Knitted treasure

Have you been following the Yarn Love Challenge on Instagram? I've been doing my best to keep up with the prompts for the last couple of months, and it's been great for sparking ideas for my daily photos and also discovering other yarn-loving people through the hashtag.

The challenge prompt for April 30th was "made for me", which gave me the idea of showing off an amazing sweater which my Mum made for me, almost 30 years ago...

That's me and my brother feeding the chooks!

I'm a big fan of the harmonious colour palette, with its brights toned down with greys and pastels. Isn't it beautiful?

The pattern is 'Outlined Star' from Kaffe Fassett's 1985 book Glorious Knitting. It's one of the gems from Mum's collection of retro knitting books which we get out now and then to marvel over. Some of the 80s books are more valuable as comedy than inspiration right now, but Glorious Knitting still stands up in my opinion! I love the photography and colours, and I'm in awe of some of the designs. If you're keen for some top-notch colourwork inspiration, you might be able to find it at your local library or second-hand bookshop. 

There are certain knitting techniques that are generally considered difficult or advanced at the moment, that weren't so much when I was growing up. This sweater incorporates two of them: stranded colourwork knit flat, and 3-colour stranding. And because Mum was comfortable with these techniques, I didn't shy away from them when I first learned to knit. Thanks Mum!

My first attempt at colourwork of any kind was an Inga Hat, which I tried to adapt for flat knitting, but got horribly confused by the braid at the brim. Later, when I'd learned to knit in the round, my first completed colourwork project was an Opus Spicatum hat in a full rainbow of colours instead of the original two - which resulted in working 3-colour (and even a few 4-colour) rounds. It was a massive challenge, but I managed to finish it with the help of online tutorials and sheer bloody-mindedness. Hooray for adventurous newbies! ;)

Bees on the brain

I'm a week and a bit into my holiday at Mum & Dad's in Whakatane, and so far I've knit half a scarf and taken a ridiculous number of photos. I've borrowed Julian's DSLR camera for the trip, so I can get to grips with its manual controls with Dad's help. It's a lot of fun taking practice photos of whatever I fancy!

But before I get into photo-talk, I'll show you the scarf. It uses a stitch pattern I drafted up about six months ago, which is a lace-and-texture version of my Beeswax cable pattern. It traces the same shapes, with decreases forming the surface layer of honeycomb and yarn-overs forming the layer behind. The benefit of this version is that it's easy to knit flat, whereas the cabled Beeswax pattern is only really suitable for knitting in the round.

The yarn is a rich golden shade of Outlaw Yarn's Bohemia Worsted called 'Troy'. I hope to have the pattern available in about a month's time. :)

One really cool thing about playing with a DSLR camera (and having a photographer and his gear on hand) is trying out different lenses. My favourites at the moment are macro tubes, which can be stacked behind the lens to get varying levels of close-up-ness.

You can really see the darker possum fibres and lighter alpaca hairs in this yarn with a macro shot:

I've also been taking lots of photos around the garden, of flowers and insects and birds. I'm most proud of these bee photos, taken with a macro tube extension. The bee was foraging in a big patch of flowering pizza thyme, one of my family's favourite all-purpose herbs.

As part of my new photography learning curve, I've signed up for the free course A Year With My Camera, which involves weekly email lessons and homework assignments to share in the Facebook group (or on Instagram). We're only two weeks in, so you can still join in if you'd like!

New pattern: Silverwing

I have a new shawl design to share! This is Silverwing, a one-skein lace shawl inspired by the birdlife of the Whakatane river, and the graceful white-faced herons in particular. My parents' house and shop are about a 20-minute walk apart, and the riverbank is by far the most pleasant route between them. There are always pūkeko, shags, swallows, and various gulls to be seen, and sometimes I'm lucky enough to spot a heron or a flock of spoonbills.

During my last visit to Whakatane I knit up this shawl (it's a quick knit for a lace project), and did a photoshoot by the river with Dad...

One of Dad's many amazing bird photos! This one's a white-faced heron.

The yarn is a special gradient-dyed silk blend, Ozimerino Soie (50% merino, 50% silk; 438yds/401m per 100g) from local dyer Dawn of Ozifarmer's Market. This colour is called 'Silver', and it's a subtle, gentle gradient with a lot of shine from the silk. I used up all of the yarn to get the most out of the gradient, and it's easy to change the number of repeats at the end of the shawl so you can do the same.

