Welcome to Erssie Knits

To see my new website, and find patterns to download and more go here to the Erssie Knits website
New Zealand Adventures

I promise I have been doing some serious knitting. First of all I managed to sneak my circulars on to the plane but felt so naughty that every time a steward went by was flustered into making silly mistakes! After two attempts I made a standard K3 P2 ribbed hat for the little nephew which I won't show here. Here is me in our private spa bath in Kaikoura (NZ on the South Island), renamed The Spa of Doooooom! We seemed to pick up some unmentionable bugs in this lovely luxury hotel spa which has meant a lot of sleepless nights in separate beds. how romantic!

We spent our first week here in Wellie with my brother and his wife and kiddies. However, we headed off to the South Island mainly to experience the above creatures which Stevie snapped this morning on our amazing Dolphin Encounter trip in Kaikoura. With full wetsuit and hood and mask and snorkel we got into the sea on a beautifully calm day (freezing water though) and swam with a pod of about 500 dolphins. I cannot explain how wonderful this made me feel. They were not tamed in any way, totally wild and yet seemed to enjoy teasing and inviting us to play. You circle, they circle, you chase then turn and they chase you, occasionally bumping and brushing against you so gently at such a speed. Then they entertain you with the acrobatics you can see above. On a previous trip we saw the above Sperm whale and this morning as well as dolphins we came across seals lazing around on the rocks. There are strict rules here about observing marine mammals and not interfering etc so we were so lucky to be allowed into their world. I want to do it all over again! However, was a bit embarrassed about being rolled onto the boat afterwards like a big fat seal as I can't use my arms to grip to climb onto the boat.

Sorry for those of you wanting to read a knitting blog and finding cutesy animal travelling stories! Back to knitting, I have found it difficult to get normal decent stuff over here despite it being a sheepy place. I did manage to buy some cheap Merino, slightly felted and soft and cream but great for dyeing.

One other little bit of news, the Anticraft have a book coming out whoopee. I've had a few projects accepted for the book, double whoopee. however, can't really get the yarn I need to work on that here so no option but to wait until I return to London after my Big Adventure on The Land of The Long White Cloud.
New Zealand....See You Soon

Well it's not long now until I'm off to New Zealand, mainly to meet the pair on the right. Otis (nephew) and Aimee (niece and God daughter). However, I shall also be enjoying some really good scenery,travel and of course my beloved knitting. I have been trying to find New Zealand websites and blogs that will tell me what is going on down under.
It certainly doesn't seem as much of a public or networked community as we have here. However, I could be wrong. What if crafters there are luddites who are enjoying the simplicity of sticks and yarn without resorting to technology to advance themselves? What if I have got it totally wrong and find myself so absorbed with my blog, shop website that I eventually suck dry any creative enjoyment? Maybe we should abandon our keyboards, go outdoors and knit,knit,knit with nature all around?

Magic Loop v Just Knitting With 2 Circulars

However, if it weren't for my community at Angel Knits in London, how else would I have found out last night that what I thought was a 'magic loop' was in fact knitting with 2 circulars. Enjoyed last night immensely, even though our club was secondary to the Vintage Clothing sale and DJ/Breakfast at Tiffany's Club going on at The New Rose

"You're just knitting with 2 circulars!" they cried out in triumphant unison (they = Nikki and Ann). Here is what they explained to me regarding the two methods I had mixed up (thinking one was knitting with one circular and the other was the magic loop).

Magic Loop This is when you find a circular needle just doesn't shrink down with the circumference of your knitting in the round, your work is beginning to look a bit stretched. You pull a loop out to one side, keep that loop there and knit up to that point, then you need to pull the loop out from another place to make the next stitches slide right up against the ones just knitted so you can carry on. Your circular is too long and basically you are just taking up the slack at different places to compensate. Easy eh? Well, I tried this method when I had rubbishy circulars from years ago and if the 'wire' is brittle nylon, those stitches just want to pull apart and stretch in the wrong places and the loop isn't flexible enough.

Knitting with two circulars: I love dpns, even over straight needles and I own a huge collection with double sets in bamboo and birch. Aha, these are no good for discreet plane knitting though so I attempted to put into practice the idea of using two circulars which I thought (wrongly) involved one looping across the other with contact points but somehow used one to knit off the other. Ann sorted me out. Dvided stitches so half are on one ciruclar and half on the other. Knit half stitches on one circular with the opposite point of that circular until running out of stitches on that circular. Next knit ther half of the stitches on the other circular by bringing the opposite point of the same circular and knitting around. Then swap back to the first, repeat all of this knitting each sset of half the stitches but always usin the point of the same ciruclar so the stitches stay on the same circular throughout. Easy! Must do some photos you can download of this technique, when I get back from NZ of course.

