recently - shall I allow some scalding-hot tea go over my legs or soak my yarn instead... OK, only a knitter would see that as even a remotely sensible choice to be made, but when you're only one hour into a long international flight it seemed logical at the time.

We were on one of these new Dreamliner planes and had read ahead of time about how uncomfy the seats are so were prepared with extra cushions, shawls and so on. These were carefully stowed into the tiny spaces under the seats along with my knitting yarn and other flight essentials. 

I then unlocked the tray table which came down into place with a loud 'clunk' and a decided list to one side. I tried to make it go flat but when I placed a pencil on the table, it rolled off and went under my neighbour's seat. Not a good start. We retrieved it, had a brief conversation about how to get his overhead light on (not an easy task either) and I put the pencil along with everything else on my lap.

Soon our meal came along and I left my knitting where it was as I couldn't manoeuvre down to place it into a bag. The meal finished and a cup of tea arrived which was scalding hot. I held it on the sloping table for a while and then made the mistake of deciding it might be better if I folded the tray table over so it was slightly more stable.

It was at that point that I discovered that even folded, the table was not flat. This was just after I had let go of the cup. I saw the teacup tipping over and realized I had to make a snap decision as the tea was heading straight for my legs! But if I moved them out of the way it would soak my brand-new cotton-yak yarn, together with my bamboo needles, notes so far and the ill-fated pencil.

Good sense did, I am happy to say, prevail - but it was a close-run thing. The tea duly drenched everything in sight and I briefly looked at the sodden mass, before placing everything into a Ziplok bag and sealing it up. We dealt with as much of the tea as we could with the available paper towels and then I retired, as gracefully as I could, to the bathroom to try to dry my skirt out.

The rest of the journey was spent with a cold, wet skirt clinging to me and keeping me awake. I wouldn't have minded being awake if I had had some knitting, but with nothing to do the time dragged until we arrived at our destination.

Fortunately, my skirt was nicely dried by the time we landed but everything else was in a sorry state. The wood of the bamboo needles was raised and rough and the yarn was beyond saving. I am afraid to say that the combination of aircraft tea and yak yarn was decidedly unpleasant, especially after it had sat in a hot closed plastic bag for 10 hours! So I had to abandon it and come up with another solution for my holiday knitting. 

Fortunately, I found an excellent substitute, but more about that next time...

Until then, Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Welcome to Kiku Knits

Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 13/7/17

6 Jul 2017

Welcome to Kiku Knits

Have I ever mentioned I like reversible knitting stitches? Well, yes, OK, maybe just once or  twice... Or perhaps I should make that three or four times! 

I suppose I am slightly obsessed with reversible patterns, but as I've said before, they just draw me in. I love the way the fabric drapes when you use a reversible stitch, their ease of use, their versatility, their range. 

And I know I'm not the only one who loves this category of stitches, judging from some of the lovely messages that you have been sending us after the publication of our E-Book, Reversible Knitting Stitches. Both Anna and I have been so pleased to hear your feedback, so many thanks if you have taken the time to write to us.

A few weeks ago we asked the question: any suggestions for how to make this even better? And one of the really interesting ideas was that it would be great to be able to go to a single source to see all the projects that are featured in the book, rather than having them split between my website and Anna's.
Kiku Knits
That suggestion came at a very opportune moment for us because Anna had just decided to set up a brand new venture, Kiku Knits, focussing specifically on knitting patterns. She is still selling her beautiful finished items in her Knitted Wonderland Etsy store, but now she has a specific venue for her knitting patterns

So, it only took a little bit of extra work for me to move my patterns into a brand new boutique store on the KikuKnits.com website - perfect.

So now if you go to the information page about our Reversible Knitting Stitches book you will see a link to view all the patterns available using reversible stitches from the book - yes, all 60 of them as of today's date! 

We're going to keep adding new pattern links into that collection so please go back and revisit it from time-to-time to get more ideas and inspiration for items you can make with reversible knitting stitches.

Thank you so much for that suggestion and for all your great ideas. I am happy to say the print version of the book is now in its final editing stages and we hope to be able to get it to the printers in the not-too-distant future. More news about that soon!

Until next time, 

Happy Reversible Knitting!


Pattern featured at the top of the blog: Scottswood Stole

My Website / Wyndlestraw Designs: www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com
Anna's Website / Kiku Knits: www.kikuknits.com

Reversible Knitting Stitches E-Book: Book details and pattern links.

. 25/7/17


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