Thursday, 26 February 2015

Inject Some Colour Into Your Knitting

Stripes are the simplest way to introduce more colours to a piece of knitting. They’re also great for using up odd balls of yarn. Here are some excellent striped projects to celebrate this classic, colourful technique!




Top Row (L-R): Minnie from Sublime Booklet 676, Celeste from Rowan Magazine 55, Mina in Mirage and Bucaneve

Middle Row (L-R): Olle Socks & Mittens from Aran & Nordic Knits for Kids, Bag from Sublime Booklet 670, Tribe from Scarlet

Bottom Row (L-R): Imperial from Studio 23, Helene in Alpaca Silk 4 Ply, Matelot from Sublime Pattern 6013

Friday, 6 February 2015

Block Party



My favourite thing about these KnitPro blocking mats is the way they slot together in a really satisfying way. It’s one of those simple pleasures, fitting a jigsaw piece into its proper place, but magnified onto a giant fun-sized scale. The mats fit together perfectly - there’s no twisting or squashing to persuade them into place and, once joined, it’s easy to move the whole board without any of the pieces coming loose or being left behind.




Although these are technically called lace blocking mats, I found them to be more than up to the task of blocking DK and aran weight crochet squares. They were capable of supporting several squares per mat, with just a pin in each corner, and there was no risk of the mats curving or folding as the squares were stretched over them.


One pleasantly surprising thing about these blocking mats is how quickly they dry. They basically feel like the foam used for swimming pool floats so, unlike the carpet and towels that formerly served all of my blocking needs, they don’t absorb water from the knitting/crochet and leave the work pinned to a damp surface that takes as long to dry as, well, a wet carpet or towel. These squares were pretty well saturated with water and, with the board propped up in front of a radiator, they took about two hours to dry. Lighter weight yarn, like 2ply or lace, would dry even faster.


They’re also SUPER lightweight so you can prop them up against even the flimsiest of supports (like this plant) and they remain steady.


Really, my only complaint with these mats - and it’s quite a petty one - is that I don’t really like the colours. Orange, green and blue would never be my first choice of palettes but, even so, it is not without merit. Light and dark colours alike would show up easily against these bright colours and, even if the main colour of your project is worked in one of these shades, one of the others is bound to provide a contrast!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

New Year: New Skills

We often start a new year hoping to kick-start some new habits along with it. These are usually motivated by reasons like “because it’s good for you” rather than reasons like “because it’s good fun”. And those reasons are very admirable but not always, ultimately, very motivating. With that in mind, here are some lovely projects for the new year, which will be fun enough to motivate you to learn some new knitting skills in 2015:

Fair Isle Skills
Why not introduce some more colour to your knitting and use up some of your stash? There are some beautiful small projects in Nicki Trench’s Fair Isle & Nordic Knits to inspire you:




Chart Reading Skills

If the look of lace or colourwork knitting has always tempted you, but you fear the charts and symbols, Charts Made Simple is definitely the book for you. This book is very clearly written, covering charts for lace, cables and Fair Isle. It features all commonly used chart symbols, pictured alongside written explanations and photographs of how each stitch looks knitted in a pattern.


Charts Made Simple:  Understanding Knitting  Charts Visually by JC Briar

This book also covers a wide number of less commonly used symbols, and tells you what their standard equivalent would be. It also lists things to watch out for, such as when shaping symbols are omitted in colourwork charts, and is chock-full of handy tips for diagnosing your knitting and figuring out where you are in a pattern. Charts Made Simple is a gem of a book, and an invaluable resource for tackling charts.

Lace Knitting Skills



With it’s feather-light look, and balls of yarn with 400m per 50g (like Rowan Fine Lace, Artesano Alpaca Silk Lace and Sublime Merino Lace to name but a few yarns with marvellous meterage), lace knitting has a lot going for it. As for resources, The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting is as useful as it is beautiful.

   

This book is a great introduction to the history and the methodology of lace knitting, and doubles as a stitch directory featuring photographs and instructions for dozens of lace stitches. Each stitch has both charted and written instructions, so you can pick whichever you find easiest, and there is a lot of useful advice about combining different lace patterns to create larger pieces of work.

So why not challenge yourself to learn a new knitting skill this year? It will open up new patterns and yarns to you, so your knitting can be even more fun!