27 Feb 2018

In an icy quiet

Snow is a bit of a novelty for those of us who live in more Southerly climes. So it was with a child-like wonder that we woke to ice and snow coating every branch and twig this morning. The garden seemed full of ice sculptures and the gentle quiet of the snow still falling felt magical.

And unbidden, a poem came into my mind that I had learnt at junior school in the UK, "Snow" by Walter de la Mare:

No breath of wind, no gleam of sun – 
Still the white snow whirls softly down.

Twig and bough and blade and thorn
All in an icy quiet, forlorn.

Whispering, rustling, through the air
On sill and stone roof — everywhere,

It heaps its powdery crystal flakes,
Of every tree a mountain makes;

‘Til pale and faint at shut of day
Stoops from the West one wint’ry ray,

And, feathered in fire where ghosts the moon,
A robin shrills his lonely tune; 

And from her dark-gnarled Yew-tree lair
Flits she who had been in hiding there.

Happy Winter Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Snow gently falling

Many thanks to my DH, Tim, for his photos which so beautifully captured the day. If you would like to see more of his photos please visit his Instagram page.

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22 Feb 2018

Snow gently falling

I am sitting in front of a cosy fire right now while the snow is gently falling outside. I have a cup of tea on the table next to me along with a rather fine gluten-free cookie and my knitting basket is close at hand, so I am contented for the next little while. 

However, since I have only just come in from 4 hours spent chipping ice off the driveway I am not sure if I am going to manage much knitting anytime soon. I should perhaps have been sensible and stopped about two hours ago!

I was nice and warm though, working steadily and wrapped up against the elements. That's the beauty of being a knitter: that you usually have the perfect item to help you keep warm, no matter what the elements throw at you. I find I don't usually even need a jacket once I have donned my favourite gardening sweater and woolly hat.

However, one item I don't have right now and could do with is some fingerless mitts. I realised this the other day when Anna sent me some photos of her latest knitting pattern, the Frost Fighters - Headband and Mittens. These look perfect for this time of year, when the temperatures can change from balmy to f-f-freezing overnight.

Fingerless mitts are so useful when you are cycling or texting, as the main part of your hands are kept warm but without restricting your movements. They are also great when you are working outside, such as on a market stall. A friend of mine always says it helps her rheumatic thumb keep warm if she wears fingerless mitts, too.

Anna has used a reversible cable stitch from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches. This is the Ribbed Cable pattern, which is a wonderfully graphic stitch. On one side, single rib columns meet and divide giving a dynamic look, while the other face has soft flowing cables of stitches twisting together with a lovely padded texture.

The Frost Fighters mitts can use either side as the one on show, giving two quite different looks. 

The set includes both the mitts and a headband so you can keep your ears warm at the same time. For more details about the Frost Fighters set, please click here.

And now it's time for that cup of tea and for me to finish off the scarf I was talking about in my last blogpost.

Until next time - Keep warm!


Last Blogpost: Projects rediscovered
Next Up: In an icy quiet

Website: www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com

Our Book: Reversible Knitting Stitches

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15 Feb 2018

Projects rediscovered

I recently took part in an archeological dig! However, before you get too excited, I should perhaps explain that I didn’t have to travel far to get there and the findings won’t make very interesting reading in any history book. Still, it felt very much as though I was digging through history as I unearthed old knitting projects waiting in my “To Do” basket in my studio! 

I have to admit I had been largely unaware of quite how many items had been going in there, never to reappear until now. Then a few weeks ago I was trying to find a bag I had been working on and realised that it must be in the middle of this overflowing basket.

I sat on the floor next to this collection and looked at the first item. It was a very pretty lace scarf and was already finished. All that was required was for me to sew in the ends! I had set it aside some weeks ago because I finished it at night-time and I wanted some daylight to work on it...

Then under that was the bag I had been looking for and a second one that just needs some material for a lining. Then below those: oh gosh, a cardigan from last Spring waiting for a buttonband. 

The list grew longer as I set more items on the floor around me. As I unearthed first one and then another, I realised how little work was needed to finish each of them, but which to do first? I sat looking at all the items for a moment, not able to choose which to do and about to put everything back in the basket again.

Then I remembered that famous quotation: "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step." So if I finished the first item, that would be one less item waiting to be done. I replaced everything back in the order I had removed them except for that first item, the lacy scarf. 

Half an hour later I had not only finished all the ends but had cast on for another one in a second colour! I had so enjoyed knitting the first one and I had a very pretty grey yarn that I thought would look great in the same design. Spring is coming soon and a couple of lightweight scarves will be most welcome.

