Friday, 18 April 2014

Some New Knitting Books

I have to admit I am not much of a reader but I do have a weak spot for non-fiction books, especially cookery books and of course knitting books!

 Over the last couple of weeks I have bought 3 new knitting books to add to the collection.  The first was the spring 2014 edition of Pom Pom Quarterly which is almost a cross between a book and a magazine that arrived through the post beautifully wrapped with a personal note on the label.

There are eight beautiful and contemporary knitting projects as well as article on various things including the craft (or is it science?) of pressing seaweed and a recipe for chocolate bergamot cookies.

 The pattern that caught my eye and persuaded me to order Pom Pom Quarterly, is the Confetti cardigan, which has been knitted in Jamieson's of Shetland Spindrift.  I have inherited a sizable quantity of Shetland jumper yarn and have 2 cones of shades of purple which will be perfect for this design.

They sum the publication up very well on their website:
"Printed in the UK on lovely heavy paper, at a project bag-friendly portable size, it’s the go-to magazine for lovers of independent craft".

If you have read my previous post you will see I have thinking about and trying out knitting Fair isle gloves. I had seen the book knitting Fair Isle Mittens and Gloves by Carol Rasmussen Noble in one of the local shops a while back and wished I had bought it as it is now out of print.

I recently borrowed a copy from the local library, which is something I have made a note to do more when I get a chance, but I wanted to have permanently on my bookshelf.  I managed to get a copy from Abe Books after a friend found one there. The author collected many examples of Fair Isle gloves and mittens over a few years, and gives patterns for Forty different designs. There are general patterns for the gloves and mittens and once you have mastered that the design possibilities are endless as demonstrated in the book.

This is another book whose pages will be turned over and over again I am sure.

Since I was ordering books I thought I might as well order another (as very often happens). I am a big fan of Elizabeth Zimmermann's writing as I know many knitters are. I didn't have the Knitters Almanac in my collection so decided it was time to buy it.  In the book there is a pattern for a different project for each month of the year, and while I don't think I will be making any of the garments exactly how they are in the book, I will certainly be using the book for reference. I purchased her book"Knitting Without Tears" about a year ago and found it is invaluable when it comes to knitting your own designs. Someone mentioned to me that they had the book but hadn't read it as it was quite wordy and didn't have many pictures.  But I find it very easy to read, EZ (as knitters refer to her) writes in a way you would imagine her to speak with a lot of humour.  Her books are well worth investigating if you haven't done so already.

My problem is now I am starting running out of book space, especially considering I bought another yesterday!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A Trip to the Beach and a Finished Fair Isle Hat

This week the sun has been shining and the relentless wind and gales that seem to have battered us all winter seem to have subsided.  We headed down to the beach, it is only a few minutes walk from our house but it is the first time we have been there this year.

It is always a place of inspiration with it's beautiful colours and patterns

Lately I have been struggling to get my orders done and out in time so I have closed my Not On the High Street shop for a couple of weeks for a breather - yesterday the last parcel I put to the Post Office came back as I had addressed it to myself - definitely time for a rest!

I have been knitting though, mainly in the evenings. I find it very relaxing and therapeutic. There have been several reports lately of how knitting is good for your health, such as this one from the  Mail Online .  Studies suggest that it can protect the brain from ageing.  Here's hoping!  It's a good excuse to knit more anyway.

My latest FO is the Fair Isle beret from Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting. The yarn is Shetland jumper weight wool from both Jamieson and Smith and Jamieson's of Shetland.

I dressed it on a dinner plate to stretch and even out the stitches on the crown.  Once it was dry and off the plate I damped the edges again and stuffed it with a couple of muslin cloths to make it less like a flying saucer and more like, well, a hat.

The colours were inspired by a green Seasalt rain jacket that I bought from Smith and Robertson's in Lerwick.  I tried a few colourways, its always amazing how patterns can look completely different just by changing the colours around.  

I have added an email subscription link to the sidebar of this blog so you can be informed by email whenever I write a new post.   When you enter your email you will be asked to type in the figures you see on the screen and you will then be sent an email link, which when you click on it will then be subscribe you.  It would be lovely if you would!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Stasis Jumper - another FO

I mentioned in the last post that I had two FOs: the second one is this Stasis Jumper I made for myself.

