Tag Archives: knitting

Stashdown 2017 – April progress

 

April was a quiet month in my stashdown challenge, and I have only just got round to having photos taken of what I did complete. Just a short-sleeved stranded pullover in handspun this month, which used up 927 yards of yarn. No yarn in though, which is just as well with Tour de Fleece starting to approach on the horizon.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/papilio

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/papilio

Total monthly yarn out: 927 yards, 226g
Total monthly yarn in: 0 yards, 0g

Net monthly yarn decrease: 927 yards, 226g

Monthly fibre stash reduction: 0g.


Total yarn out ytd: 8,857.5 yards, 3,964g
Total yarn in ytd: 3,900 yards, 826g

Net yarn decrease ytd: 4,957.5 yards, 3,138g

Fibre stash reduction ytd: 800g.

Cold Sheep 2016 – March progress

March saw more good progress on my cold sheep stashdown challenge.

It began with turning 1,212 yards of hanspun into a long-sleeved sweater with some interesting design features which the stripes showed up well.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/zebra-tee

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/zebra-tee

I then dug into my commercial yarn stash for the first time in the year to work on a new version of an old pattern, making a gauntlet version of my old diamond wristers pattern. This longer version used 231 yards of yarn.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/diamond-wristers

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/diamond-wristers

Whilst I got that into testing I spun up 200g of white Shetland fibre into 934 yards of 2-ply fingering weight yarn.

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/white-shetland

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/white-shetland

 

I also made the shorter version of the revised pattern, using up another 131 yards.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/diamond-wristers-3

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/diamond-wristers-3

Then it was back to the handspun, knitting up this tunic/dress and using up 1,334 yards of yarn

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/laneway-2

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/laneway-2

A brief pause in the knitting to spin up 338 yards of chain-plied fingering weight Manx Loaghtan fibre (a rare breed)

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/manx-loaghtan

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/manx-loaghtan

And also some black Jacob, 464 yards of fingering weight 2-ply

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/black-jacob

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/black-jacob

I also finished off another Shetland gradient jumper/tunic which used up 1,094 yards of yarn.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/elfe-2

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/elfe-2

Total monthly yarn out: 4,002 yards
Total monthly yarn in:  1,736 yards

Net monthly yarn reduction: 2,266 yards

Monthly fibre stash reduction: 400g.


Total yarn out year-to-date: 8,108 yards
Total yarn in year-to-date: 4,686 yards

Net yarn reduction year-to-date: 3,422 yards

Fibre stash reduction year-to-date: 1,210g.

Diamond Wristers

A reworking of an old pattern, now available in an additional longer length, with a better flow of cables and ribbing. Click on either photo for more images.

The cable pattern is fully charted and the wristers are fully adaptable for longer or shorter hands, narrower or wider thumbs. Written instructions accompany the cable chart, explaining how to work the cuff, top and thumb gusset.

The pattern is sized for average adult hands (circumference 6.5”/16cm, length 7”/18cm) but it can be adjusted by altering your gauge.

Yarn requirements:

  • 220-230 yards fingering weight/4-ply/sock yarn for the longer, gauntlet length
  • 120-160 yards fingering weight/4-ply/sock yarn for the shorter, wrister length

Available on ravelry for £2.50 (for customers within the EU – VAT added at checkout).

So, how does designing work?

I hang out a lot at ravelry and a question that often comes up is ‘How do I get into pattern designing/writing?’. I can only answer for myself, but this is a little about how the designing process works for me.

I got into pattern designing because there were things that I wanted to make, but there was no published pattern for me to work from. At this stage I had been knitting for a few years and was comfortable with a variety of different techniques, construction types and had worked from a range of different pattern styles.

As I worked out what I needed to do in order to make the item, I took notes (particularly helpful if you are making a pair of something such as socks or gloves and want them to look the same). This including sketching, and swatching, and ripping out and starting again over and over. After all of the work of checking gauges and trawling through stitch dictionaries it seemed a shame for that work to be lost with the completion of my project, so I typed it all up into a pattern style that I was comfortable with and so my first pattern was available for publication.

My first few patterns were all self-published for free, and no testing was undertaken prior to release. These days I utilise the various groups on ravelry in order to test patterns for accuracy and also for yardage and fit information. It’s a great way to get feedback and work out the kinks, without having to spend a lot of money on testers or tech editors. It also helps to see how other people interpret instructions which seem clear to you.

There are a range of different pattern styles, from the extreme hand-holding where every stitch and every step is described in detail (often with photos and videos as well), which can be great for beginners, right through to charts which show all of the necessary shaping with coloured borders or ‘no stitch’ squares, leaving interpretation up to the knitter.

My patterns fall somewhere in-between. They won’t tell you exactly which cast on or bind off to use (except that it might need to be stretchy), and if I don’t think it’s going to be particularly visible I might leave it up to the knitter to decide whether to mirror increases and decreases or not. But they do include a key of stitches used in the pattern (though not full instructions as to how to make each one, there are plenty of tutorials for that out there already).

I like to include two versions of the pattern instructions, so once a pattern has completed testing (which usually takes at least a month depending on the amount of knitting time required for the item) and the instructions are locked down, I make a printer-friendly version without the high-resolution images and coloured text. In this version I try to fit the instructions most economically onto the pages so that people can print the absolute minimum, saving both ink and paper. The high-res version is great for those working from computers and tablets, allowing them to really zoom into the images for any clarification.

