There’s been a significant lack of knitting & designing going on in my life recently and rather than bang on about the reasons why I thought instead that I’d focus on something more positive. My latest design for issue 122 of The Knitter magazine which has just hit the shops.
‘Riley Stripe’ is a design that’s partly inspired by the work of British painter Brigit Riley. Her signature Op Art paintings play with simple geometric shapes like squares, circles and rectangles to stunning optical effect. She began her first Op Art paintings in 1960 whilst on a part time teaching post at Hornsey College of Art initially choosing to work just in black and white and only cautiously introducing colour from around 1967. At this stage she began to explore the precise placement of colour, line and shape in addition to the grouping of colour in order to convey a feeling of movement in the paintings which led onto works like Cataract 3 below.
Anyway back to this design….
More generously proportioned than a simple scarf I’d call this more of a wrap as the size makes it perfect for draping around the shoulders to keep out the slightest chill and it’s lightweight enough for wearing whatever the season. Riley Stripe features two different stitch patterns, each made up of a combination of slip stitch blocks, single columns and garter stitch stripes.
The first section of the wrap begins with a two colour cast on and a textured pattern with large blocks of slip stitch alternated with garter stitch stripes. These square blocks create a series of attractive curves up the side edge of the piece that eventually become the bottom edge of the wrap once you’ve picked up from the other side edge to knit the longer section in the smaller scale pattern.
This is really a design that explores contrasts; there’s both large and small scale pattern plus the ‘pick up and knit’ off the side edge of section one which places them at 90 degrees to each other. Then there’s the contrasting yarns which both come from the Isager yarn range. It might seem slightly odd to bring together Highland Wool (a 100% wool light fingering weight) with Viscolin (a 50% viscose 50% linen 4ply weight) but I really love the mix and actually it was playing with yarn combinations that inspired this particular match. As well as being beautifully lightweight the finished knitted fabric has a softness and warmth but there’s also a lovely bouncy quality due to the garter stitch. Once the finished wrap has been cast off (a two colour cast off to match the cast on of course) and given a gentle block and steam it also drapes like a dream.
If you haven’t tried a two colour cast on before I’m planning to do a couple of video tutorials to demonstrate this and the two colour cast off so keep an eye out for a blog post when they’re done. There really aren’t any other tricky techniques to master other than that and once you’re set for alternating the yarns it’s a really enjoyable knit, especially if you’ve had enough of heavy winter projects.
Brigit Riley may well have used black & white to knit her version of Riley Stripe but as you know I’m very much from ‘the brighter the better’ school of thought so I chose to use Highland Wool in Rhubarb (shade 3) and Viscolin in shade 40. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating and knitting this design and really hope you like it too.
The reason you’ve not heard a lot from me over the last week is because I had a busy and stressful week that was thankfully peppered with the odd joyful moment that kept me from falling into utter panic. Back in the days of the old brain the design commission I was working on would generally have taken me less than a week to knit, then translate into written pattern instructions with charts for submission to the appropriate magazine. However with the new brain it turns out that even knitting one of my own designs whilst enjoyable, was also exhausting and frustrating almost in equal measure.
The design in question is a simple slash neck sweater in mosaic and purl stitch texture and it was originally designed last March (I think) before the brain squatters were diagnosed. Having decided on a simple, easy to wear silhouette I was really looking forward to getting started. Having cast on and knitted the first few repeats I thought I’d got the hang of the 16 row pattern. Then of course I’d lose where I was or just rock on for a few rows forgetting to decrease when needed so back I’d go, rip, rip, ripping it out and cursing under my breath. Damn brain! It took longer than planned and took more yarn than requested due to a definite difference between Rowan’s old denim and the new definitely skinnier-in-the-fingers ‘Original Denim’. (Just a word of caution, if you’re planning on knitting a vintage Rowan Denim design using the newer yarn take the time to swatch before you cast on for the garment).
By the time I’d finished sewing it up over a year after it was originally submitted although I’m happy with the results my lack of confidence issues mean there were lots of nagging doubts whilst I was knitting and praying that the commissioning magazine is equally as pleased. Oh and that it fits ok.
It was only once I’d cleared the decks and finally posted the garment off that I could truly, truly relax. I’m not sure in what issue of the The Knitter it will appear but here’s a little sneak peek of the lovely purl and mosaic textures.
I was very flattered back in 2008 when I was asked to be one of the first designers to design for The Knitter which was first published in January 2009. Fast forward to 2013 and a few of my own designs later The Knitter have recently published Knitting Masterclass. It’s an inspiring collection of 20 technical workshops exploring techniques such as Double Knitting, Steeking, Combination Knitting and Lace. The techniques are brilliantly explained with clear instructions and helpful step-by-step photography which means you don’t need to feel intimidated by learning something new. As well as the workshops the book also includes 15 beautiful patterns which allow you to try out your newly acquired skills including my own Baird, a chunky cabled neckwarmer which is grafted at the centre and follows the Kitchener Stitch masterclass.
I’ve got 2 copies of this must have book to give away to 2 lucky knitters. All you have to do to win a copy is post a comment on this blog telling me which technique you’ve always wanted to master and why. Simple as that! Comments are open to posting until midnight March 31st 2013. Only one entry per person please (to make things fair). There are 2 copies to be won (one per winner) and entries are open worldwide. The winners will be chosen at random and will be informed shortly after the closure date.
Edited by Juliet Bernard
Published by Collins & Brown
PLEASE NOTE THAT COMMENTS TO THIS POST ARE NOW CLOSED
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 )
Knitting, tea AND cake – surely a match made in heaven, yes?! Well why not combine all 3 for a good cause
The Knitter magazine and Mencap are urging knitters everywhere to grab their knitting needles, bung on the kettle and put on a Make and Bake tea party, to help raise money for the learning disability charity Mencap. Not only that, but if you hold a Make and Bake event you could be in with the chance to win a fabulous prize – 2 tickets for the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in October.
The tea parties are a simple, enjoyable way for knitters to raise money for a good cause ( as I said you’re off to a pretty good start with the tea and the cake ) so to help people get started, Mencap and The Knitter have put together a fundraising pack which is packed full of handy fundraising tips and recipes for delicious summer treats.
To enter the competition all you need to do is take a picture from your Make and Bake event and send it into Mencap. The winning shot will be the picture that best captures the spirit of Make and Bake and the winner will be the proud owner of two crisp tickets to the Twisted Thread Knitting and Stitching Show 2010 at Alexandra Palace on 7th – 10th October 2010.
The closing date for the competition is Monday 20th September, so be sure to submit your entries to Mencap by then, you can submit up to five images per person and the sizes shouldn’t exceed 2MB per image. Either email your pics to email@example.com or post them to:
Make and Bake competition
123 Golden Lane
Make sure you include your name, full address, email address and a contact number.
Just taking a quick break from blocking a new design before I get started on the embroidery to post a couple of pics of my latest design published in The Knitter. It’s a pretty child’s design called ‘Chrysalis’ which I think is the perfect party cardigan for a little girl and is knitted in Lang Yarns’ Merino 150. I’ll be posting more next week with tips and how to’s for the embroidery-shy amongst you but for now . .