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More Fair Isles and Simply Knitting

It is definitely a very very Fair Isle February. I have just received a copy of the current Simply Knitting magazine and my patterns for charity Fair Isle beanies are featured in this issue.

They are very very easy but they are aimed at beginners or people wishing to knit things up quickly for charity with odds and ends from their stash.

You can aslo find these patterns on the Childrens' Society website.


I have finally knitted up an adult version of one of my most popular baby hats Ghostkulls. I decided to have fun with this as it is going to be my own hat so I have knitted it in pinks and renamed it Girlie Ghostskulls.

Here is a quick pic although it hasn't been washed and blocked yet. I also experimented with the Fair Isle stranding method inspired by Elizabeth Zimmerman.
Although strictly speaking the strands should be flat and caught in every few stitches, I find on hats where there is a great contrast and large blocks of background, there is the problem of the strands showing through onto the right side of the work once the hat is worn and stretched.

I vaguely remember somewhere in her book Knitting Without Tears Elizabeth Zimmerman advocates abandoning this and seeing what will happen. the idea is that if the garment is in pure wool, after a few wears the stranding almost felts itself to the back of the work as it gets rubbed and washed. I have found this to be true of most hats I make, after a year or two you couldn't even see where the stranding is so as I will be wearing Girlie Ghostskulls myself I will just be careful not to catch the strands until they have bedded down. It has certainly made a difference with regard to the smoothness of the Fair Isle.
Just a Quickie to remind everybody about Stitchlinks

Stitchlinks is an organisation that promotes the idea of knitting as therapy by carrying out valuable scientific research. I support this idea as I have used knitting as a source of therapy for my own physical problems and coping with severe nerve pain.

The organisation is about to put up a form which they hope all knitters will be able to fill out as a little bit of research into the ways in which you use knitting. so visit their site:

Look out for the form and use their other resources.
Another Magazine On Line with Free Patterns
This is a magazine that I stumbled on today whilst looking at some of Marnie Maclean's patterns. the magazine is called Spindlicity go and check it out. I particularly like these Nordic socks. I am all for on line sources of FREE patterns that have good quality instructions and clear detailed photographs. If you know of any more magazines not listed under my Textiles Magazines heading, then let me know.

I am having a very Fair Isle orientated Winter. I am going to submit a couple of my recent designs to an on line magazine and those too use Fair Isle techniques.

Boxy Beanie

I wanted to finish another project within February for the February Fair isle knit along so came up with this really simple boxy retro pattern. Ideal for beginners. I think I might make a pair of mittens to match and give the pattern away to people who want to have a go at their first colour work project.

Spot the not so deliberate mistake! I merrily fitted in my paired decreases this morning whilst eating a bowl of muesli/yoghurt and drinking a cup of coffee. Oops my boxy top developed half a round that shouldn't be there. I will try to pull it out and correct it before the end of Feb. I just don't want another colourful hat that has a plain top though so determined to feed the pattern out of the 'triangles' to show beginners how to work colour and shaping at the same time.

Mmm I wonder how I will do my thumb on the mitten though? I like to insert a gusset to ease my thumb in rather than just leave it as an after thought but that might involve complications if I want a plain thumb and a patterned mitten in the round. What are your favourite/most comfortable thumb constructions? What would be easy for a beginner?

If you would like to go to one of I knit's club nights, the next one is at the Phoenix Pub, Cavendish Square nr Oxford Circus (London of course) on 18th March. I will be going, hope to see you there.

Do have a look at Gerald's site, he is doing so well. First of all he has got Men to Knit, not an easy task but he's done it. He also has a friendly LYS and lots of community events. This is what I would like to have seen for Angel Knits but first of all we need members to come along to our night regularly. Do email angelknitslondon@gmail.com if you would like to register your interest or come to The New Rose pub on Essex Rd on Tues nights from 6pm onwards.

To regular members, do email me if you are coming along and I will put the details up on the blog. I feel that if we knew if other AKers were committed to going along, then others would be encouraged to turn up and numbers in the winter months would increase. I am guilty of not being a regular attendant but I do have health problems, Knitting projects I am not allowed to show in public which are consuming my time, I do live just outside of London and it can take up to 2hrs to get there and really it is a big deal for me to go all the way there to find no-one else is there!
Fair Isle WIP is a UFO
Fair Isle February Project

Well I finished part of an Ear Flap Chullah style hat, but I don't like the designs on there and there is too much pink going on. I do think that the drugs that I am on that cause confusion and indecision make an impact when I am trying to use colour. they make me hop from project to project as well.