I am not one to learn techniques for the sake of it. who would have guessed that I would need to abandon the dpns. so thank goodness for knitting communities you can see in the flesh!

Must also mention here that Ann has started spinning, Nikki has started dyeing and I am honestly impressed with their work. Ann has found she likes to spin quite fine gauge yarns which is wonderful to hear because the world has enough thick and thin candy coloured yarn around. Nikki's colours from some acid dyes are not at all 'candy' like. However they are parrot like, I've just bought some yarn which retains a wonderful sheen whilst being dip dyed to a variety of tropical hues which I loved when I saw. Look out for an adult earflap hat or beret, which I will try to make in New Zealand if I can. I will mkae the pattern available to Nikki for her Fluffenstuff clients.

You can see more of what is available at Fluffenstuff

New Zealand

OK, first I hear that there is no way I can knit on circulars,dpns or even crochet with a wooden hook on Air New Zealand. Now I hear that bringing in any 'unprocessed wool or animal hair' including yarns is as bad as smuggling heroin! How far can I stretch the fact that my Cashmere Silk Merino has been processed, i.e. treated and spun in a factory. Surely it doesn't count as animal fur/fleeces etc straight from the animal and therefore carrying disease? Why if I knitted that yarn into a hat would it be any different from yarn? Are they going to stop me from bringing in my already knitted woollens? Gosh, I have been posting hand knitted items to my nephew and niece for years,at any time I could have been arrested as a smuggler then!

The BIG Sheep Sheep Race
Evil sheep with their jockeys making a charge for customs men in Auckland last year. All were caught, fined and extradited to Devon, UK where they continue to race to raise money for other sheep not so lucky and detained in Auckland Penitentiary

New Links to Christmas Patterns
I'm not fond of Christmas being forced on me too early. However, as I am off to another part of the World very soon, I wouldn't want to leave any well organised knitters without a chance to knit some festive things in time for the correct season

Last year as well as designing a Baby Santa Hat and a Baby
Christmas Pudding Hat, I designed some Christmas decorations for the Children's Society. The Children's Society website has had a complete makeover but they are still running their Knit It campaign and have included free patterns to be used for charity including all of the Erssie Knits current Christmas patterns and two versions of Erssie's Easy beanie.

The Christmas decorations have just been put up and include Christmas Gold and Silver baubles, Christmas Mini Stockings and Christmas Red and Gold tinsel. The patterns range from very easy beginner to intermediate levels. See under FREE ERSSIE KNITS PATTERNS list on the right for a direct link to each one.

New Yarns in my LYS

My LYS which is totally tied to Sirdar has some new yarns which should not be snubbed. There is a new yarn distributed by Sirdar, manufactured in Italy called Sublime. I knew about this as I have been working on a secret project, will tell all when it is 'out' in a new knitting magazine coming soon. These yarns are

Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK
Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK
Cashmere Merino Silk Aran
Cashmere Merino Silk Aran
Cashmere Merino Silk DK
Cashmere Merino Silk DK

Extra Fine Merino Wool DK
Extra Fine Merino Wool DK

They also do a kid mohair which is about twice as thick as Rowan Kidsilk Haze.
My LYS also had the new Wendy Fusion yarn in variegated bright colourways.

154 - Saffron

154 - Saffron

151 - All Spice

151 - All Spice

152 - Fenugreek

152 - Fenugreek

I do like the new Sublime Yarns, and I will give it more of a review later when I am allowed to talk about my current project. My only criticism is the palette of colours, which I find a bit too muted, the red being the only brightest amongst them. I suppose there is a difference between the colours I like to knit with and the colours of knitwear I actually wear!

Got any yarns you think I should know about? Perhaps you are spinning and dyeing yourself. If you can spare a little send it to me, I will stick up a fair review of it. if it isn't your own yarn, do let me know about things you have 'skeinspotted' yourself.

Knitting Tips and Tricks available as pdfs

By the way, you might have noticed I am updating this blog all the time. In the absence of my website (still under development) I am making as much available to people through this blog as I will eventually through the erssieknits.com website. There are pdf tutorials and notes, see under How to.... in the sidebar Some of them are notes put together to advise either students or makers that I work with and some are personal notes from my Dsign Journal. At some point I must find time to actually knit and design though instead of just talking about it. IT stuff is so addictive!

Competition winner..................!

What is this?

Many of you got it right, it was fairly straightforward, no trickery. One of you came up with the answer in lightening speed. It was Mary Lou from MLQ knits. It was well worth running a competition, I have made some new pen pals through this and seen some blogs I might not have found. I didn't run it for any sinister marketing purposes, it was purely for fun and to try to cut down on my luxury stash as well.