The lace patterns in Silverwing are simple and easily memorised, making it a suitable project for a beginner lace knitter, or an experienced lace knitter looking for a low-attention project for tv knitting.

I like the way the long tail of the shawl curls around itself.

Features:

  • an all-over lace pattern inspired by wing feathers
  • an asymmetrical triangular shape, knit from the narrow point to the opposite edge
  • a stretchy k2tog-tbl lace bind off
  • the lace patterns are intuitive and easy to memorise
  • a one-skein project, easily customisable to suit your available yardage
  • perfect for gradient-dyed yarn, as well as solids and semi-solids. The lace is also simple enough for speckled or lightly variegated yarn
  • one size, easily shrunk or enlarged by changing the number of repeats
  • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

You can see all the details and download the Silverwing pattern via Ravelry or Loveknitting. Dad's website (with a very pretty photo gallery) is here: Jos's Photography & Framing.

In full sail! ;)

New pattern: Folia Loop

Folia Loop is the second design in my La Folia Collection of accessories featuring leafy lace and garter stitch. It's a lightweight cowl that can be worn draped as a long loop or doubled up for warmth. I was lucky enough to have my Mum agree to model it for me!

It requires only one skein of fingering-weight yarn - I used Malabrigo Mechita in 'Pearl', a soft grey with a pretty tinge of mauve. It's a little more tricky than the Folia Crescent shawl, but aside from the provisional cast on and the final grafting it should be relatively intuitive once you've knit the first section or two of the lace. And the garter section is of course smooth sailing!

If you haven't tried a provisional cast on before or would like to try a new method, this is my favourite tutorial, using the crochet hook method: Crochet Provisional Cast On.

Features:

  • a diagonal leafy lace panel surrounded by squishy garter stitch
  • long enough to wear looped either once or twice
  • knit flat with a provisional cast on and grafted to finish
  • a stitch marker keeps track of the lace/garter boundary
  • a one skein project in fingering-weight yarn, perfect for that precious single skein
  • one size, easily enlarged by working extra garter stitch rows
  • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

You can see all the details and download the Folia Loop pattern via Ravelry or Loveknitting.

The remaining pattern in the collection, a triangular shawl, is currently being test knit and will be released in late September. You can find the collection-so-far here on Ravelry: La Folia Collection. The triangular shawl pattern will be added to the ebook once it's released.

Curious about the name La Folia? I introduced the collection and its musical inspiration in my earlier post, New pattern: Folia Crescent.

New pattern: Liquid Honey

So happy I can finally share this with all of you! Liquid Honey is my second pattern to be published in Knitty, and it's one I'm super proud of.

And that's not all... my face is on the cover of the Spring + Summer issue! I've been making 'cover girl' jokes all day, it's been quite surreal... :)

I love yellow, and I love knitting lace, and I'm totally fascinated by bees. Put it all together, and you get a sunny yellow shawl inspired by honeycomb dripping with honey. I thought its cheeriness would make it a great fit for Knitty, and a nice gift for my fellow knitters.

Features:

  • honeycomb lace with a zigzagging lace border
  • top-down triangular construction with garter-tab cast on
  • no special stitches: just knit, purl, single and double yarn-overs, k2tog, ssk 
  • a decorative picot bind off
  • requires 1.5 skeins of Malabrigo Lace (700yds of laceweight yarn)
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • one size: 63" wingspan, 29" along spine
  • both charted and written instructions. 

The main part of the shawl is very repetitive and intuitive to knit, perfect for an on-the-go or tv-knitting project. The edging requires a little more attention, and I do recommend using needles with nice sharp points, for example Addi Lace needles. They kept me sane!

Shout out to my best photographer Dad for doing the photoshoot with me, and finding all the summery-looking flowers in the garden and around the town. And another shout out to Mum & Dad's 'Fortune' plum tree for co-starring in the photos! Since then, the plums have ripened and been turned into a couple of dozen jars of sauces and jams. Go tree.

The pattern is available for free here at Knitty.com. Its Ravelry page is here.

You can also read my post from last September on the story of Knitty and me.