23 Jun 2016

Mendip Placemats

Mid-summer has arrived, and with it balmy evenings and sunny days. It is just beautiful here in New England right now, with gentle breezes rustling the oak leaves and the scents of roses and lilies filling the air.

In other words, it's a perfect time for meals out of doors. A lazy Sunday breakfast or a light lunch under the sun umbrella - what could be better....

So here is a new knitting pattern for some placemats to help set the scene, the Mendip Placemats. These are worked in one of my favourite yarns, Rowan Yarns "Original Denim". This is a 100% cotton yarn with a wonderfully crisp texture. 

They are also in this season's key colour of dusky blue. I love it when the coming trend is also a favourite classic shade. Indigo, denim, blue - the colour of ages-old tradition, our youth and next season all wrapped up in one. Perfect.

The set includes two different sizes of rectangular placemats and a central oval tablemat, which features a strong purl-banded design to provide some protection for your tabletop. The stitch pattern is reversible, with one side having a neat ridged appearance while the other has a more fluid, casual feel. 

The pattern includes full line-by-line instructions, diagrams and stitch charts. Make just a couple of placemats as a gift for someone special or a whole dining set for your next family gathering.

You can find the Mendip Placemats pattern on my website and also on Craftsy, Etsy and Ravelry

An iBooks version suitable for viewing on iPads and other mobile devices can also be purchased from the iBookstore

Happy Knitting!



4 Jun 2016

Tranquility, Strength and Optimism

Blue is everywhere. It's the colour of the sky, the sea, lakes and oceans. We see it in the edge of a glacial iceflow or the vibrant shade of a robin's egg. 

Our woodlands spring into early summer with carpets of bluebells, and we name some of our most treasured places with names such as the Blue Mountains of Australia, or the Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina - one of my favourite places to sit and knit.

It is no coincidence that the Japanese word for indigo blue, Ai, is also the word for love. 

And it would be hard to imagine a Pantone colour forecast without some kind of blue in it. Who can forget the vibrant royal blue sweaters and dresses from the 1980's? They were everywhere. The same colour came back in a couple of years ago and had a brief flurry of interest, with cobalt skirts and jackets in the shops once again.

However, since then colours have toned down quite considerably. Here is the colour forecast for Fall/Winter 2015/2016 with the "Stormy Weather" colour I featured before. In this forecast collection the blue was dark, reflective, almost retiring and sombre.

However, for the next season Blue has become lighter again and is not just one of the colours in the palette - it is taking centre-stage. Pantone speaks of "the desire for tranquility, strength and optimism" inspiring a colour palette led by blues. The one above is Riverside, a wonderful shade with the feel of traditional indigo. The forecast notes speak of a "cool and calming colour" which maintains a sense of constancy.

But this is not just the colour for the Autumn. It is also the colour for now, and in the next blogpost I will be featuring some knitted placemats in just this shade. Cool enough for a summer lunch under the sun umbrella. Constant enough for autumn meals safely back indoors again.

Until then - Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Druidstone Socks
Next Up: Mendip Placemats


19 Mar 2016

Druidstone Socks

In the last blogpost, I was looking at one of the key colours for this year, Stormy Weather. Pantone describes this colour as:

"Reminiscent of the sky on a gray, overcast day, Stormy Weather is dependable, cool and above all, constant. Implying quality and luxury, it is a powerful blue-gray that is strong, protective and enduring."

In other words, it's a perfect colour for Men's socks.

There are many wonderful blacks and greys around in the yarn stores right now and the photo above shows one of my favourites. This is Knit Picks "Stroll Tonal", Col # 26598 Train Station. The colours in the blend range from a rich coal black to dark steel mid-tones and medium smoke grey highlights. When worked up into socks, the lighter grey tones form into neat bands of colour - enough for interest but not distracting and blotchy.

The socks shown here are the Druidstone Socks - a brand new pattern for this colour series. These feature a turn-back cuff and shaping around the ankle and arch to give a warm, well-fitting sock. The socks are worked with a wide rib design which is elastic and comfy to wear.

The pattern also includes a straight sock which would be an excellent option for a day at the office. These are worked in Knit Picks Stroll Solid yarn #23696 Ash, with the top edge picked out in a contrasting black colour.

The pattern includes a range of sizes for both men and women. The photo at the top of this blog includes a women's sock in Knit Picks Stroll Tonal #26140 Pacific. The overall colour of these socks is a deep cerulean blue but with shades of denim and stormy blue skies - the colour of the sea after the stormy weather has passed!

The Druidstone Socks pattern is available on my website and you can also find it on CraftsyEtsy and Ravelry. An iBooks version suitable for viewing on iPads and other mobile devices can also be purchased from the iBookstore.

Happy Knitting!



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!


. 19/3/16

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


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