Yes, it was indeed a row counter. The lever on the left is just perfect for putting a finger or toe on. The action is smooth and satisfying and it automatically moves the digits on to the next number. The screw on the right ratates all of the numbers to zero when necessary. So much better than a lot of the plastic ones available. Apparently this apparatus was not designed for crafts, it was for busy doormen at clubs to count the number of people entering the premises and keeping the numbers within the regulations of fire safety. Bill Norris (RIP) made this one up and put it on a platform for his wife Rita to use when she knitted complicated lace patterns and needed to keep it just for when she was pulling out rows for corrections.

PS: whilst taking a picture of this for you, I accidentally left it outside overnight and it rained! Fortunately we managed to dry it out and avoid any rust and it is still as smooth as ever. I expect if it gets dry a little oiling or WD40 will do the trick.
Hookorama is out
I've got a few projects in this book. The flowers are my patterns I also crocheted some other small items and carried out some pattern writing.

Up until now I've not been able to put them up as FOs. It seems like a lifetime ago but here are the items I designed (below). A Lily of the Valley, carnations, daisies, poppies. I also made some blackberries and leaves.

My Links

Just updated my blog and rather unprofessionally have lost my links. If you would like to do a link exchange or you can see I have suddenly cut you off, then do contact me!
Knit A River

I like any sort of knitting that is for a good cause. I remember last year when it was freezing on the streets and some homeless people I knew were begging for knitted wool blankets. I was hard pushed to get any volunteers to knit up squares.

This year it is Gerald of I-Knit who has put a lot of effort into knitting a river to promote Water Aid. He is doing really well but that shouldn't stop you from donating a blue square for his river. You have probably seen him in just about every knitting magazine going this season promoting the cause. So go to I-knit and help Knit a River.

Is that enough links to make up for the sad fact I just haven't found time yet to do a square myself?

Knitting Magazines

Knit Today, Vogue Knitting, Knitting

There are so many knitting mags in print. I mentioned the new magazine Yarn Forward last month. I don't often go shopping but when I do, I usually grab anything that is going that is knitting or crochet related in WH Smith. Here is what I thought of the current issues out. I've also said enough about Simply Knitting for one month and being in this month's issue, I'm going to refrain from passing comment!

Knit T

This is out monthly. It is a fairly new magazine. I like the style of the magazine, large detailed photographs, with knitting charts and stitch library. The text is also spaced out to avoid the eye skipping lines and there is room on the patterns to write notes about the project. There are 13 projects of a good variety in this month's issue and some interesting articles about hand felting and making your own needles. At last we have some grown up tips for knitters with sensible answers to some well thought out questions.

What I love
- This month there is a pair of socks by Laura Long. Knitted on 5mm needles, I love that idea! The colour work is strong but effective and the shaping is streamlined and cups the heel perfectly.
What I'm not going to knit The Playtime top in Rowan Summer Tweed. I hate this yarn, sorry to be so personal, I just find this yarn very ugly in both colour and texture and no pattern is going to distract me from that. Some yarns sound good in theory and just don't work an
d this is one of them. There were so many other beautiful tweeds on the yarns review page that would have been much better!
What's New? Some new yarn from
Yorkshire called Brigantia. Yes! 100% Wool and British, I love the idea and will be looking into that.

Vogue Knitting

Oh how I love you Vogue. Even though you shake the foundations of my confidence with your novel projects that make me wish I had thought of them first! My one criticism is that there are too many adverts. They should be at the back where they belong and not interspersed with articles causing confusion.

What I love - The wrap over top, Project 21. It is an asymmetric design with one sleeve and one wrap over part knitted in
a Fairisle design that suggests a ribbed texture, I love it!

What I won't be knitting Just about everything. Why? Vogue always inspires me to try to come up with my own ideas. This involves a lot of scribbling and sketching but of course I never have the time to make the things I want to in time for them to be fashionable!

What's New? Knitting software for your Mac, a sock wizard. A vogue knitting tour in
Australia and New Zealand was mentioned but, hang on, that was for September. I really must subscribe and try to get this mag earlier!


This is a monthly mag that has been around for a while now. There is a generous amount of projects, 13 in all in 5 categories catering for all level including children.

What I love
- The beautiful movie star dressing gown. On 5mm needles and using Rowan Kid Classic it airy and lacy and drapes so beautifully. It is crying out for a spiral staircase and an assistant to adjust the train. However, living in a two up
two down 'cottage' it might involve suicide stairs!

What I'm not going to knit -
The mouse family. Looking at them I can see that there was an intention for it to look like all the other misshapen toy items suggestive of a creature but not resembling anything. they're arty but these just look wrong, and they remind me of Roland Rat (remember him?)