The pattern was designed by Leila Raabe for Brooklyn Tweed and can be found here on Ravelry.  If you are a knitter or crocheter and haven't yet been on Ravelry, I urge you to do so now - you will need to create a user name and password to sign in, but after that you can browse through squillians of patterns and designs (many of the patterns are free), although be prepared to lose hours and hours of your time!  I am often amazed at the number of knitters I speak to that don't yet know of this amazing resource.

Getting back to the jumper, I knitted it in Shetland jumper yarn, specifically Jamieson's of Shetland Spindrift with the main colour being olive and the pattern being chartreuse (one of my favourites).  The pattern was very easy to follow and it really was a pleasure to knit.  I usually would wear a 33/34" but after swatching I decided to knit the 42.5".  The size came out exactly as the measurements should be and although it is slightly baggier than I would normally wear I know I will get lots of wear out of this one (I have already). 

In other news, I was recently asked to write a blog post for Lets Knit magazine. I have been thinking a lot lately about Shetland traditional knitting, and how it is sadly in decline out as patterns and techniques generally weren't written down in the past but were passed on from knitter to knitter.  Nowadays the younger generations do not have to knit for their living so these skills generally aren't being learnt.  I was inspired by a photo of my late Granny who knitted Fair Isle gloves and berets when I was growing up to earn some money.  I always regret not taking the time to ask her how she made them.

Lately, I have been trying to recreate the gloves I remember so well - that will be another post I think!

You can read the article, My Family and Fair Isle Knitting here.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Freefield Jacket

I have another FO!  Well, 2 actually, but I haven't got photos yet of the other one so that will be another post.  I recently completed a two colour jacket for the boy, in Jamieson of Shetland's spindrift (2 ply jumper yarn) in colours Atlantic and Sky.

The jacket was made using techniques traditional to Shetland.  It was knitted in the round with 3 needles with a knitting belt with extra stitches, often known as steeks (which are cut at the end) up the front, at the arm holes and the neck.  The facing and collar were picked up and added at the end.  I much prefer this method of construction as it means there is mimimal sewing, and that is my least favourite part by far.

The pattern was based on a jacket my Granny made for my cousin over 35 years ago and is shown below.  Keeping with the Shetland tradition of passing patterns among families and friends, she designed this based on a jacket her cousin had previously made.  I called my version the Freefield Jacket as that was the area in Burra that my Granny was born and brought up and where her cousin still lives.

This one was knitted in double knitting yarn but the design was easy enough to convert into jumper weight yarn as the majority of the design is single stitches of alternating colours, which makes a lovely cosy fabric reminiscent of tweed.

Interestingly, when I was going through old photos recently I came across this picture: it is my eldest cousin wearing another version.

 It makes me wonder how many of this design were made!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Brake Cowl - A free knitting pattern

Firstly, Happy New Year!  Wonder how long after new year it is appropriate to say that?  The run up to Christmas was very busy with orders and the usual Christmas preparations and now I am slowly getting back to normal.

During the summer I knitted a simple lace cowl from Shetland jumper weight yarn, several people have asked me for the pattern so I thought I would write it here.  It is a horseshoe lace pattern repeated and knitted in the round (I used 3 wires) so it forms a tube.  During the summer months Joseph ran around the croft, and I had to follow him so decided to make something simple I could pick up and knit outside and didn't require too much brain power!  Our croft is called Brake, hence the name of the cowl.

A lot of the knitting was done sitting on this stone!

I have worn it a lot, it is cosy and easy to wear, there are no ends flapping about as would be with a scarf (particularly a problem when you live some where as windy as here!)

Brake Cowl

Wool: Jamieson's Spindrift (2ply jumper weight yarn) or Jamieson & Smith's 2 ply Jumper weight yarn; 3 x 25g balls. (I used Jamieson's Spindrift in Pistachio)

Recommended needle size: 3.25

Worked in the round.

