Yes I remember back in January when I did the #31daychallenge that it was meant to get me blogging more regularly but over the past week the building work has had to take priority. We’re still living on ready meals (albeit very delicious ones from Cook), we’re still at the mercy of a temperamental immersion heater that produces water so hot it’s like standing under a boiling kettle so we switch it off 8 hours before we actually want to shower and yes I’m still washing the dishes in a plastic crate in the bath. BUT we’re definitely on the home straight.
The walls have now been plastered and the first ‘miscoats’ of white emulsion paint applied. I’m actually a little worried about how much light bounces around the newly extended kitchen / dining / lounge room. When I was painting last week it was so eye piercingly bright that it actually caused a migraine – no really, I’m serious. I had to take two Sumatriptan and go to bed for an hour. Thankfully Sam and my nephew Jas were both around to pick up the slack, it’s amazing how hard a 19 year old will work when there’s hard cash involved. Anyway we’re definitely making progress – well the builders are – and we may even take delivery of the new kitchen by the end of the week. So with all this going on I completely forgot that my latest design has just been published in the July issue of Knitting Magazine.
On The Tiles is a simply shaped clutch bag knitted in a pure wool yarn that’s then felted in a washing machine. It’s knitted in The Little Grey Sheep Hampshire Chunky which is a yarn I first saw when I visited Unravel back in February and I have to admit it was love at first sight. It’s rounded with a soft, lofty feel and a hints of black/grey and ecru that add lots of interest to the colour. I normally start with a sketch of the design but in this case we (that’s my editor Christine and I) had got chatting to Emma from TLGS about the possibility of a design and I had to select the colours then and there. It wasn’t easy as the range of shades that Emma has put together is truly tempting and although I went for my usual spicy combinations of rust, reds and pinks I thought it would be interesting to venture in a different direction colourwise.
Each of the 19 colours is intriguingly named after places and people in Hampshire so rather than my default combo of Mickelmersh (a weathered rust) and Sense and Sensibility (pinky brick red) I eventually plumped for Dragon Racing (a dirty teal) and Walking the St Swithuns Way (a gobliny green with a touch of yellow).
Having chosen colours I knew that I wanted a stitch that would work as a stripe with some sort of texture where one colour ‘intruded’ in some way onto the next. I absolutely love the swatching process and after a few experiments found the combination of slipping certain stitches then eventually knitting them ‘out of order’ created an elongated stitch that worked as I’d imagined. As an added bonus it also created a scalloped edge that could be used as a feature cast on at the opening edge of the finished bag. I’ll admit that the stitch pattern does take a while to get your brain around it but if my wonky brain can manage then I’m sure you’re up to the challenge.
Once knitted the bag is felted and then the making up process begins. Now I really am not a fan of saggy knitted bags so as well as felting I thought that lining the bag with a heavyweight interfacing would help the bag keep it’s shape when used. I’ve recommended pelmet interfacing but since making the bag have found that Decovil interfacing has a nice heavyweight that works better. It’s slightly more expensive than standard interfacing but worth it for the quality, I found it here at Cotton Patch where you can buy it by the 1/4 metre. As it’s not the most straight forward making up process to interface and insert the lining into the bag so I’ll be posting a tutorial over on the website (which is currently being updated) so keep an eye out for that. I’d be interested to hear what you think about the design and would love to see what colour combinations you’ll be coming up with when you make your version of On The Tiles ( use #onthetilesclutchbag on twitter and Instagram and I’ll find you). Oh and the name? The way that one coloured stripe stacks on top of the next reminded me of tiles, plus it’s a great sized bag for carry the basics when you’re on a night out. Or perhaps it’s the influence of all this building work….
In the meantime I’d better get some knitting done, I’ve got a couple of design submissions to work on….and kitchen appliances to source.
This design was originally published in issue 95 of Knitting magazine so I have to admit to being more than a little lax in adding it to the website. In fact I didn’t realise it was missing until I got a message from a lovely member on Ravelry asking where she could get a hold of the pattern. (Thanks kubakat, I owe you). So, having done a bit of wizadry I’ve now formatted the pattern which is finally available to download in pdf form from both the website and my Ravelry Pattern Store.
It’s a boldy coloured design worked in the round on double pointed needles which is created using the modular knitting method. For those who don’t know that means after knitting the initial square, each subsequent square is added by using a combination of casting on and picking up stitches into the base of previously cast on edges. It also means that once all 21 squares have been knitted the amount of final making up is kept to a minimum ~ good news for those of you who hate all that sewing up. That said, the colourful stripe effect is achieved by using Anchor’s Wash & Filz It Multicolour yarn with odd stripes of solid contrast yarns thrown in to create flashes of interest. Whilst this does give a great effect all this chopping and changing of yarns does however mean that there are lots of ends to sew in as you can see below.
