Posts filed under ‘Patterns’
For the most part, I’m a bit bah humbug about Christmas. The muzac carols and obligatory gift exchanging mostly just give me the grumps. But there’s something about a Christmas tree which still holds the magic in a it’s-not-a-real-birthday-till-you-blow-out-the-candles kind of way.
Blinking lights, shiny tinsel and tatty old gewgaws with outlandish names from childhood; the tackier the better. Maybe it’s because the tradition of celebrating evergreens at midwinter goes right back into prehistory and spans several continents.
Or maybe not. Even now, memories of sleeping on a rickety truckle bed under a sweet smelling tree on Christmas eve, watching the coloured lights dance their syncopated jitterbug can still make me wax lyrical.
This Christmas we are a long way from home, but we couldn’t not have a tree. It needed to be small and portable, and because everything on our trip needs to be multipurpose, it had to be practical as well as decorative. (And besides, it’s getting cold!)
So it’s a cowl that moonlights as a tree. 🙂
Fold it in half and admire it on the mantelpiece, and then snuggle it around your neck when you head outside for a walk in the woods, or possibly to leave food out for the reindeer..
And in the spirit of Christmas, Winter Solstice, Yule or what you will, I wanted to share it to say thank you for all your support over the last year and a half.
Merry Christmas Tree!
I’m going to release a dragon into the wild tonight!
I’m really chuffed by The Dragon’s Tale as I had to step right out of my comfort zone to make it, and would have been thoroughly lost if it hadn’t been for a number of very kind helping hands. (Thank you Catnach, Sandra8981, Madquilter, Alpacaspinner, and the whole group of testers..)
I’ve been quietly in love with this stitch pattern ever since I first saw it. I spent several hours just looking at its construction, and I’m honestly in awe of it. Apart from its sheer rippling beauty, the amount of experience and understanding that went into working out where to place the increases and decreases to get the scales to lean and flow as they do is quite remarkable. My sincere respect to Marjorie Bialkowski for either creating it, or passing it on to the wonderful Barbara Walker.
However turning it into a sideways shawl presented some challenges, for me at least.
I’m airing my ignorance woefully here, but I figure that if even I could manage to knit this, then anyone could.
– I hadn’t worked side to side before.
– I hadn’t tried an integrated I cord edge.
– I hadn’t worked pattern on the WS before and I had to turn my brain inside out to figure out how to work a ssk on the WS, (I was still turning my work around to work out which way I was supposed to lean for the first 3 pattern repeats! Fortunately there is only one decrease and a yarn over worked on each WS row, and the placement and direction is established on the previous row, so it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of it.)
– And I hadn’t used anything above fingering for a couple of years, so this was a stretch in every direction.
In my (albeit limited) experience, dragons tend to be rather opinionated creatures, and this one proved no different. In my imagination, it was originally going to be a shawl, however it was determined to be more lithe and serpentine than I had envisioned, so it became a scarf instead.
Then it needed a tail tip. Apparently all the really cool dragons have them, and this one wasn’t happy without one.
And once it had a little barbed tail, it just didn’t look complete without a head, so back to the graph paper we went again. This time we (the dragon and I, that is) played around with cables for dramatic effect, and then got way too carried away with the button jar trying out different eyes, which was great fun. (If you happen to be looking for some serious dragon eyes, I can highly recommend ArtistJP on Etsy, he has a great variety, and is very helpful.)
But we still weren’t quite done. All this was merely a scarf, and ‘we’* wanted to spread our wings and truly fly, so Dragonflight, the shawl version, was born. This is a deeper crescent (and adaptable to become deeper still, and or longer/shorter) with a wider border, and designed to work with lighter weight yarn, in this case from fingering up to DK, compared to the DK and up for the Dragon’s Tale scarf. It’s testing at the moment and should be out in a couple of weeks.
So the moral of this tale seems to be ‘beware of dragons, because they’re bossy’. Or perhaps that following your imagination can get you into all sorts of fun mischief.
*Dragons apparently believe they are entitled to use the royal ‘we’.