Size: Approx 31cm x 43cm 

Tension: 2 patterns (20 stitches) = 8 cm (tension isn't hugely important as the exact size can vary but will be useful if you want to use different yarn).

Cast on 160 stitches using the cable cast on method (you can see a tutorial on how to do this on the knitty website) circular wires or 80 stitches onto two needles for working in the round with 3 needles.

Knit 1 row.

Row 1: (yo k3 s2kp k3 yo k1) repeat (16 times altogether)
Row 2: knit
Row 3: (k1 yo k2 s2kp k2 yo k2), repeat to the end of the row
Row 4: knit
Row 5: (k2 yo k1 s2kp k1 yo k3), repeat to the end of the row
Row 6: knit
Row 7: (k3 yo s2kp yo k4), repeat to the end of the row
Row 8: knit

Repeat these 8 rows 20 times until work measures approx 43 cm

Knit one row. Cast off using your preferred method. I used Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn cast off method as it gives a stretchy finish that looks similar to the cast on edge.  You can see a tutorial on how to do this on the Knitty website

To finish: Weave in any loose ends.  Wash in warm soapy water, rinse well and pin out to the required size or stretch on a jumper board. Make sure you stretch the peaks at the bottom and the peaks at the opposite part of the pattern at the top of the cowl by pinning them or using waste yarn if using a jumper board.

Abbreviations: k = knit; yo = yarn over; s2kp = slip 2 stitches, knit 1, pass the first 2 slipped stitches over.

Maybe its just my background in marine biology but I think the pattern is much more like a horseshoe crab than a horse shoe.

Happy Knitting!

You can buy jumper weight Shetland Yarn from Jamieson's of Shetland or from Jamieson and Smith

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Peerie hooses and jumpers

In the last post I promised to write another on my new laser cut felt brooches, I have been so busy with craft fairs and orders that here I am a couple of months later and I haven't written a word until today.

The Peerie Hoose (little house in Shetland dialect) Brooches are inspired by the traditional croft houses and fishermans' cottages found though out Shetland like the houses pictured below that are a couple of minutes walk from my house. I love that time of day when it starts to get dark and yellow coloured lights flood out from windows, the hoose brooches have either yellow, orange or lime green felt as a background, reminiscent of a cosy interior.

Fair isle yoke jumpers and cardigans have been very much a tradition in Shetland knitwear for many years such as these ones pictured in  "The Art of Fair Isle Knitting, history, technique, color and patterns" by Anne Feitelson. 

 They are very much back in fashion at the moment and my jumper brooch pays homage to these garments.  Like the house brooches they are laser cut from 100% wool felt and I have added some wool stitches to the felt jumper to represent the yoke.
I remember having one when I was about 8 or 9 and I hated it.  It's funny how things come around.

The yoke jumper above is available as a kit from Jamieson and Smith.

The brooches can be purchased from my online shop at Not On The High Street

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Summer Months and New Things

I think this is my favourite time of year, over the past few weeks there has been a huge change in the weather, we have had gales and rain and we have lit the rayburn which always indicates the start of a new season, the nights are getting darker sooner I am sitting knitting without feeling guilty about not being outside.  We seem to have spent a lot of time outside over the past few months, which hasn't left much time for much work (work can wait).  The following pictures are a summary:

We have had several beautiful sunsets.  This is the view from the front of our house, looking over to Westerwick

We saw lots of puffins at Sumburgh head this year

Joseph had his second birthday and seems to have take to crofting quite naturally

We spent a week in Brighton with friends and enjoyed amazing weather

Summer is the time for the country shows, where you can see many different entries including this very cute vegetable dog

One of my favourite bits of the shows is looking at the knitting entries, these were at the Voe show 

 The hay goes in in August, we still use our 60 year old tractor and traditional methods

When I can, I have been working on some new products, some of these use lasercut wool, the range includes felt brooches, hangings and keyrings.  Here are some of the pieces, these are currently on sale in the craft cabinet at the Bonhoga Gallery, Weisdale, Shetland and hopefully will be available to buy online within the next couple of weeks all going to plan.

Yoke Jumper Brooches

Croft House Brooch

Fair Isle motif keyring

More details about these next time!