Also,I need to pay more attention to the perfect amount of stretch to put on a Fair Isle Hat as you want it snug but overstretching can make the stranding look a bit wobbly.

This is all basic stuf that I forget when I have been away from colour work. Thanks to Fair Isle February I am well and truly giving myself a kick in the behind! I bet when I go back to my textured work (WIPing and UFOing in a bag) I will have forgotten how to place cables and bobbles on my purl wedges!

I gave up knitting this hat after the first ear flap (2nd ear flap syndrome?) and feel sort of flustered as I only have the rest of today and tomorrow to complete 'personal' projects before more desk work (pattern checking) comes in. I dream of having leaisure time to knit what I want, and when I am busy have so many ideas but when the leisure time comes, I just mess around
and get nothing useful done!

However, part of my messing around this time was to familiarise myself with charts and think about how I would design a Tam. I did know that I needed a wedge, but couldn't for the life of me decide how that wedge would fit together to make the points of a star or other top central pattern. It sort of clicked though when I realised that all I had to do was divide my top into quarters, fifths, sixths, sevenths or eighths and just desig
n around the centre stitch. Working from the centre out would probably be the best sort of thing.

You can see some sort of wedge thing going on with my hand drawn chart. where the decreases start every other row, I jotted down the number of stitches in that part of the repeat and total number of stitches in case I wanted to stick a peerie around that band. It was easier to think in terms of repeats per band but further up a single motif centred in each wedge would be best.

Now I might go off and have a go at a mohair beret, something simple to knit in the evenings whilst relaxing after pattern checking. Meli my new knitter and knitting buddy has knitted a few mohair
berets and although they are very simple in design, they do look beautiful on the head and don't squash the freshly washed hair at all.

A perfect example of a fusion of form and function. I sometimes forget that part of knitting is being able to make personal garments. A lot of stuff I have designed is not for me to wear and looking around, there is definitely a call for simple clear patterns to get people making their own clothes.

Fair Isle February

I've never been part of a Knit-along before bu
t was particularly attracted to this site, Fair Isle February because I was struggling over my colour work recently. Not the technique, just making the decisions about what to make and which colours to use and how to chart them so they are Traditional but totally original at the same time. Not easy either when I decided it was going to be a beret/Tam design so needs a mind like a kaleidoscope.

Then I realised.....Oh my giddy aunt I have turned into a 'design' snob! Instead of admiring the skill and the beauty of a technique like Fair Isle, I am constantly thinking "Yeah nice colour work but did you really design it yourself or did you just get it off a chart in a book?"

Who cares! Unless of course you are hoping to publish that design. I must now abandon those nagging thoughts which are inhibiting in my knitting and just knit...well, something that I would truly like to own and
wear, regardless of how it comes about. I think my nerves about colour work have come about due to the fact that my favourite book Enchanted Knitting has been the source of some of my colour work borders and motifs and that it makes me feel like a fraud as a 'designer' because someone else charted them. You can see some of my first attempts at those Fair Isle designs scattered around here.

I do have plenty of charts I designed myself as well, but am inhibited about knitting
them up because I want to save their debut for something really special and this current garment might waste them.

How I wish I could discipline myself into following other people's patterns without going off at a tangent. How comforting and orderly it would be to sit down and know where I am in a project as I am following the pattern line by line. However, that could also be dull.....................

I'm off to knit an extremely colourful hat with very simple Fair Isle patterns. I am going to make somet
hing I would truly love to wear in as many colours as I can get my hands on!

I quite like this sort of thing though, little kaleidoscopic patterns working out into a perfect mathematical beauty.

Edward Trencom's Nose Giles Milton

Just finished reading this novel. It is enormous fun and has the odd dig at other literary works which made me chuckle. The story though is a little bit on the childish side and I could imagine it being a good clean drama for children on a Sun afternoon (once the few adult only parts were edited out). For anyone who enjoyed The Vesuvius Club Mark Gatiss this is a novel for you.

Next on my list is The Girls Lori Lansens a fictional story about two girls who were born as conjoined twins. I will write up a little bit about it when I have finished it. As always, I am always willing to send you a second hand copy in return for a SAE and exchange link to your ‘blog.

The Anticraft Imbolc Issue

The new issue of the Anticraft is up, go and have a look. I know they have been exceptionally busy on a book project and so hadn't been expecting to see an issue pop up so soon!

