Saturday, 19 November 2011

Twist Collective: Darlington

I'm currently enjoying the weather and the company in beautiful (and cold) Washington State as I spend Thanksgiving with my family. Adding to that, I'm ecstatic to be featured in the newest issue of Twist Collective.

Photo credit: Jane Heller, Twist Collective

Photo credit: Jane Heller, Twist Collective

I also made my own pair (in Size Large) from some handspun I made from gorgeous Oatmeal BFL. They have been my constant companions this Winter.

The pattern is available for $6.00 from the Twist Collective. Or Ravel it.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Gismonda Tutorial: 4 st Decrease

I found myself in possession of a tripod this weekend, and various other tools that allowed me to finally fulfill my commitment to immortalizing this stitch (for Gismonda) in pictures. Kristen has very, very patiently waited for this, so I hope you find it useful, Kristen!

This stitch is a series of passing knit stitches over each other, then decreasing the final resulting knit stitch into the preceding purl stitch to make the results virtually invisible (at least, as invisible as you can get).

You start with 1 purl st and the 4 knit stitches you're going to decrease on your left-hand needle. The yarn is to the back of the work.

Slip the next 2 sts (the purl st and the first knit st) purl-wise, keeping the yarn at the back.

Then, you use the tip of the right-hand needle to slip the second st on the left-hand needle...

...over the first st on the left-hand needle. That's one st decreased.

Slip that resulting st from the left-hand needle back to the right-hand needle. Note that the working yarn isn't being used right now, so is still being held at the back of the work.

Now pass the second st on the right-hand needle over the first st on the right-hand needle, decreasing another stitch.

And slip that resulting st back to the left-hand needle.

Then slip the second st on the left-hand needle over the first again, like you did with the first decrease. You've decreased 3 sts so far.

And it will look like this! All that is is the side sts of the cable passed over a (somewhat) center stitch.

Slip that first purl st from the right-hand needle to the left-hand needle so it sits next to the decreased clump of knit stitches.

Bring the yarn to the front

and purl those stitches together.

And you're done! Decrease completed. You can carry on with your reverse stockinette stitch.

Saturday, 24 September 2011


I have a few more things coming up on this oft-neglected blog, including a tutorial for those trick decreases in Gismonda, but as I wait on a second pair of hands, I'll brighten what can be a somewhat dim nearly-fall day with a sale!

Until midnight GMT on Sunday (that's tomorrow, folks!), I'm offering 25% off all individual patterns and 10% off all (already discounted) collections (Gwynedd and Light and Shade) in my Ravelry Store.

That's Lady of the Blue Forest for £2.25 and the whole collection of 8 patterns in Light and Shade for £10.80!

 Happy shopping!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Technique Tuesday: Finishing

Something I always struggled with when I first started to knit (and let's face it, some things still befuddle me), is finishing techniques. Seaming and weaving in ends were never my friends. My seams were always too bulky, and my ends always worked their ways to the front of the fabric and waved at me like little flags, always there to signal my failure at finishing.

Fortunately, a few very gracious people are out there to help people like me!

The Purl Bee posted this great photo tutorial on weaving in ends in all sorts of different ways, so you can find which is best for your project:

The Duplicate Stitch Way

 And Sandi Rosner of Twist Collective seems to have written this article on seams directly for me. I'll definitely have it close at hand once I go to sew up my next non-seamless garment (which might not be for a while, but she's made me brave!).

Now to suck it up and learn how to steek...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Raisin Cookies for British Bakers

I was basically raised on cookies (if you see early pictures of me, you can probably tell), and on this recipe in particular. Americans will probably recognize it as the recipe on the box/tin/bag of Quaker Oats. It's a wonderful mixture of oats and brown sugar and - with my additions - chocolate and raisins that is wonderfully hearty and just simply wonderful. It was my go-to cookie recipe, until I moved to the UK.

Every time I tried to replicate the recipe here in Britain, it never turned out right. The cookies just turned out really, really flat and with a bit of a greasy sheen, which I knew, from experience, wasn't right.

It wasn't until I was doing some research last night that I stumbled across people who actually knew something about baking and I discovered that, despite what everyone and everything tells you, all-purpose flour and plain flour are not the same. They should be perfectly interchangeable for cakes, bar cookies and quick breads, but when it comes to drop cookies and American recipes, you'll want to do something else.

If you're in the UK and are trying an American drop cookie recipe, use at least half and half of  (Strong) White Bread Flour and Plain Flour to substitute for all purpose, or add an extra 25% of plain flour on top of what the recipe suggests for all-purpose. Plain flour doesn't have enough protein (gluten) to counteract all the other ingredients recommended in American recipes, and protein is what holds everything together. The gluten in plain flour is lower than in all-purpose, and this really shows when my drop cookies end up like greasy oatmeal paper instead of the little hills of heaven that they should be. Like these. Yum.

Oatmeal Chocolate Raisin Cookies for British Bakers

225g butter, softened
200g soft brown sugar
110g granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (licking any spilled bourbon-based vanilla extract from your hand is not recommended)
85g plain flour
85g strong white flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt (use 1/2 tsp if using unsalted butter)
270g porridge oats (I prefer traditional cut)
250g of chocolate covered raisins (I prefer these to chocolate chips, as many British chocolate chips are too small and often get lost in these cookies)

Preheat oven to 180° C.

Beat butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until well-combined. 

Mix in flours, bicarbonate of soda, and salt, then the oats and chocolate covered raisins. Form cookies into small balls (I use a small ice cream scoop with a release lever), place on baking paper on tray, and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before moving them to the cooling rack so they don't fall apart.