I am still designing primarily based on things that I want to make, taking inspiration from commercial items, other knitting patterns, fabric, yarn, fibre, etc. I may look to move from self-publishing (on ravelry) to selling to magazines, but that will require working to a brief, a more rigid format both time-wise and style-wise, so we’ll see.

Maximising yarn usage: stripes

An easy way to maximise your yarn usage, if you’re trying to use up stash, is to combine two different yarns into one item. The easiest way to do this is with stripes. If you don’t quite have enough for the item with just one of your yarns, pair it with another to get the total required yardage.

Stripes work best with simple stockinette based patterns, as they really show off the colours without getting lost in lace or cables.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/zebra-tee

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/zebra-tee

You can also work with garter stitch, such as this short row shawl which combined two handspun yarns that didn’t have enough yaradage on their own to make much, resulting in a good-sized crescent shawl.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/pendulum

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/pendulum

If you are looking to maximise your yarn usage by using stripes, try to make sure that your two chosen colours have a good contrast between them so that the stripes really stand out well. Also make sure that your yarns are the same weight (fingering, dk, aran, etc.) and if making a garment to be worn have similar fibre contents so that they will work up together at the same gauge and won’t distort with wear (a cotton yarn may stretch more than a wool yarn, so unless you want stretched out stripes stick to just the one fibre type).

 

 

Maximising yarn usage: working top down

As part of my personal challenge to only knit from yarn already in my stash this year I am working with a lot of handspun and want to squeeze every last yard out of my yarn. A great way to maximise your yarn usage is to work top down patterns.

For example, I worked this Still Light tunic from the top down:

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/still-light-tunic

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/still-light-tunic

The sleeves were divided off and left on holders after I finished the yoke, so that once I was happy with the length of the body I could go back and, dividing the remaining yarn in half, complete the sleeves for as long as the yarn lasted. The scraps I had left after completing the sleeves were used to deepen the pockets.

Alternatively, if sleeve length is important, then you can complete the sleeves to their desired length first and then work the body until you use up all of your yarn, as I attempted with this jumper (but still had yarn leftover without turning it into a dress):

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/zebra-tee

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/zebra-tee

 

Cold Sheep 2016 – January progress

The year of cold sheep started well with no yarn or fibre purchases in the month of January.

I managed to use up 162 yards of commercial yarn in a pair of mittens

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/ladybird-mittens

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/ladybird-mittens

and another 1,248 yards of handspun yarn in a short-sleeved dress

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/laneway

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/laneway

I also spun 200g of fibre into 766 yards of fingering weight yarn.

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/jane-seymour-2

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/jane-seymour-2

Total yarn out: 1,410 yards
Total yarn in: 766 yards

Net yarn reduction: 644 yards

Fibre stash reduction: 200g.

It’s a start.

Ladybird mittens

A playful pair of mittens that mimic ladybirds. Keep your fingers warm and a smile on your (and everyone else’s) face while we await the return of these aphid-loving creatures from their winter hibernation.

Click on image for more photos

Click on image for more photos

The colourwork pattern is fully charted and adaptable for longer or shorter hands, narrower or wider thumbs. Written instructions accompany the colourwork chart, explaining how to work the cuff, top and thumb gusset.

The pattern is sized for average adult hands (circumference 6.5”/16cm, length 7”/18cm) but it can be adjusted by altering your gauge.

Yarn requirements:

  • 135-160 yards fingering weight/4-ply/sock yarn in main colour
  • 25-50 yards fingering weight/4-ply/sock yarn in contrast colour

You don’t even have to stick to red and black.

Available in high-res format only, no printer friendly version as contains colourwork charts.

Available on ravelry for £2.50 (for customers within the EU – VAT added at checkout).

Shetland sweater pack – part 2

I have previously posted about what happened to the first part of the Shetland sweater pack from Hilltopcloud that I spun up into 2,396 yards of fingering weight 2-ply yarn. The first part was turned into a sweater and I liked the pattern Chantalle so much (and having already paid for it) I decided to turn the remainder of my sweater pack yarn into a cardigan version of the same pattern.

This pattern is worked top-down, so once I had completed the yoke I was able to work the arms to the desired length and then just keep on knitting until almost all of the yarn was used up, finishing with some ribbing. I am very happy with the result, and look forward to using up some of my other handspun yarn on similar large projects such as this.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/chantalle-2

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/chantalle-2

I love how the variegation in the dyeing is shown off by the simple stockinette majority, but is not lost in the lace sections.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/chantalle-2

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/chantalle-2

 

Shetland sweater pack – part 1

My favourite indie fibre dyer, Katie Weston at hilltopcloud, offers Shetland sweater packs in 500g continuous strips. I spun mine up as part of this year’s Tour de Fleece, but only recently got round to working with it. The idea is that 500g should be enough to allow you to knit or crochet an entire sweater. I spun my fibre up to a fingering weight (my preferred weight of yarn to work with), managing to create 2,396 yards total.

http://www.ravelry.com/people/fak/handspun/shetland-sweater-pack

 

I wanted a simple pattern to show off the variations from the dyeing and spinning, so picked Chantalle by Vanessa Smith. This pattern is mostly stockinette with a lace collar in a v-neck. It knit up nice and quickly and only used 231g (1,092 yards), under half of the sweater pack.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/chantalle

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/fak/chantalle

I plan on using the remainder of the pack to make the same pattern, but this time in a cardigan.