My favourite projects on first glance are The Beanis (beanbag rudey bits) and A Petticoat For All Times (a petticoat you could quite easily travel back to the 1500's,1600's, 1700's, 1900's in and not look out of place - unless like in The Time Traveller's Wife you find yourself unable to transport anything material back except your own skin and bones!)

Talking of the Anticraft, here is a version of the Silvanus Bag by Anna Ault. I do believe it might be better than the original. Which is exactly the reason I like to write patterns. Since having restricted abilities due to the 'arms problem' I find that I get much more satisfaction out of designing and writing patterns than I do out of making things as my making skills are at best average!

Doggie update - We went to look at the 2yr old Doberman up for adoption because his owners are expecting a baby. Sadly, we found him to be immature and very anxious in his temperament. He does not trust 'strangers' and although we were expecting him to be wary, we were not expecting him to snap at us unprovoked and then to receive no form of correction for it. Although we have the ability to train this out of him and to get him socialised and grown up, we also felt that we didn't have the extra time or energy to do this at the moment. We deserve (after last year) to have good times with a dog and there are plenty of adult dogs who could be given a home that don't have a personality problem. If we ever got a Doberman, we would probably get a puppy as badly trained we feel that this breed could be dangerous in the wrong hands and you need to get a dog out of bad habits at a young age before it becomes big enough to overpower you.

Books, more books.............plus a little giveaway

There are a couple of friends' birthdays coming up, as well as Valentine's Day so I took the chance I had on my way back from hospital to shop and of course, couldn't stop myself looking at books.

I have just finished Janet Street-Porter's biography Baggage mentioned in an earlier review
. It is a memoir of her childhood written with a touch of bitterness balanced by her witty humour. Now I like to share my books, so this is a little giveaway,if you can send me a stamped addressed envelope suitable for:
Parcel/packet 306g, 130mm x 200mm and 205mm depth I will post you a 2nd hand copy of this book if you are a first time receiver of one of my 2nd hand books Email me erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk to get an address.

The books I bought today were:

The Book for Dangerous Boys
A modern day Boy's Own Annual and perfect for my brother who is a father of a little boy and will need to know about scout boys knots, naval signalling, constellations and historical pirate flags in order to answer my nephews questions once he starts to talk.

The Interpretation of Murder (Paperback)
Jed Rubenfeld

The Testament of Gideon Mack (Paperback)
James Robertson

The Girls

Yes, I am ashamed to admit it, they were all half price because they were chosen by the Richard and Judy book club. Now, over the past few years, people of an academic persuasion have been severely put off by this media-hyped selection of popular fiction, they perhaps would prefer to throw in the words 'Man Booker' . I can't help saying though that the book club on Richard and Judy helped me when I was very ill and depressed and incapable of any practical activities. When you are low on energy from a chronic illness and in a lot of pain, you can't even drag yourself to a computer let alone go to a book shop and actually feel fired up enough to make choices about what to read. So I was thankful that someone else had made a selection for me, I picked one or two things off the list with reviews I liked even though the actual books were those that I would never have gone for, either because the blurb on the back was dire or the 'package' didn't look good. I found some real gems and passed them on to my sis-in-law who read them for her book group in New Zealand. So, thanks to Richard and Judy who gave me a stepping stone back to a world I enjoy.

Now I am much better, I still like to see what they have selected, I don't approve of everything they read but I usually find one or two things off their winter collection that are unusual and most enjoyable.

I do love classics, I do love well written novels but I try to choose my books for sheer enjoyment and selfish indulgence and not for snob value. I pride myself as well on being able to choose books to suit the differing personalities of family and friends. Actually, a little bit of gossip, I once had a wee fling with someone who went on to become an author of a book I bought for my other half to read and didn't remember until I saw a full page photo of him inside the cover, it was quite a jolt I can tell you! Strangely though, his biog claims that he was most definitely gay from the age of 12 onwards. However, I can vouch for a little bit of heterosexuality in his life (not much though and I'm not going there!)

For anyone who hasn't come across them and loves reading classics and knitting too, you should log on to www.knittheclassics.com. A group that aims to bring the two together by holding forum discussions about a book whilst working on a knitting project that could be suitably linked to the book. Sadly, although I could come up with ideas and inspiration, I just don't have time to get involved. I have promised myself as well that I must do more 'me, me, me' knitting and try to build up a library of experimental swatches and techniques like tucking, pleating, darting, gusseting etc. I want some creative control over my shape (no I am not dieting, just draping my knitting that's all).