What's New?
A book review of a new publication which partners the designer of the mouse family and Tracy Ullman (the comedienne)


What is it?

My late father in law made this for crafting

First correct answer sent to erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk
wins 5 balls of Debbie Bliss Cotton Silk Aran
Closing date 23 Nov 2006,
prize posted to address supplied 23 Nov 2006

Pirate Gal Adult Version
I knitted this originally as a baby hat in Debbie Bliss Cotton Silk Aran (now discontinued) and designed it so that the skull on the back is in reverse colours. It was a pig to make, I cursed myself for knitting it in the round and said never again! However, I was requested to knit another one in Merino Aran (see my website) for a little boy and said that is definitely it , no more! The original is on sale on etsy, and although I have had no luck selling it, I have had quite a few people requesting an adult version. So this is it, the Pirate Gal Adult Hat. This is the last of this yarn. I have drawn up a chart of the design and written instructions on making an average women's size and knitted flat.

A download of the easier flat version of the pattern is coming soon for $3
Pattern will include colour photo and colour chart. If you just want the chart and can work out your own decreases at the crown and adjust size to fit, ask me for a FREE xl chart.

Here is the back of the hat showing the skull in reverse colours. This time I knitted the hat flat rather than in the round as I didn't want any yarn showing on the stripy side panels. Was it any easier? Yes, it was challenging for me when it came to seaming and this cotton silk Aran is not easy to work with as it splits and is very stiff but the results have been worth the effort. It is going off to Canada, and yes I do feel guilty about Erssie Knits travelling the globe and the aircraft fuel etc. However, I don't have babies making a nappy mountain and I don't own or drive a car, rarely travel from my home and only visit my family in NZ every 5yrs or more so my carbon footprint is still probably smaller than average. I also try to buy British yarns wherever possible although of course this cotton silk aran was probably imported for DB.
The Earflappy Hat in Action

What a joy to know that long distance knitting pays off. This little man from New Mexico is modelling the earflap sockwool hat designed and knitted by me . it comes with a pair of mittens, as shown previously, and it grows and stretches like a sock so should keep him warm all winter

There is a pair of thumbless mittens that comes with the hat. I worked hard to make sure the self striping yarn is identical on each earflap, ties and tassells as well as the mittens.

Pattern to be publihsed next year.
Simply Knitting

I'm in Simply Knitting this issue/month, an interview (Spinning Yarns section) and two patterns. I won't paste up any copies of it, far too embarassed and coy. If you go to the Simply Knitting Daily Blog they have pasted up the full version of my interview. Obviously they had to shorten it to fit the printed version, you know how I go on!

I've got one comment re my Xmas Pud Hat featured in the mag, got a feeling it was a little too small for the poor babe's head, either he has a bigger than average head or the babies are a bit older than they should be, he doesn't look happy and the brim has been unrolled to fit it on and the knitting looks a little under strain. Lesson learned over past year = When making babies hats for photography must make the larger sizes due to the difficulty of finding younger babies. Also, most babies that model sit up and so are likely to be at the upper end of the baby years. I tended to design newborn hats and then size them up as necessary as it saves on yarn and time. I think if I know things might end up in magazines, I must make sure I've got the bigger sizes ready for models and photography.

The babe in the Santa hat looks more than happy though. I am expecting some letters to come in about the looped fur stitch about the instructions for last part of the stitch; both new loops on needle must be stitched together or the loops cannot be cut without risk of fur running. i am sure some people will get a bit confused by this and be so happy they've made a loop they won't worry about the last part.

My latest Project
Just a quickie to post a pic of my latest project. Here it is, it took a lot longer than expected to finish. It is for a 2yr old, see 'How to put motifs onto charts' in previous posts for more details.
I am still learning photoshop and xl so I can put my own artwork onto charts. It took me all morning to put a tiny sun motif onto the chart and adjust it so it works!

Good News and Bad News.............................................

I did promise myself I wouldn't bring 'medical' stuff to Erssie's World of Knitting but I have that creepy feeling my knitting days are numbered. Some of you may know about the massive hole in
my arm, won't go into details as it is far too unpleasant.

Good news is that the skin is healing, the sides are pulling together. Bad news is that my hand has gone weak and numb and I am unable to grip a needle in that hand. This is the problem I normally have in the other arm! I'm guessing that some scar tissue is restricting tendons or pressing on the median nerve. I can balance a needle on the hand but it isn;t helping me with colour work where I need to swap coloured yarns frequently. This time its the bigger needles causing a problem so I might even get back into small dpns, sock projects and lace. I cannot entertain the idea of not bein
g able to knit at all, what would I do then????However, I am not taking on any jobs for the New Year.

