Two New Patterns

Dotty Set and Crescent shawl 001

When I have a pattern in a magazine, I put all the files in a folder ready to put out in my format under my name later. Recently I found a couple that I thought I had already put out. I hadn’t – but I have now!

The first is the Dotty Hat and Collar. This was in Knit Edge a while ago.

Dotty Set and Crescent shawl 002It is knitted in Cascade Superwash 220, but works with other DK yarns. The lace trim is worked first, then the crown is picked up and knitted upwards. The hat can be worn with the brim up, or with it down. There are four sizes to fit from toddler to adult, and as it is knitted in garter stitch, it is very stretchy, and each size will accommodate a variety of heads.

Dotty Set and Crescent shawl 003The collar is the first one I knitted in the wedge shape I have used several times since. It is knitted from the tip, and can be stopped at the end of any repeat of the lace edging. As large holes make up the pattern, any of these can be used to fasten the collar, so it can be worn in a variety of different ways. The fastening I have used is two buttons back-to-back, so they can be moved anywhere, or not used at all.

Dotty Set and Crescent shawl 004
The second pattern is the Sharks Tooth Crescent Shawl. This was in The Knitter a while ago, and is made up in Fyberspates Cumulus, a haloed lace weight. Other suitable yarns include Rowan Kid Silk Haze, or many 4 ply yarns.

Dotty Set and Crescent shawl 005

This is knitted from tip to tip. Although the pattern has only one size, it is easy to adjust the size by working more or fewer lace repeats on the increase/decrease section, or the straight section, or both.

Both patterns are available in my Ravelry store and my Etsy shop.

Flotta in Summer

The weather has been awful this spring and summer. Cold and very wet. But there have been a few nice days, and some interesting skies. These are a few photos taken on my everyday dog walks.

One walk takes us along a track running above the harbour. The nearer pier is used by commercial boats while the link span (for the ferry) is the one further back.

On a different day, the light was completely different. The island of Fara with the Hoy hills behind.

I had visitors one day, and the ‘guns’ were very popular!

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I often park here, and walk along the track. The views over to South Walls are always changing with changing weather. This is one of the two Martello towers under the sun’s spotlight….

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…. and on another day it was the lighthouse which was highlighted.

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One beauty of constantly changing weather is the rainbows. One day the bow was spectacular, with very bright colours.

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It was a full bow, and this was the other end:

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A few yards further on I got a better view of what was actually at the end of the rainbow. An Arctic Skua!

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The weather hasn’t always been bad. One evening we went out quite late and the Highland cattle were grazing close to the path.

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I cannot resist taking loads of photos of these animals! All have slightly different shaped horns….

Then over the horizon came the bull. So here is a family group!!

And finally, for those of you on Ravelry I thought I might change my Ravitar for the summer. Not much difference!!

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Centenary Stitches Nominated for an Award

Northern Lace Press’s book of World War 1 knitting patterns has been nominated for Best British Knitting Book in the Best of British Knitting Awards 2015.

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It is a huge honour to have been nominated, especially as the book was published by a small press, not one of the major players.

But now we need your help!

The award is voted for by members of the public. That means YOU (and all your friends!)


Over 100 people were involved with the project, putting in thousands of hours work. It would be great if we could make a good showing.

To vote, click here. You need to vote for other categories too, but that should be easy enough! Jamison and Smith were one of the companies who gave us yarn for the project, so a vote for them would not go amiss!!

I would be very grateful if you would vote, and tell all your friends and relations about it.  If you haven’t seen the book, there are more details on the Northern Lace Press website here.  Thank you.

The last day for voting is 5th September.

Exploring Shawl Shapes – 27 mini shawls to knit

Exploring Shawl Shapes cover

Finally, my new book is available for pre-order! On the Northern Lace Press website.