Once all the ends have been dealt with and the bag sewn together the pointed top edge of the bag is completed to create a straight edge then it’s off to the washing machine for felting…actually strictly speaking that should be fulling but I’ve called it felting for so long that using any other word seems odd.
Whatever your preferred word the process of shrinking makes the bag more rigid and blurs the striped squares taking it from this….
A simple wooden handle sourced from Kleins (London) attached with leather thonging completes the tribal look. Since designing the bag the handle has actually been discontinued but a similar style can be found at www.sewinspiring.co.uk.
Just like waiting for a bus, no blog posts for ages and then they come along in threes, alright two, but you know what I mean.
Hot on the heels of the Pyjama Case in the March issue of Knitting comes my latest design in Knitting’s April issue 88, the Orient Doctor’s Bag.
I really feel in my element designing bags and with every design I try to improve on the finishing touches that mean the difference between something that looks ‘homemade’ and something that’s been handmade.
This design marries the types of patterning and motifs you might find on Far Eastern carpets with the generous domed Doctor’s bag shape. ‘Orient’ is mainly knitted using a single end of JC Rennie’s Chunky Aran & Jamieson & Smith’s Shetland Aran though for a couple of colours I used 3 ends of JC Rennie’s Unique Shetland 4plyto bring it up to an approximate Aran weight. I also had to make a conscious effort to stay away from my usual palette of Autumnal browns & reds or bright pinks & orange and work with what for me is a fresher colour story, ocean blue, azure, mint, marzipan, white and ochre.
The gently curved sides of the bag are charted and worked in intarsia combined with Swiss darning to create the ‘background’ patterning. On top of that twisted chainstitch, regular chainstitch, French knots and bullion knots are used to work the 3 dimensional tendrils, flowers and buds. As with my Eastwood bag‘Orient’s base creates a contrast both in terms of pattern and texture and because the base of the bag is likely to get the dirtiest I chose to use the dark blue ( Ocean Force sh 1048 ) as the main colour for the stranded pattern accented with white and ochre which also picks up the colour of the bag’s brass feet. A purl stitch stripe breaks up an otherwise plain stocking stitch top panel and strongly coloured horizontal stripes focus the eye on the chunky zip fastener and its tassled pull ( the zip is inserted after the bag has been felted ).
Once again I’ve been drooling over the pages of product over at UHandbag.com and chosen the best hardware I could find to give the bag a professional touch. The bronze bag feet, chocolate brown Italian Piped Leather handles and bag bottom are all available there. (Thanks Lisa).
I’ll be posting a tutorial on how to make up the bag base for this design in the next couple of weeks. There’s been a slight ‘oops’ in the printed instructions on page 80 of the magazine and the key to symbols is missing. Apologies all round but I’ve added one here
I’ve been really lax about posting over the last couple of weeks but I honestly haven’t been idle, though I must admit to watching a few too many episodes of ‘Law & Order’ whilst I work. My latest design for The Knitter is now available and the photos look brilliant. It’s always difficult to imagine exactly how a project will look when photographed especially when you’re not the one holding the camera. (In my case I should say it’s sometimes my husband who does my photographs – well it IS his job and he’s far better at it than I www.samsloan.co.uk).
Eastwood is a curved bottomed bag worked in a combination of techniques. The front & back sections are knitted in an argyle inspired intarsia pattern using the wonderfully richly coloured Noro Kureyon on 6.50 mm needles. Of course when working intarsia it’s normal to work with a new ball / colour for each different motif but in order to accentuate the diamond pattern you need to prepare the yarn before casting on. This means using each major change in the colourway as a ‘new’ colour and seperating the 100g ball into lots of mini balls. You can then pick out the neutral or hot tones within the yarn ( I chose to focus on the hotter orange, pink, yellow ) and plan out where you want the colours to occur on the chart .
The gusset and pocket are worked on smaller needles in fairisle using a doubled end of Jamieson & Smith’s 2ply Jumperweight in colours that echo the tones of the Kureyon. There’s a nice textural contrast between the chunky reverse stocking stitch of the front/back and the finer weight stocking stitch gusset. Felting ( or should I say fulling ) after it’s knitted blurs the colours and shrinks the bag for a more sturdy fabric and although I don’t usually line my bags I really felt ( oops – no pun intended ) that in this case it was necessary to help with the bulbous shape. The gorgeous leather handle in delicious chocolate brown comes from U-Handbag, mmm I could spend some serious money there.