Thanks to the internet for the help in achieving my dream cookie in the UK!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

New Knitty, New Pattern!

Have you seen the new Knitty? It has some pretty awesome patterns. I especially like Leaflet by the wonderful Cecily Glowik McDonald.

She never fails to provide great, simple lines with beautiful details!
I'm also especially glad that Knitty, particularly Knittyspin, gave me the first opportunity to publish a new pattern featuring handspun yarn: Kuusk!

Kuusk was made from my first truly usable handspun yarn: pure merino, spun into a single of lace weight thickness and gently fulled. I have a lovely wheel now, but this yarn was a practice of patience on my 18g oak top whorl spindle, and I'm so happy I got to do something so special with it. I wanted an interesting Estonian lace pattern to show off the texture of the yarn while making it open enough so that the slightly thick-thin texture wouldn't overpower the design. Big needles and a sloping edging help achieve these goals.

It only takes about 220 yards of lace weight yarn (Malabrigo lace is a very good sub in case you don't have any suitable handspun of your own), and the pattern is, of course, free, so go knit, and enjoy!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Light and Shade: Now Available!

I may be a bad blogger, but I have my excuses - I've been getting Light and Shade ready to go! And ready it is:
A lacy collection with a dash of cabled lines. Light and Shade features 8 patterns from designer Ashley Knowlton, including three light and fitted sweater patterns that are perfect for Spring and Summer. Every pattern features fully written instructions and charts where appropriate.

This also means that all 8 patterns are also now available for individual download from my Ravelry Store.

Happy knitting!

for 12.00 GBP.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Spring Collection Preview

Getting ready to release some of my patterns for the new season, some things have taken longer than I thought, while others are ready to go, so I thought it would only be fair to start releasing those patterns that are ready go into the world!

I have just released Lady of the Blue Forest for individual sale. Later this Spring, it will also be part of new pattern collection, featuring the patterns below. Keep an eye on my blog and my Ravelry designer page, and I'll let you know when each pattern is available, plus when the collection finally makes its fashionably late appearance!

Lady of the Blue Forest

From this Day Forward

Shells and Sea Glass Beret

Summer's Day

Wind and Willow

And finally...

The collection will be available as a Ravelry download for 12 GBP (price subject to change). In the meantime, keep track of the individual patterns are they're released on my Ravelry group!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Springtime and New Patterns

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Can I made up for it with some pretty pictures?

I'm also putting the finishing touches (well, a lot of finishing touches, but finishing ones, nonetheless!) on my Spring/Summer collection, with a hesitant release date of mid to late May. The most exciting thing about it? We're heading to Spain for the photoshoot!

Okay, well, not actually for the photo shoot, actually to see our wonderful family, but knitwear will be a nice distraction from the beautiful scenery and sunshine. I've finished the samples and am now indulging in a bit of lightweight non-design knitting while I get all the technical bits done. In the meantime, here's a bit of a preview for you:

Lady of the Blue Forest

Lady of the Golden Leaf (Triangle version of shawl above)

As always, there's lots more to see on my Ravelry Projects Page!

And before I forget, The Sanguine Gryphon recently released this little beauty as part of their Spring collection:


Happy knitting!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The rumours are true...

...there's going to be a Spring and Summer collection!

This season's focus will be light-weight yarns, bright colours, and we'll have a few garments thrown into the mix. I'm working hard to get the samples and patterns ready, but it's coming together well, and I'm aiming for a release of April-May. Will keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, you can watch my Ravelry Group or my Twitter feed for calls for test knitting.  You can also keep an eye on my Ravelry Notebook page, where the samples keep popping up!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Charity of the Quarter: January-March 2011

To be honest, I spend most of my time thinking about puppies. This is Year 8 that I've been without a dog, and the momentary joy I see when a person walking their dog goes past (Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Highland Terrier, I love them all!) is all but surpassed by the overwhelming urge to go somewhere and get a dog.

But I can't. Not yet anyway, since we still live in rented accommodation where no pets are allowed. At least it gives me great incentive to save my money for a mortgage.

So in the meantime, I thought I'd dedicate the first quarter of the year to one of my favourite pet charities: the RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). They do great work in re-homing animals of all kinds (dogs to horses, cats to former battery chickens), investigating cases of animal cruelty, and promoting legislation that will give animals due respect and protection.


This means that 10% of my pattern proceeds from January through March of 2011 will be donated to the RSPCA.

Why not go check out their website, and see if you have room in your home and your life for a new best friend?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A Search for Signs of Spring

I love self-employment, if only for the fact that I dictate the hours of my day. To be honest, most of my days are spent working pretty frantically for a deadline. But since I'm 50% Tech Editor and 50% Designer, when I have the luxury, I like to split my day in half, and spend the time of transition doing something I enjoy.

Today was a walk, in search of design inspiration and signs of Spring. And by Spring I really mean lambs. Except for the fact that it's still cold enough to flare up my exercise allergy (I wish I weren't serious about that), the blue skies made up for it.

So I went on a walk, only to find a lack of sheep. In Wales.

Not even in our back yard.

In short, it was shocking. And the taunting evidence of this mythic sheep was not helping.


I stumbled upon other signs of Spring along the way. Though not nearly as cute as lambs (because let's face it, nothing is), they were promising:

The snow drops were snow dropping

The blue tits were tittering

There was even a cat, which to poor, pet-starved person such as myself, is a big deal.

This was as close as I could get to it.

Finally, at the end of an arduous journey uphill, past empty field after empty field and with itchy, itchy legs (allergies!), I found my reward.



 Task completed. Now it's time to get back to work.