As some of you know, this book has been in the pipeline for a good while. I started by collecting the patterns for mini shawls from all over my computers. I then realised that, with a bit more work, I had the makings not just of a booklet, but of a book. Over the past few months I have been making the additional shawls to make the collection as complete as possible. I have been helped in this by two knitters from my Ravelry group – Su Lambert and Jenny Vowles – and by Elly Doyle. Su knitted the Pi Shawl; Jenny knitted the Orenburgh shawl and Elly knitted the Wedge Circle.  I am very grateful to them, to Patricia Williams for hand-spinning the yarn for the coloured square, and to Judith Brodnicki for doing the page design.

As well as using mini shawls for workshops on the regional traditions, I have used them for workshops on the different shapes of shawl. I split the shapes into three families – triangles, squares and circles. The book gives examples of the main methods of working for all these shapes. Many of them can be made larger fairly simply, and the book gives suggestions of how to do this. Empty charts of the different shapes are also given, so you can copy these to create your own versions.

Here are pictures of some of the shawls in the book.

Exploring Shawl Shapes 01Exploring Shawl Shapes 002Exploring Shawl Shapes 001Exploring Shawl Shapes 013Exploring Shawl Shapes 012Exploring Shawl Shapes 011Exploring Shawl Shapes 010PhotoELF Edits: 2015:06:08 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeExploring Shawl Shapes 02Exploring Shawl Shapes 007PhotoELF Edits: 2015:06:08 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeFrom the blurb (which I didn’t write!!):

“Over the years, Liz has delighted students with the use of mini shawls to teach the construction of shawls. For the first time, knitters unable to travel to Orkney for Liz’s workshops can enjoy her shawl lessons along with many other techniques and styles designed specially for this book.”

This book includes
• Mini shawls of all shapes and a variety of constructions
• Points from the pro for finishing
• Instructions on how to resize most patterns to be full-size shawls
• Blank charts for designing your own
• Extra patterns for practicing your new skills

96 pages, 27 patterns, full colour throughout
ISBN 978-0-9930614-7-9

See photos of all the designs, errata that we know about, and order the book here.

Exploring Shawl Shapes cover

Flotta in May

Scapa Flow sunset

May has not been a good month for me. I am sorry for the silence, but for the past 5 weeks I have had a chest infection which will not go. (Yes, doctors etc are involved!)

There have been signs of spring. Some signs, like the lambs. These are pure Shetlands which live free range on West Hill.

001. first hill lambsThe Skuas have also returned. These are large sea birds which breed on the island. The Arctic Skua is the smaller of the two main breeds. It comes in two forms – light phase and dark phase – and both breed here. This is a light phase Arctic Skua on the nest.

002. Artic SkuaThe Great Skuas are known locally as Bonxies. They are big birds which prey on smaller ones. One result of this on Flotta is a smaller number of Eider Duck, as the Bonxies devour the chicks. They tend to nest on slight hillocks in the heather.

003. Bonxie on nestThis one was sitting on the bank by the road. I was only a few feet away before it took off.

004. bonxie taking offTowards the end of the month I had people over and we went puffin hunting one evening. Typically the puffins did not cooperate – I saw one disappear into its burrow but by the time I had told folk where to look it had gone! But we did explore some of the WW2 ruins. This is one of the gun emplacements guarding the entrance to Scapa Flow.

005. gun emplacementThe next evening we saw a cruise ship, the Corinthian, pass between Hoy and Flotta.

006. Corinthian passing HoyWith the very late spring, some of the roadside narcissi bloomed through to the end of the month.

PhotoELF Edits: 2015:06:03 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeThese are on the side of the road along which I take the dogs each night. In this photo I have boxed my house.

008. narsissi with my houseBut the key feature of the month has been the weather. Cold, wet and windy. With rain, rain and more rain.

009. rain cloudsThe dogs had the right idea….

010. Isla asleep010. Meg relaxedWhen the sun did appear it was welcomed!

011. kitchenAnd we did get some lovely rainbows – this one taken from West Hill.