As far as designing goes, I do need to take time out to just experiment with shapes ad I am getting exhausted with accessories one after the other and still haven't got round to tackling grown up garments this year. Although I have designed the odd pattern here and there, I wouldn't really regard myself as a 'real designer', the idea of designing is new to me because I come from a family that always knitted what they wanted and thought that working without patterns or adapting patterns was standard.

I am still having a think about Anticraft projects I might submit for their first book mmmmm.................................................................................

Men...I'm looking for men.....
Oh yes, I'd like to hear from Men, do you knit? What do you knit? If you don't knit, what do you like to wear? if you are not
a man, what about the men in your life? More than anything else I am asked for advice on patterns for teenage boys or young men. There is a shortage of patterns that are subtle enough to avoid seeking attention (Look at me I am hand knitted!), you know what it is like, you knit for your man and I bet it has to be a large piece, perhaps a ribbed tweedy number and you daren't knit him a hat as he just won't wear it if he thinks he looks like a girl!

I am going to put together a collection of patterns (my own) of very simple beanies in plains stripes and surfing themes. here is a man I know that doesn't mind being a bit more adventurous with knitwear. What a shame he is 6'4"! It is like knitting two duvet covers to make him a full sweater!

Looking for Women too
Also I am keen on the idea of designing for larger women, I am quite large on a small frame (I used to be too thin before steroids but thats another story!). I don't really go in for knitwear myself as far as full garments go, partly because it takes so long to do with my disadvantages but also because I rarely put a sweater on and feel good about my shape.

This is wrong, there are some ladies out there who are really curvy and sexy and they are looking good in knitwear that drapes, skims accentuates the good etc. However, all the articles in magazines just describe the type of knitwear we larger people should wear but they rarely show an example.

So, if any of you are on the larger side I'd like to know what do you knit for yourself, do you restrict your colour and style for yourself, are you self conscious in big gauge knits. got any pics of you looking lovely and curvacious? I promise it is for research.

The Anticraft Magazine - Samhain Surprise

At last my pattern is in the Samhain issue of The Anticraft, better late than never! The Anticraft 'surprised' me by publishing their issue early as I was working on this but they decided to have my pattern put in later as a halloween surprise.

The beautiful face of Silvanus was adapted from a chart from my favourite book Enchanted Knitting
by the Catherine Cartright-Jones and Roy Jones team. How I would like to be in touch with that pair, does anyone know where they are?

For anyone who deosn't know the Anticraft, it is one of my favourite online magazines. It is the only one for which I can say I am proud to donate free patterns. Their house style tends towards the darker side of knitting but does include a degree of altenrative belief systems like Paganism. Even at their darkest moments there are tongues hiding in the sisters' cheeks. I also like the idea that this magazine is not just a knitting magazine, it incorporates anything which has been crafted and is original work. They publish issues 5 times per year in keeping with Wiccan Sabbats/Celtic Festivals. next issues are:

Imbolc 2007 issue (publishes Feb 1)
Beltane 2007 issue (publishes May 1)
Lughnasadh 2007 issue (publishes Aug 1)
Samhain 2007 issue (publishes Nov 1)
Imbolc 2008 issue (publishes Feb 1)

They also have a book brewing. I wish they had time to do a Yuletide version though, we need an antidote to nativity scenes and a reminder that Christmas did not originate with the Christians. Not that I am anti Christian but that Christians are anti Pagan.

You can find the free pattern for my ba
g here http://www.theanticraft.com/archive/samhain06/silvanus.htm

Although it looks like there are no new knitting posts here, I am actually adding my current project details to the How to design....section and will be updating it regularly so that my design method will all be in one place. Have a look if you like working with Fairisle, I have been placing designs on an Excel sheet. I will add some photos of the actual knit both before and after blocking.

Books I have read

Moving away from knitting slightly, I have just finished reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks. I really enjoyed the early chapters and as it was set in the late 19th Century with descriptions of lunatic asylums, it had a very Gothic Novel feel to it. Some of the case studies were fascinating but I did feel towards the end of the novel that the pace moved faster and faster towards....nothing actually. There wasn't a satisfying conclusion except for the fact that the Human Mind cannot yet be mapped and psychiatrists have only scratched the surface of what it is that makes us Human. I do like Sebastian Faulks' writing and have read most of his other novels, obviously Birdsong being the most acclaimed. I am quite unnerved as well by how good he is at describing the internalisation of women's thoughts and feelings. I wonder if his wife feels that he understands her?