The amazing Solstice Yarns ‘Sea Fey’ is a beautiful green gold by day, and turns to secret dragonish gold at night.
The Dragon’s Tale is the second in the Oriental Tales series, along with The Peacock’s Tale, Scheherezade’s Tale, and the tale of the flying carpet, which will hopefully come off the needles in the next day or two. And after that there are a bunch of fairy tale archetypes I am itching to play with, and then.. well, the list is getting rather long.
How to care for your new shawl
Knitting lace seems to be addictive. Possibly it’s the jigsaw-like puzzle of lining up every stitch form a pattern, or perhaps it is the exhilaration of the butterfly-from-a-chrysalis moment of blocking your shawl and discovering what you’ve really been making over those many hours.
Whatever the reason, the reality is that each of us has only one neck, and you can, generally, only wear one shawl at a time.
What to do with the others? Frequently they become gifts.
Gifting them provides the ideal excuse to make more, and makes an excellent justification for indulging in more yarn shopping. 🙂 Not to mention cheering the recipient.
However, if you’ve ever given someone a lace shawl, they have probably asked you ‘how do I wash it?’ And you’ve probably noticed their eyes glaze over as you describe soaking and blocking. No one wants their gift to become a burden, after all.
Blocking is simple enough once you’ve done it a time or two, or seen a picture, but can seem daunting to the novice.
To make the first-time-blocking process less scary, I’ve made up a variety of little A6 cards which can be slipped in with your precious gift, and referred to at leisure by the lucky recipient.
You can download the PDF here, then print and share at will. 🙂
Please note some I’ve included some for silk, which requires more gentle blocking, some with the lazy clothesline method, and some which recommend a protective covering over the blocking surface (highly recommended for shawls which will either hold a lot of water, or which you found to be non-colourfast when you soaked them yourself). Please consider which card best suits the needs of your shawl.
You may like to include the yarn label with the gift too.
So now you’ve got the perfect excuse to knit more!
I’m queue jumping here – I was going to post about the Otherwhere adventures, as the last of these was released on Monday, but The Peacock’s Tale was released to the wild just last night, and you know what peacocks are like! They like attention. 🙂
This is the pattern I’ve had in my head right from the start, the one that made me want to start designing. I’m so glad I waited, as I was able to make the design much more .. everything.. as a result!
In what seems to have become a dominant feature of my patterns, it has a modular approach which is highly adaptable. Any yardage of lace to heavy fingering weight is workable.
The are 3 different styles of feathers (each of which can be repeated indefinitely before progressing to the next one) and then an expandable edging which can be worked at least 2 different ways – either as straight feathers, or alternated to make an eye within the feather tip.
One of the testers came up with a fantastic variant which looks like the tail has been dipped into a lake, reflected back on itself.
Another used the alternating feather pattern first, then an extra long straight section before another alternation, so that the feathers keep growing.
Some tried just a single repeat of each feather, others expanded whichever phase appealed to them.
There was a surprising rainbow amongst the testers’ colours, several pink or red phoenixes, and of course there had to be a pure white one.
(See the pattern page in the first link to find more details on the shawls shown here.)
I can’t wait to see more join the flock! Each one is quite unique.
I’m very excited to have released the last pattern in my second collection this week. The Light Cycle is inspired by the different qualities of light at different times of day, and all four shawls are designed particularly with gradient yarn in mind, so they are highly customisable to make best use of your yarn.
Each shawl will incorporate two patterns which explore the intriguing paradox of light as both a wave and a particle. In each design, the two parts can be extended to any size, allowing you to make use of the whole skein.
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of paradox. Perhaps it’s because it calls to mind my own internal inconsistencies of thought, or perhaps because it is an example of the unknowable within everyday life.
Clair de Lune (Moonlight)
Super quick and easy knit, very relaxing, and let’s the yarn do all the work. Would be beautifully ethereal and cobwebby in lace weight but I opted for sock to show that this works too. Not formally beaded, but I scattered some little beads randomly in the mesh section for a little starry twinkle here and there.