012. rainbowWe got some lovely skies too. This photo, from Stanger head looking west, was taken by Elly Doyle.

013. Red sky at StangerAnd this is the view over the oil holding tanks at the terminal.

015. sunset

A Spinning Treat!

A Spinning Treat!

I wanted to give Judith Brodnicki, the page designer of my mini shawls book (out soon!), a present of hand spun yarn. I also wanted to try Babylonglegs’ fibre.

Judith told me that she liked most colours except yellow. She didn’t mind a bit of yellow, but not ALL yellow. Having met Judith last November for the premier of the Tell Them of Us film, I knew how she tended to dress, and her skin colour.

There weren’t two lots of the same fibre in the colours I was after, so I got two different ones, both on the same fibre base (Polworth). Both had the blue and the green, but one had the orange and the other a khaki green. When they came they both looked gorgeous and felt gorgeous!

I had already decided to spin each braid on a separate bobbin, and then to ply the bobbins, but I wasn’t sure how I would split the top before pre-drafting it. In the end I decided to pull each braid in half lengthways, then each half in half again. So I was working with 4 pieces. If one end of the top is A and the other end is B, I span the first A-to-B, the second B-to-A, etc.

The fibre was very easy to draft. I wanted a slightly thick-and-thin yarn of about worsted weight. Each 100g fitted nicely on to one of my Bliss bobbins.

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I plied as a standard 2 ply. As one bobbin was spun a week before the other, I did bathe-test ‘yards’ in warm water to relax the twist before working out the amount of twist needed for a balanced yarn. (But no, I didn’t take a pic!!) One bobbin ended up with a slightly longer length that the other, but not enough to do anything about.

Once plied, it appeared to be a bit over plied…..

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… but once it was dry, it was perfectly balanced.

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The two skins were then packed off to Judith! Fortunately she liked them, made the skeins into cakes straight away, and then swatched.

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She is going to make a cabled hat. Hopefully she will let us see it when finished!

Book Review: Vintage Knits for Babies by Rita Taylor

Rita Taylor 001

I have been spending a lot of time on my own books recently, so when I was asked to review this one I jumped at the chance! Rita has looked at patterns from before 1920 up to the 1950s and updated them for today’s knitter. A wide variety of yarns are used, most of them standard 4 ply/fingerings and DKs.

I have known Rita and her designs online for a while, but this was the first time I had seen one of her books. As I opened the packet I was immediately struck by the cover – a gorgeous photo which makes you want to open up to see more. This is a hardback book which feels good in the hand.

Rita Taylor 003 The inside did not disappoint! The layout involves plenty of space round the instructions, and the bold type of row numbers and the headings of the different pieces make it easy to keep your place. This is a book to use as well as to look at.

Rita Taylor 006The photography inside the book is as good as the cover! There are several photos of each garment both on and off the baby, and you can see clearly how each garment is made up. I say ‘garment’, but there are also some gorgeously ‘old-fashioned’ toys in the book too.

Rita Taylor 002The patterns are grouped by use and include both special occasion and every-day clothing. Most patterns have two sizes, some have three. There are plenty of pretty dresses for the girls, but boys are not forgotten, and I adore the ‘sun suit’ with yachts worked in knit and purl.

Rita Taylor 005This is a book which will be useful for mums, grannies and friends! There are plenty of pretty and useful clothes here, many of which would make excellent gifts. Bootees and bonnets, blankets and bricks.

Rita Taylor 004I have many books of baby patterns, most with two or three patterns I have knitted. But this book is a definite ‘desert island’ book. Everything in it calls out to be knitted. And being vintage, the shapes have stood the test of time. These patterns will not date.

Rita Taylor 007Definitely a must-have book!

Vintage Knits for Babies by Rita Taylor, published by Jacqui Small
ISBN 978-1-909342-81-1 Price £20/US$29.99