I have now started Misfortune by Wesley Stace. Also 19th Century style modern novel but it is very humourous. It is Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Mervyn Peake and Mark Gattis (The Vesuvius Club and the League of Gentleman). My only gripe about this novel is that it is printed in a classic style and the print is very very small so difficult for someone like me with all my eye problems! I have started it quite a few times and had to put it down as the tablets I take jsut before bed blur my vision too.

I won't go on about that too much though, what with that and the 'arm/hand' problems, people who have commissioned knits from me might wonder how I am ever capable!

I hope you don't mind if I put up my favourite books and films as well as the knitting. I know that people who knit seem to like to read and watch films too so let me know of your favourites as well.


Just in case you visit this page and you are interested in buying some yarns, I have these yarns from Hipknits still in my possession so contact me, erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk if you are interested in buying any of them. There is a mixture of Aran weight silk, Lace weight silk and sock weight cashmere, as well as recycled Sari. I can let you know what they are going for when you contact me. Who knows, you might be able to make an offer and Hipknits might accept it. All prices are from earlier this year anyway and a lot of these yarns are not being repeated now.
How to work with charts/fit motifs
into your design

I’m not really going to tell anyone how to design, if you’re creative you find your own process and everyone is different. If you are curious though, I am going to take the mystery out of how to put motifs and borders onto your designs whether they be your own motifs or ones chosen from books for your personal use only. Watch this space as I fill it up step by step with my Celtic Hat Project.

I've been asked by a friend to knit a hat I had knitted for my partner about 6yrs ago for her 2yr old son in a combination of orange, greens and brown.

She wanted the same style which is a simple square like this:

The yarns

I knew which colours I was looking for and I knew that to get the amount of detail required for motifs, the knit was going to be of a fine gauge. After searching the Internet, I opted for a good anti tickle Merino because of the reasonable cost

The swatch

I knitted a swatch for gauge rather than testing a motif. I wanted knitted a dk yarn on 3mm needles and chose a strongly contrasting but small Celtic plait

My notes in the Design Journal
I might not carry the information in my head if I have several projects on the go, it makes sense to write everything down however trivial it seems.

I jotted down some basic notes about measurements and my maths as follows.

Size I used a table of standard measurements

and deduced that a 2yr old’s head is going to be about 18 inches. When knitting for children the biggest errors are made by knitting too small so I know I will have to be careful not to make the Fairisle so tight that it restricts the size.

Gauge I measured my swatch and found that I had 28 sts and 30 rows per 4ins2, this means I have 28÷4 = 7sts per inch

To make sure that I have the right number of stitches for a 2 yr old,

7x18=126 sts

I chose a small Celtic plait for the swatch which has an 8 stitch repeat which conveniently fits into 126, 15 times with a few stitches left over. As I would still be ok with a bit of wear allowance in the hat, I am happy to add a few stitches to make the Celtic plait fit, at a later stage I might plot the hat out on an excel chart and fit the individual Ravens motifs evenly spaced out around the hat

Therefore I will adjust the hat as follows

Head circumference = 128 sts

(18 ¼ins)

I also worked out that there are 30÷4 = 7.5 rows per inch

So I know that my Celtic plait will be 9 rows high which would be

9÷7.5 = 1.2 i.e. 1 ¼ ins. I plan to have a stocking stitch roll brim which takes up about 12 rows so my hat design has been set up to

21 rows = 21÷7.5 = 2.8 i.e. nearly 3ins. I want the hat to be just under 9ins for a square design. So I have about 6 ins left to

fill and I know the Ravens take up 20 rows in height which is 20÷7.5 = 2.6 so nearly 3 inches. This leaves about 3 inches at the top where I might fit a very small repeating border or line of stitches as the top of the hat is designed to be tied up anyway.

Fairisle Charts

In the past I have sketched out a plan on graph p

aper and then put boxes in where the motif pattern is to be applied by referring to a chart. However, I am very interested in being able to repeat hats like this so for the first time, I am going to teach myself to put it onto an Excel chart. I have done a chart before but haven’t worked out how to put repeats and mirror images of colour motifs. Watch this space to find out how I do……………………………………………………..

My notes in the Design Journal

I might not carry the information in my head if I have several for projects on the go, it makes sense to write everything down h

owever trivial it seems.

I jotted down some basic notes about measurements and my maths as follows.

Size I used a table of standard measurements and deduced that a 2yr old head is going to be about 18 inches. When knitting for children the biggest errors are made by knitting too small so I know I will have to be careful not to make the Fairisle so tight that it restricts the size.