The stitch pattern is the Diagonal Openwork pattern from the lace chapter in our Reversible Knitting Stitches book and is one I have been meaning to use for ages. It’s quite mesmerising to knit and works up quickly. Hopefully by the time I write the next blogpost I’ll have the second scarf finished too!

Until next time,

Happy (productive) knitting!


Last Blogpost: Climbing new heights

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17 Jan 2018

Climbing new heights

On this day 23 years ago, we were woken by an enormous crash as our apartment building was first raised up and then slammed down into the rock below. That was immediately followed by a series of violent jolts as the Great Hanshin Earthquake started in earnest. The mountain we lived on was pushed inland by about a metre and, sadly, many homes and their occupants did not survive.

That was the start of the Year of the Pig in 1995. Renowned for its association with troublesome times, the Year of the Pig lived up to its reputation that year!

The next Year of the Pig is less than 12 months away and already there are astrological predictions of disasters and difficult times ahead.

However, there are things we can do to prepare. It is said that in the current year, the Year of the Dog, it is good to climb a mountain so you can see further ahead. 

Of course, it might be good exercise to actually climb a mountain or two! However if we look at it more figuratively, it might be that when you open your door you see difficulties like an actual mountain in front of you, but if you climb it then everything becomes clear. 

In other words, this is a really good year to think about what you want to do, to develop your skills and set yourself challenges that will help you in the future. 

If we apply this to knitting for a moment, what would you like to be able to do by the end of the year that you don't find easy now? Would you like to try more colourful projects, or more complex stitches? 

How about actually designing something for yourself? Wouldn't it be great to start with an idea, find a stitch that you fancy trying and end up with something unique!

Through the year, I am going to revisit this concept and make suggestions for patterns, stitches and ideas to move your knitting skills forward, so 2019 will see you knitting like a pro!

I can think of many challenges I would like to set for myself, too - not least of which is completing some of the unfinished items I have in an overflowing basket right next to me! But more on this next time.

Until then, Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: A dozen rainbows!

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

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23 Dec 2017

A dozen rainbows!

For the last few days, we've been counting down through the 12 chapters of our Reversible Knitting Stitches book and we've arrived at Chapter 1! This chapter is called Allover Stitches and includes some lovely knitting patterns including the stitch we're featuring today, Quilted Cross Stitch. 

As you can see from the photo above, the stitch inspired Anna to make a whole rainbow of coasters! 

Quilted Cross Stitch may not be one of the easiest knitting patterns you'll ever try, but it certainly is one of the more dramatic. Layers of stitches all moving in different directions seem to be piled one on top of another to give a stunning effect. The surface almost looks as though it has been embroidered over a backing fabric. 

The other side of the work is completely different, with an interesting broken rib texture that sits nicely flat. The fabric is firm and textural with a lovely contemporary feel. The stitch would be a lovely choice for a centrepiece or plant pot stand or, as here, a set of coasters!

The Rainbow Coasters are wonderfully vibrant and are sure to jazz up any surface. Two different yarns have been paired to produce the set: Sublime Egyptian Cotton DK (a 100% cotton yarn) and Schachenmayr Select Violena, which is a 50:50 mix of cotton and modal.

The colours range from a rich red to a deep violet and from a bright and eye-catching yellow to a lime green and turquoise. Knit just a few for a co-ordinated colour theme or make one of each colour for a complete rainbow! 

The material has a dense texture, which gives a good degree of insulation to any tabletop. The coasters are also finished with a gentle starching to improve stain protection and longevity.

To read more about the Rainbow Coasters knitting pattern, please click here.

Please click here to read the first in this series of blogposts, then follow the links at the bottom of each post to see all the stitch patterns featured.

To read more about our Reversible Knitting Stitches book, please click here
The book is available as an E-Book, a Print book, or a Print and Digital Package.

If you have already purchased the E-Book and would like to add the Print copy as a package Upgrade, then please contact me.

I hope you've enjoyed this series of blogposts and that you'll find lots of inspiration for your own design work in the pages of the book.

Wishing you a very Happy Holiday season and all the best for the New Year!

Moira and Anna 

Last Blogpost: The Cold Gap

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

Our Book: Reversible Knitting Stitches

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22 Dec 2017

The Cold Gap

Hooded scarves are back in fashion! They have been heavily featured in many fashion shows recently and are now making their appearance on the streets from places as far apart as New York and Tbilisi.

