Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Picot Bind-Off: It's a love-hate relationship

I'm in the process of finishing the Picot Pi and (as the name suggests) I'm binding off picot-style. At over one thousand stitches, this is a lengthy and repetitive process. But, the end result will be worth the wait.

Picot literally means 'small loop' and describes the bobbles at the cast-off edge, which are produced by adding more stitches immediately before binding off. Incorporating the picot bind-off will result in a very flexible, wider garment at the outer edge of the piece. In other words, it adds drape.

Picot Bind-Off Detail for Ammonite 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Design Digest: Revisiting the Ammonite Prototype

Following a few enquiries from the knittersphere regarding the prototype Ammonite in grey, which eventually evolved into the Ammonite pattern, I finally found the time to write up my recollections, which might help with the queries I recently received. 

Apologies for such a late response to all those who got in touch!

Ammonite Mark 2 Pattern instructions available here

Ammonite Mark 3, Project Notes are available here

Unfortunately, I didn't take any notes when knitting my freestyle Ammonite prototype. Below you will find some pointers, which might be useful, should you wish to achieve a different appearance from the final Ammonite pattern: 


Freestyle Ammonite


Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Weekly Swatch: Fisherman's Rib Stitch




Fisherman's Rib is one my all-time favourite stitches. Primarily used for thick and stretchy garments, the motif can either be achieved by picking up yarn and wrapping it round the needle followed by decreasing; or by knitting into the stitch directly below the knit stitch and purling the following stitch. For the sample below, I used the latter method.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Weekly Swatch: Fern Stitch Variation

Many lace stitch motifs are referred to as 'Fern Stitches' and the below swatch sample showcases one  of the many variations of the Fern Stitch. 

Knitted with a cotton / acrylic yarn (Stylecraft Kontiki), the texture and look of the sample reminded me somewhat of Entrelac knitting. The stitch motif requires a  multiple of 8 plus 4 stitches.



Fern Stitch Swatch, Yarn: Stylecraft Kontiki

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The First Sock is the Hardest: Turning Those Heels...

Gently inserted into everyday conversation, the mere mention of sock knitting tends to provoke remarks about its apparent difficulty and a comment on the intricacy of heel turning will undoubtedly be thrown in here and there as well. Even non-knitters or those only loosely connected to the fibre sphere will appear to sound like experts on the topic of sock knitting and inevitably convey a sense of a awe when they utter that ominous phrase: 'turning a heel'. 


And all of a sudden it seems that everyone has heard about how immensely difficult it is to turn a heel. "Turning the heel', i.e. the part of the knitting when you shape the heel of the sock and work your piece on several needles whilst decreasing, seems to simultaneously instil feelings of awe, fear and amazement whenever it is mentioned, especially if non-knitters join the conversation. It sounds somewhat magical, surgical and therefore terribly advanced. 


Sock Knitting Heel Detail

Monday, 25 May 2015

Kent Local Elections 2015: The Curious Case of the Missing Ballot Paper

Now that the dust on the UK General Elections 2015 is settling and we are slowly getting used to the idea of another five years of unfettered Tory rule, it's time to start turning our attention to the handling of election logistics in the county of Kent.


More here.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

A Tribute to Elizabeth Zimmermann's Pi

In an earlier post on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac, I outlined why I believe that Zimmermann's no-frills paperback should be considered a very special publication indeed, despite its somewhat bland appearance and apparent lack of project photography. 

First up, a few words on the low-cost nature of the paperback edition: The Almanac features instructions to over 15 patterns (including 4 sweaters) on approximately 150 pages, making this a densely packed publication. With the exception of the book cover, the project photography is in black and white throughout, thus lacking the visual appeal and photographic detail of contemporary knitwear publications. 

In short, the project photography (though decent and undertaken with great care) is by modern standards outdated. As a result, those of us, who derive inspiration from ogling an appealing finished object before casting on, will undoubtedly be disappointed.  To really get in the mood for knitting a Zimmermann pattern from the Almanac, it might be best to start off by trawling the web for pictures of finished Zimmermann projects and adaptations of her original designs. At this point, her true genius will be revealed. The Pi Shawl pattern provides a perfect case in point.  

Zimmermann's Pi Shawl design and instructions have inspired countless knitters to produce a multitude of design variations based upon Zimmermann's original design. The Pi Shawls featured below are merely a small selection of the many outstanding projects on show across the  web. 

Special thanks go to MadKnits, Terhi, Aisling Doonan and Glenna C aka crazyknittinglady  for allowing me to showcase their most amazing, finished Pis here on the blog. Thank you so much! 

For even more Pi inspiration, please visit my Pi Shawl board on Pinterest.


Terhi's Pi, Yarn: Wetterhoff Sivilla and Fiberphile Merino 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

From one opinionated knitter to another: Revisiting Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac

Almost three years ago, I had Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac on loan from my local library. Had I written my review of the book at the time, it would probably have sounded very different from my assessment today. Frau Zimmermann - at least as far her Almanac is concerned - is certainly not aiming her designs at beginner knitters; and I would have described myself as one at the time. Consequently, when I first laid hands on Zimmermann's Almanac, I didn't find it too appealing. The patterns appeared somewhat tired and outdated; and her occasional digressions into anecdotes, though intriguing, distracted from the instructions. When it was time to return my borrowed copy to the library, I did so without attempting to retain any of the instructions for future projects. It seemed as if the Almanac had nothing on offer for me. 


Elizabeth Zimmermann


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Cartridge Rib Stitch Baktus - Project Instructions

As promised in my last post, here are the project instructions for the Cartridge Rib Stitch Baktus. 


Garter Stitch Baktus in Araucania Botany Lace 


This project was a modification of the ever popular Baktus pattern by Strikkelise, which is available here. Just like the original, the Catridge Rib Baktus is designed to use exactly one skein of sock yarn. The needle size is up to you and gauge is not important. Happy days!


Garter Stitch Baktus in Araucania Botany Lace 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Another Brain Cleanser - Baktus in Cartridge Rib


Almost one year ago, I was busy knitting my first baktus (a triangular scarf in garter stitch throughout). The pattern for the original baktus can be found here. I highly recommend it as a brain cleanser project. For those occasions when you wish to knit, but lack the desire for a serious challenge. For those occasions, it's an ideal base project. 

Due to its simplicity, the pattern inspires to play around. If you feel like trying new techniques (knitting with multiple colours, cabling, basic lace and so on), then the baktus should be on your list of 'go-to-patterns'.


Garter Stitch Baktus

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Pint and a Jumper: Knitting meets 70s Britain

What have I started?

My ever present urge to organise things has driven me to sort through a pile of retro knitting patterns, purchased quite some time ago in a charity shop in Canterbury. I started going through the bundle last week. Instead of discarding some of the patterns, in order to thin out the pile, as I had originally envisaged, I'm beginning to feel that I'm sitting on something akin to a social history of the British Isles in knitwear. 

My pattern collection went from trash to treasure in the space of an afternoon. It's now obviously impossible to throw any of them away. Far from it, I'm actually considering how best to preserve these glimpses into a not so distant past.

One of the most amusing pieces in my collection is the pattern below.

Handknitting meets Life on Mars 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Damson Jam Recipe

Back in September, I promised to publish my recipe for damson jam. Nearly six months later, I finally managed to find the time to write it up: 




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