Gauge I measured my swatch and found that I had 2

8 sts and 30 rows per 4ins2, this means I have 24÷4 = 6sts per inch

To make sure that I have the right number of stitches for a 2 yr old,

6x18=108 sts

I chose a small Celtic plait for the swatch which has an 8 stitch repeat which conveniently fits into 104, 13 times so there are a few stitches left over for the edge,

I will rpt the last 2 stitches of pattern at end and the first 2 sts from chart at beginning, then I can take the edges in and match the seam for a continuous pattern. I am a loose knitter, I know that if the hat measures just a little under 18 ins even with Fairisle it will stretch to way over that without any distortion of the pattern.

Later I will plot the hat out on an excel chart and fit the individual Ravens motifs evenly spaced out around the hat

Therefore the hat is: Head circumference = 108 (18ns)

I also worked out that there are 28÷4 = 7 rows per inch

Celtic plait will be 9 rows high with 3 rows space = 12 rows

Stocking stitch roll brim which takes up about 12 rows
I know the Ravens take up 22 with 3 rows either side = 28 rows

Total height of hat so far = 52 rows÷7 = 7.42 i.e. 7 ¾ ins before brim is rolled

I want the hat to be about 9ins after brim has rolled for an approx square design which means only about 6 or so rows left at the top, no room for the flowery border so I will insert a small diagonal striped border instead.

Fairisle Charts

In the past I have sketched out a plan on graph paper and then put boxes in where the motif pattern is to be applied by referring to a chart. However, I am very interested in being able to repeat hats like this, especially when they are my own motifs although the motifs here are taken from Enchanted Knitting. So for the first time, I am going to teach myself to put it onto an XL chart so that I can work from it. I have done a chart like this before but haven’t worked out how to put repeats and mirror images of colour motifs. Watch this space to find out how I do……………………………………………………..

The Final Chart...............

Well, I've spent a long time using XL and teaching myself how to make knitting charts in this format. I did briefly try other pieces of demo software for stitch design but really I found the freedom of a blank worksheet in XL much more satisfying. The Anticraft crew assured me this was they did it too and they are much better at it than me. I'm just sorry I can't load this particular chart for you, but this is how I did it.

How did I do it? I roughly worked out that I would need 104 columns (stitches) and roughly about 60 rows to work to my square hat pattern. You can put your 2sts of edge sts either side if you want to chart the whole 108 but I didn't do this.

I formatted the cells by selecting all of them and choosing to have a border around them and repeated this and chose a border on the inside, this marks out each stitch. Then I made the proportion for the stitch roughly, slightly wider than it is high. It is possible to work out the exact stitch proportion of your work and put this in but I just wanted to use it to make viewing and following the chart easier.

Then I took the first 12 row, 9row Celtic Plait, 3 row space section, the orange one and selected that whole area and u
sed the drawing toolbar/ fill in option to fill in the whole section as orange.

Next, using my Celtic plait border that had an eight stitch repeat and the 8 stitches and 9 rows on the right hand side of the chart 4th row from the top I filled each cell just as it was in the pattern in brown, just as I had filled in the orange. I didn't need to laboriously repeat this like I would with pencil and graph paper. I just selected the 8x9 section of the Celtic chain and pasted it in again and again right next to the previous section so that it went across the whole of the hat. To make things even easier, I just filled in 8 st rpt, then copied these 8 to make 16, then copied first 16 and pasted into next 16, then copied whole 32 and copied into next 32 until my chart was filled.

I repeated this method until I had completed the whole layout for the hat. If you have a motif like the Ravens, they need to be evenly spaced so I worked out where to place them with an even number of stitches between each one. In XL you can insert columns between motifs in just that section, or you can move them by selecting the cells of the motif, copying or cutting them and pasting them elsewhere and then doing a little tidying up by making sure the area you 'cut' or 'copied' them from has the co
rrect filled colours. If you didn’t like where you had put your motifs, but then wanted to clear the area to try again do this:

First, select a new area (big enough to put the part of design on that you want changing) outside your chart and format the cells with the same row and column width as your chart.
Next, select the cells on the chart yo
u wish to clear
Next, copy those cells and paste them onto your new area of chart
Next, provided you are happy you have a good copy of the motif or repeat needed, select motif on chart again and cut.
Next, where you have cut out motif, insert cells as necessary and colour the whole area/background by filling the cells with appropriate colour.
Next, you are ready to start again by copying the motif from the bottom and then pasting it on to the chart against the background where you want it to appear.

If you want to be really organised, yo
u can make up a chart of background colours and then make a separate area with individual motifs and copy them over to the chart to try, if you like it keep it, if not delete it.

Select motifs cells, choose copy, then select an are

I usually make sure that my stitch proportion is slightly wider than it is tall adjusting in format rows and format columns and play around with width and height to make sure I can view the chart
easily and fit it on a page landscape when printing.