And with good reason — they're one of the best ways of closing that gap at the top of your collar. You know the one. Where that last snowflake just fell onto your bare neck. Or where the draught that's whistling across the common found a way to sneak in — brrrr. 

A hooded scarf neatly fills that gap, adding warmth just at the point where it is needed.

Then when the going gets really tough and the icy rain is driving through the bus shelter, you can bring the hood up and hold it neatly in place with the attached scarf. You'll be the warmest person getting onto the bus that day!

This is the 11th in a 12-part series looking at stitches from our Reversible Knitting Stitches book and items that can be made from them. Today I have chosen Irish Moss Stitch from Chapter 2 of the book and one of my favourite patterns of Anna's, the Vera Hooded Scarf.

Irish Moss Stitch is another old knitting stitch and has many names, including Double Moss Stitch and Box Stitch, because the pattern has a neatly ordered arrangement of doubled knits and purls. The stitch is truly reversible and lays beautifully flat.

It is a fairly easy stitch to work and has a very similar gauge to Stocking Stitch so can be used as a feature panel in a plain garment. The fabric has an interesting texture and would be a lovely choice for lap rugs and baby blankets. 

The soft, chunky yarn used in the Vera Hooded Scarf really shows this stitch beautifully. The scarf is quick to make, so you can easily run up a few of these in different colours to match your outfit for the day. The ends of the scarf are gently shaped so they hold neatly in place when the scarf is wrapped around your shoulders. 

The nice thing about a hooded scarf is that you don't have separate items to deal with, such as a hat and a scarf. So much easier to have them attached, and the Vera hooded Scarf has a generously sized hood which is easy to lift into place. Then when you reach a warmer location, you can slip the hood back down. 

However, even when the hood is down the scarf continues to hug your shoulders, holding in the warmth and helping to maintain your core temperature.

To read more about the Vera Hooded Scarf, please click here

Please click here to read the first in this series of blogposts, then follow the links at the bottom of each post to see all the stitch patterns featured.

To read more about the Reversible Knitting Stitches book, please click here
The book is available as an E-Book, a Print book, or a Print and Digital Package.

Until tomorrow,

Happy Reversible Knitting!


Last Blogpost: It's a Wrap

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21 Dec 2017

It's a Wrap

Ladies' fashion changed dramatically in the early 20th Century, from previously prim and proper attire to free-spirited and daring. By the 1920's, necklines had became more open and hemlines raised. Elaborately decorated dresses showed bared shoulders and long slender arms.

However, on leaving the dance hall or theatre, the 1920's lady would protect herself from the chills of a summer evening by wrapping herself in a stole. On a balmy night, a silky fringed stole would be draped becomingly over her arms. However, on a cooler evening, a warm wrap would be placed around her shoulders and fastened with an elaborate pin.

Those were elegant days for the fashionable set and even today designers will revisit the pages of 1920's fashion magazines for inspiration for their next collection. The wraps that became popular at that time are a case in point.

This is the 9th in a series of twelve blogposts, each one featuring a stitch from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitchesand showing a pattern which uses that stitch. We have been gradually counting down through the book and today we have reached Chapter 3: Large Blocks and Squares. 

Today I will be looking at a lovely modern pattern from this chapter, Square Lattice, and a warm wrap, the Scottswood Stole.

Square Lattice is a striking reversible stitch, with a lattice pattern that resembles a widely-spaced plain weave fabric. The vertical columns of stitches on the front face really do look as though they weave in and out of the design. The lattice framework encloses textured squares of Seed Stitch, adding extra detail to this side. 

On the reverse side, it is the blocks of Seed Stitch that form the principle pattern giving a modern cubist design. The fabric is thin and flexible with a lovely drape. It could be used for a wide variety of knitted items, such as a summer cardigan, a baby's pram cover or a light-weight shawl.

In the Scottswood Stole, the natural drape of the material is used to great effect. The wrap is knit in a 100% baby alpaca yarn for the ultimate in luxury. Warm, sophisticated and comfortable, the wrap provides the right amount of warmth just when you need it — perfect for a change of scene or a change of season.

For more details about the Scottswood Stole, please click here.

Please click here to read the first in this series of blogposts, then follow the links at the bottom of each post to see all the stitch patterns featured.

To read more about the Reversible Knitting Stitches book, please click here
The book is available as an E-Book, a Print book, or a Print and Digital Package.

Until tomorrow,

Happy Reversible Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Super Stretchy Stitches
Next Up: The Cold Gap

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