Here in the UK it’s officially winter as the clocks went back this weekend. There’s been a lot of talk about whether we should still be changing the clocks for the end of British Summer Time but we didn’t get much of a summer here in Edinburgh so the change at least means that we can officially stop looking to the skies first thing in the morning in the vain hope that the sun will make an appearance impressive enough for us to only need one layer instead of three. As a January born baby I like this time of year for lots of knitting, wrapping up warm in long boots with skirts ( plus a top of course ) and storing edible goodies, hence Mrs Sloan’s Homemade pickles. ( By the way, just one of Mr Sloan’s pickled chillis nearly took our heads off on Saturday ). So to celebrate November and the official start of British Winter Time I’ve got 2 more patterns for you which are available for download from the website.
Firstly there’s Gladstone Bag which was first published in The Knitter issue 10 so if you missed that issue of the magazine this is your chance to get a copy of the pattern.
Knitted in Jamieson & Smiths 2ply Jumperweight the bag is beaded in 2 colours with intarsia motifs on the sides with a brightly contrasting base worked in slip stitch stripes. Felting helps to give the bag it’s structure and embroidery stitches such as backstitch, bullion knots & Pekinese stitch create a riot of texture reminiscent of the Marrakesh souk that inspired the design. If you haven’t tried felting or colourwork before I probably wouldn’t recommend this as your first project but if you have tackled basic intarsia & beading and fancy a bit of a challenge then this is a satisfying project to knit. The stunningly classy Lucite bag handle is the final finishing touch and available from Pavi Yarns here
The bright bullion knots and buttons are applied after felting
The chainstitch & Pekinese stitch edges are applied before felting and the tassels are attached afterwards at the centres
Next there’s Clem’s Lace which is a beautifully soft scarf named after my grandmother Clementine.
Worked in an undulating lace pattern the double decreases and yarn overs give the scarf soft bumping side edges. It’s knitted flat in two pieces which are grafted together at the centre using Kitchener stitch so that the pattern is mirrored towards the centre. I’ve used my Worsted spun 100% cashmere and the yarn takes on another level of softness when you block and pin out the scarf. Just give it a gentle blast of steam with an iron and it becomes much more full and rounded which makes the finished scarf even more dreamily soft. The pattern includes both charted and written instructions and is suitable for knitters of advanced beginner level and upwards.
Enjoy the new patterns and pinch and a punch for the first of the month. (No returns )
I don’t just like designing bags, I LOVE designing bags. Even as a child I was fascinated by the various bags and accessories in my mum’s wardrobe, and as a God-fearing Bajan woman my mum went to church twice every Sunday elegantly turned out in a fab outfit finished off with a killer hat and co-ordinating bag. Now as an adult I’m not one of those shoe obsessed women, I’m proud to say that I’m a bag lady.
This bag is knitted using my felted bag yarn of choice, Jamieson & Smith’s 2ply Jumperweight. Like the Gladstone Bag I designed for The Knitter, I’ve used the yarn doubled to make it DK. The large scale florals are worked using the intarsia technique with bullion knots and beads worked at the centre of each flower and the swirling foliage Swiss darned into the background after knitting. Felting not only tightens up the fabric to make the bag more substantial and less likely to sag when used but also blurs the colours slightly, almost like taking down the colour setting on the TV, ( does that make sense?).
In terms of difficulty if you haven’t tried intarsia before this probably shouldn’t be your first project as there are lots of colour changes and therefore ends to deal with at the flower centres. If you have knitted intarsie before it’s a really enjoyable project to do, just enough changes to make it interesting with all the flowers placed to the right of the bag and then a contrast of a plain background to knit in stocking stitch. I thought the dark colour of the background would be too ‘heavy’ against the bright flowers so it’s broken up with curls of Swiss darning. The beads and bullion knots are added after felting, you could add a lot more knots, use much bigger beads or even small buttons at the centres.
Although I tend not to line my bags I have lined this one and finished it off with a curved bamboo handle from Bags of Handles.
As a bit of a control freak I normally plan every stage of a design so I know – or think I know – exactly how it will turn out.
Well this design wasn’t like that and has turned out far better than I could have hoped. I LOVE IT! Published in The Knitter magazine, issue 10 which is now available it’s knitted in Jamieson & Smith’s 2ply Jumper weight which is fantastic for felting and then embroidered and embellished with buttons.
Oh yes there are beads knitted into it too for a touch of bling.You can take the girl out of Essex . . . . .