Welcome to Erssie Knits
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, email@example.com 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:
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
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 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,
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
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.
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,
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.
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……………………………………………………..
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 used 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 correct 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 you 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, you 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?
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
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
New Earflap Baby Hat and Mittens
Here is new design for Hat and Mittens in self striping sock wool. The advantage of using a sock yarn is that it is stretchy so if you get the original size right you can knit a hat for your little one that grows with them. Also, sock wool is very hard wearing and has been treated so that it doesn't felt when agitated or machine washed. I love the range of coloutrs in the Regia sock yarns, I worked really hard to make sure the colour repeats were identical on each earflap and mittens.
I have knitted a few other baby hats and socks in self striping sock yarns, the pink one is Regia Crazy Colour 6ply shade Passion, the blue one is Socka Big Mexiko Aran shade blue/black and the pixie hat is in Regia Crazy Colour 6ply Bonbon. See my website http://www.erssieknits.com
I am planning to publish these patterns next year
and still looking for good knitters to help me out................
I had been planning to have a bit of a rest from knitting so that I will be fresh and perky on my trip to New Zealand. It hasn't worked out that way and at the moment I have been knitting from dawn to dusk to get projects finished in time. Luckily all of these projects have involved a designing element and a couple of them have been proper print magazines so by Christmas I will be well and truly published.
As I keep saying, I am looking for knitters who can work to a specific gauge, it hasn't been easy. A lot of people have beautiful neat knitting but it just doesn't work for me if I have designed something for a specific size and the knitter doesn;t sue the same gauge. I've got a bag project that requires an experienced Fairisle knitter and I'm willing to pay £40 plus for a knitter to knit it up to go into the Anticraft (www.theanticraft.com) magazine on line. It involves working to a detailed chart although there are only 2 colours and there is stranding not intarsia.
All my knitters have to take a little test, it involves swatching and filling out a short questionnaire. If you;d like to see it just for your own amusement then drop me a line in an email and I will forward it to you. I've also got info sheets on how to work to gauge and instructions on increasing and decreasing. I am planning to put together sheets like this for an Erssie stitch library involving photographs or video clips. It will go on my new website which is still under development.
I've just finished writing an interview with a knitting magazine. It will be out in a major print knitting magazine, I'll let you know which one it is when it is out and you can have a laugh. They are also going to feature some of my seasonal patterns. Fair play to the journalist, she had done her research and her questions were quite personal! I still have to provide a photo and at the moment we are still trying to work out how to use a new camera.
It isn't often that my favourite things go together. But here they are.......
Just goes to show that my bikey mate does keep an eye out for interesting knits whilst surfing for motorbikes!
Here is a mini project I completed for The Little man (Harvey). He is like my step great nephew which makes me feel a bit old. The idea of the scarf was that when my Dad (grumpy gramps) and Jeannie his partner take The Little Man along the sea front in winter, his scarf will be secured with a keyhole design and buttoned down for safety reasons so that he can't pull it too tight. The yarn was leftover Rooster Almerino Aran which I love and is totally different from DB Cashmerino Aran or Alpaca Silk (it doesn't seem to 'pill' for a start). Although I do love the idea of Rooster's modern/vintage palette, I do find it a bit restricting design wise when I'm looking for very specific colours and a substitute won't do. I would choose a colour in their range for myself but my recipients want variety. I've also come across another lovely little find, a Jaeger yarn that was never released called Shetland Aran (20% alpaca/80%merino), it is a bit courser but has that satisfying woolly stability and I just want to bury my nose in the sheepy scent of it! I can understand though why this wasn't released as it being a bit courser than other alpaca/wool blends brought out at the same time, this perhaps didn't compete. I've bought a fair few skeins of it in vibrant colours for a crochet blanket that will be all mine.
Several knitting adventures are going on at the moment. I have started doing a little bit of teaching, mainly one to one sessions with students in my own home.
OTN at the mo, I am swatching for accurate gauges for a project for the new mag Yarn Forward, can't say what but it is an EK classic. I have also just finished completing some seasonal things to be included in Simply Knitting which I'm very pleased about. I've got a demonic design brewing which should be in the next issue of the Anticraft, Coldharbour Working Wool Museum is donating the yarn for this project, you should go there if you like pure new wool of British origin from a mill that has been in operation for hundreds of years. they need support as well because they are unable to afford keeping the mill open to the public, see more about them on www.coldharbourmill.org.uk . Above is a photo of one of their chimneys and their shop:
One of my knitters is currently knitting up a new Erssie Knits design in sockwool and she will be helping with my demonic bag and knitting up one of my Pirate designs for a customer on etsy. I am still getting regular orders through etsy and even better, people are asking for comissions through this site without my having to advertise. In the pipeline, I am also trying to type up all the designs from my journal of last year into standard patterns available for download as I currently have about 35 orders plus for those backing up. Sorry to all those people waiting for patterns, you have been very patient and understanding of my unmentionable health problems. On average, an Erssie Knits pattern will be £2 per download which includes tips and full colour photos. It is about time that I tried to put together a collection for an Erssie Knits book, but I am having too much fun project hopping though!
There is also news that Hookorama (crochet sequel to Knitorama/Rachael Matthews) is out later this month. There are some Erssie Knits designs amongst the collection in this crochet book. At some point I think Complete Crochet should be out this Autumn so I will be well published this winter. all the more reason to get my own book together!