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....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