The only thing I didn't master was the ability to produce a mirror image of my motifs. For this particular project I have taken motifs from a source book but now I have mastered being able to fill in the charts quite quickly, I will draw some of my own large charts. I am already putting on my various skulls and other small motifs that are completely my own for design submissions coming up.

The Actual Knit.............................................

I have started knitting the hat following the chart although as long as I have the borders somewhere, I can actually knit up designs like this without a final chart and visualise the placement of motifs in my head.


I've knitted up the hat, just got to join it. It is blocking at this very moment, I hope my 2yr old recipient is happy with it. I will post a pic of it when finished.

The final piece:

My appraisal, I quite like the fact I used more than two colours. I was disappointed I couldn;t squeeze in some plant life as well but this is for a 2yr old so space is limited The faithful Enchanted Knitting Charts helped me out once again. however, I am itching to go back to my own charts/designs but which one do I do first?

New Magazine Arrives!

I have been asked to contribute to a new magazine called Yarn Forward edited by Kerrie Allman from Hipknits/Magknits but as a totally independent project. I ordered the first issue so that I could make myself familiar with the medium.

On the whole I was impressed, good clear photos of projects and a lot of things I would wear myself. The magazine also contained regulars and features, including some written about designing knitwear. I liked the fact that each pattern gave a luxury, regular and cheap option for yarns used.
The cover sweater is beautiful, I hope they keep that standard every issue.

I was a little disappointed with a couple of the features though, one of which I'd hoped would explain how to knit for your own body shape but in actual fact didn't include any technical information on how to achieve this, it just included broad statements about what suits particular body shapes. I thought it was going to show some actual examples and adaptations of patterns.

Another of the articles is about the methods of designing knitwear and once again, no technical information on the different ways of doing this and general descriptions referring to graph paper without showing how this was done . As I have been designing an awful lot of accessories lately and writing my own patterns with schematics , I am intrigued when it comes to other designers approaches. However, I get the feeling that some designers come across a design by accident rather than method, or perhaps they just don't want to give their secrets away!

If I was to sum up the feel of the magazine in two words I would say 'safe' and 'classy'. I think that this magazine is likely to improve with age, especially as the producers are independent of any yarn companies and have invited readers to contribute.
The mag has a similar feel to Interweave Knits although I did find it a brief read in comparison. However, I may not be an average reader. I knit for hours every day and design a couple of things at least every week. I am yearning to have a magazine that will go into techniques in depth and at least tell me something I don't know. The same goes for books.

I have to comment that Jeni from Fyberspates who was featured in an article about careers in this magazine was looking pretty cool with her current hair colour. I felt exhausted when reading Jeni's average day, why is it that even with a knitting 'boom' people are still having to hold down a full time job as well as running a business in their own time? Some of us are providing extremely professional services and yet just earning pocket money compared with other commercial ventures in other fields.

You can order a magazine from the Yarn Forward website. Either a single copy or subscribe for a year (it is a quarterly)

Coldharbour Mills Yarns

Coldharbour Mills is a working wool museum and I visited it on my way back from Devon. Sadly, I arrived at an awkward time to do the tour but bought some good wool yarns in the Mill Shop where I learned that the mill is shortly to close their doors to the public. I was disappointed and was pleased to hear though that they will continue to spin yarns in a good basic range of shades. It isn’t the softest Merino in the world but it is a good basic hardwearing yarn available in a variety of weights. The shiniest of these is the Aran weight Tartan Green, a colour that is reminiscent of pine trees i.e. a deep shade of green with a hint of blue to it. Luckily for me the mills conduct a mail order business and with a single request, they gave me yarns Free of Charge to work with on a design I am doing for this Samhain issue of the Anticraft

I panicked slightly today when I found that this issue is already up on line but the Anticraft have assured me it is an early publish and that they will include my design for a…………(wait and see) later this month. All I can say at the moment is that it is going to be demonic and detailed and possibly felted as I think the 100% Pure New Wool from Coldharbour will be ideal for that purpose.

My Very Special Birthday Gift

It was my birthday recently. I am now at an age when I want to freeze the number, no more birthdays please! However, my other half went out of his way to buy some extra special gifts, one of them being a beautiful wooden swift from the Hand Weavers’ Studio in Walthamstow. Here is a picture of me enjoying that spinning action. I just know that it is something that is going to grow old beautifully (unlike me) as the wood on the spindle becomes smoother with use. Also thanks to Claire Montgomerie ‘Monty’ a textiles artist and knitwear designer who has been there for a lot of my knitting/crochet queries and has always replied so quickly and honestly.

My partner Stevie who had no idea what a swift was, popped into Loop and spoke to Claire who sent him in the right direction for a very thoughtful gift. Here is a pic of me using it, I know it is blurred it is an action shot innit?