Soleil d’Or (Golden sun)
Much simpler than it looks, this shawl knits up surprisingly quickly, and is adaptable to a range of yarn weights. Switch between the two main patterns when you like.
Nightfall creates a dynamic effect with a more bold pattern set with twinkling stars. The edging is simplicity itself, just the one row repeated as many times as you like until bind off.
The last in the set, daybreak is a soft, romantic knit, with a gently flared edging. Shimmering and lacey, but deceptively simple.
All Nimble Knits patterns are currently $1 off until the end of the month to raise awareness of the Ebola crisis. For each pattern sold, $1 will be donated to the Red Cross, to help with their efforts. More info here Donations also being collected, for those who don’t need a pattern, but still want to help the cause.
What does knitting have in common with Atlantis? Not very much.
However, the boys are fascinated – as most small boys are – with volcanoes. We watched a documentary recently about the dig at Thera near Santorini, in Greece, where an eruption four times larger than the infamous Krakatoa, so large it blotted out the sun on the other side of the globe for days, ejected 60 km3 into the air, triggered the downfall of an entire civilisation, and may perhaps have been the basis of the story Plato wrote, which inspired the myth of Atlantis that is still intriguing us almost two and a half thousand years later.
Atlantis or not, archeologists in the town of Akrotiri on the island of Thera have discovered a fascinating and remarkably advanced civilisation. This was the pinnacle of the Minoan civilisation, and this event was probably it’s downfall, as Akrotiri was the main trading point between … But I’m getting carried away by history, when all I meant to say was that this pattern was inspired by the idea of the complex and intriguing people who lived on this island, painted their walls with gloriously colourful and intricate frescoes, had mysterious religious rituals. And by all the individuals who went about their day to day lives in a time so long ago as to have passed beyond verbal memory, yet has been captured like a magic time capsule by volcanic ash, a snapshot of a time we would otherwise know nothing about.
I wonder what everyday life was like for your average Akrotirian?
Well, after that unsolicited little history lesson, now for the reason for this post. The title tells of a test knit after all..
So here is my little tribute to Atlantis. In a shawl. Don’t ask me why. Everything is in a shawl at the moment.
The small lace pattern is for those beautiful lilies, and the larger lace seemed suitably garlandy, or possibly wave-ish.
Where is the adventure?
Well you can have your lilies floating or underwater, in a manner of speaking.
You can use the lily lace before or after the garland lace, and you can switch between the two as often as you like until the yarn runs out. This creates the potential for many unique shawls, as the pattern created is slightly different going from large to small than it is going the other way around!
And then there is another variable too, as you can work a plain section first, and then start either large or small lace . (I had to do lots of maths, but I wrote it all down, so you don’t have to do any, I promise!)
Patterns should be ready to go out by Saturday. Anyone interested in testing is very welcome to drop by Nimble Knits and put their hand up. 🙂
Now I can set to work on the next collection. This one is all about light and the paradox of waves and particles. Fun stuff.
I’ve just cast off the last of a series of 4 shawls which I’m calling the Leaf Cycle.
It started with Winterleaf, quite unintentionally, simply because I’d always loved leaf patterns but hadn’t seen any in my favourite crescent format. Then some time while I was stuck in the feverish stage of the flu, the idea of a series grew.
So there is Summerleaf, with large lush leaves, like the trees in full foliage, and an edging of smaller new leaves peeking out underneath. Shade for lazy summer days, and a living canopy during lingering warm evenings.
And Fallingleaf, with open lacy leaves which flutter away at the edging. Meant for a glamourous, decadent silk, just as the trees deck themselves in their finest hues for their last hurrah before hibernation.
Winterleaf has the smallest leaves, and an edging of twig-like tracery. These are the last echoes of autumn while the trees dream, and the promise of spring to come.
And finally Blossomleaf. I had so much fun designing this one, I really went to town! Inspired by the excitement and playfulness that spring brings, this shawl has a life of its own and can grow into many different things as you play with where, how and if to use the various elements. There are floating blossoms, unfurling leaves and drifts of petals at the edging.
Winterleaf is out already, and the other 3 are in various stages of testing, so they’ll be out in the coming weeks.