Welcome to Erssie Knits

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

Lily, Dizzy and Stevie and I are away. We will be staying here, near the sea. Plenty of knitting of socks and gloves will be going on, but NO blogging or emailing so see you all in 2nd week of September. If you read this first, then try not to email me until then, I am dreading the opening of the mail when I get back.
Vogue Knitting Fall/Anniversary Issue

I have just received the Fall issue of Vogue Knitting. It has loads of cover designs inside the one above, all knits are in greys and silver yarns to celebrate this magazine's 25th year. I was really excited as I flicked through. I do love this magazine and I know that when I am looking at it, I am not browsing for something to wear or something practical to knit, I am looking for innovation and inspiration and simple touches that make me green with envy I didn't do it first. And I am rarely disappointed. Even if something is not practical or a garment I would wear, I can admire the photography and think about what I would have done with a particular story.

This magazine does have class, even if it is criticised as being far too couture and not enough practical designs for real shapes. That is the idea though, that there should be a standard of knitting that rivals catwalk shows we see in other areas of the Fashion Industry and that these sorts of presentations should be wild and exaggerated and that the techniques or effects can be filtered down or watered down and act as inspiration for our own designs at street level.

We should celebrate as well, that somehow, a team of people who have worked their socks off have achieved looks that are far from lumpiness people associate with knitting. Quite often my non knitting acquaintances remark that they wouldn't want something hand knitted, that they don't like 'knitting', but are then totally surprised to find that they do indeed own knitting but wouldn't have defined it in that way.

I picked out some of my fave designs that have FREE patterns on the VK website and here they are. A 60's style shift dress, I love the simple A-line and the layout of Fair Isle lozenges. This sort of clothing is the sort I would have worn in the 80's being a follower of retro fashion of the 50's and 60's.

I also like this sweater dress. I can see this being worn over jeans, this is such a simple but striking design. Nothing too fussy or overcomplicated and proving that Vogue can be easy and does provide patterns for the beginner to intermediate knitters.

Who would have thought grey could be silver and yarns of this shade could be so interesting?

And lastly, a Debbie Bliss classic, I love the use of cables that decrease to make the flare on the lower bottom of the jacket, and the sideways cable seprating the yoke from the skirt of the jacket.

Vogue also welcome designs from new or young designers as well as the usual well known Debbie Bliss and Kaffe Fasset types. Vogue have a number of publications all looking for striking designs of all levels of intricacy. Their magazine Knit 1 is for urban and high street type fashion designs and their Magazine Knit Simple was laucnhed especially to encourage 'scarf knitters' to go onto the next stage. I have a hat, the most simple hat you could knit really with a bit of texture work, coming out in the Holiday issue of this magazine.

I can also say, that my dealings with the Vogue team, and the respect I was shown (along with the speed of the payment and contracts) was the best I have received from any magazine but now accepting anything less than that is difficult. I am having a hard time coping with magazine/book publishers who drag their feet about payment, don't provide proper contracts, don't provide copies of the publication, don't provide yarns in time and generally treat you as if you are the least important thing in their very busy lives (despite being manically busy yourself) and trying to remain calm. I design for fun, and perhaps when it ceases to be fun or I can see a long stretch of negotiating, emails and paperwork just to get what is standard, I am now avoiding getting involved in the first place and feel more comfortable turning the work down.

Not everyone is like that though, and people who have dealt with me and are reading this, the very fact your are taking time to read my blog probably indicates that you don't fall into one of these categories of bad publishers, so don't worry.

The Anticraft

How rude of me. How remiss not to have mentioned the latest issue of the Anticraft. What am I getting like! My only excuse is that burying my head in my own massive list of designs to be completed, I am missing what is out there and not realising how fast it all moves by, hence the tendency for things to come and go without comment. Apologies. I suppose one of the reasons I am getting behind on crafty news on this blog, is that I know that I haven't gone around giving many people this address hoping to use it as more of a personal diary to look back on in years to come. So, basically, I am assuming nobody reads the blog, and I don't invite comments if they do, so sometimes I drag my feet when making a note of what I have seen and surfed.

Well, I just love the Painted Lady cropped sweater with built in mitts. Beautiful. And I also love all the other designs on the Blue Alavarez Designs website, you can find the knitting patterns here.

I especially like this this orange sweater and this shrug. I do wish I had a figure to show it off though. Sadly, I rarely knit for myself as the lines and tailoring I would prefer to wear just don't look good on me and I look so lumpy. Maybe that is because I am with all that scar tissue and thrombophlebitis I have more dips, craters and mountains than the Moon.

I feel a collection of patterns in plus sizes coming on! Yeah I know, bigger sizes means more yarn and extra time and obviously more expense. I must make it my goal though to make knits that truly glamou
rise the fuller figure. Did anyone see Cape Wrath recently? The character Jezebel was so beautiful and glamourous, I would aspire to have her style, just look at her, she would look fantastic in some 50's inspired knitwear wouldn't she?

Short Row Heel
Short R
ow Hell!

It has been years since I used short rows for shaping. Years since I knitted an adult sock, with neat little wrapped stitches that did not show up at all. I know that my short row heels never looked like anyone elses and I switched off when people talked of holes or visible wraps as it was a problem I had never experienced. All the short row heels dotted around this page, as neat as they are, don't look anything like the ones I used to get. I thought I had that technique under my belt, part of my tool kit to use at a point when I felt a short row heel was just the thing I needed. As I am designing quite a few pairs of socks for patterns at the moment, I needed to make variations on the types of heel and construction. The short row heel is the best feature of a toe up sock certainly, because it is mirrored which ever way you approach it whereas the flappy heel needs to be thought out in reverse.

My favourite type of heel to wear personally is the slip stitch or double knitted flap heel shown here on the right. It doesn't look
great when you want to photograph a sock and it is the heel least like a commercial sock. However, unlike a commercial sock, hand knitted socks easily rub in to holes at the heel and a short row heel may look cool but it is the worst type of heel for becoming a bit baggy or wearing into a hole. Many knitters don't know that. The reason being that many knitters make socks as gifts and don't actually get round to making socks for themselves. Their recipients rarely complain about the socks falling apart after a few wears, that would be rude. Some knitters like their socks to look good as socks off the feet and photographed flat of course and don't realise that beauty sacrifices practicality. If they did, they would know a heel needs reinforcement either by knitting in a rib or holding together with a nylon thread or introducing another strand of yarn.

Anyway, last night I thought I would just knit a heel on its own, practice the old wrapping technique and see what shaping looks best over a certain number of stitches. Wrapping went well, shortening the rows OK. Then came the time to lengthen my rows and despite picking up the wraps and carefully placing them on the needle, I could not avoid getting a lacy hole! I looked back at a child's sock I did years ago for myself, couldn't find anything there that resembled the mess I had created. I started again, and despite now twisting the wrap the other way, got the same clumsy looking result ...mmmmmmm...... I seem to have forgotten how to perfect this technique. I have done short rows recently but somehow managed to avoid wrapping and didn't get a hole or any kind of mark at all. How did I do it?

Now, the sensible thing to do is to research, look at other patterns and practice the techniques described there to see if I have forgotten something very basic. However, I don't want to do this because I want the design to be mine and once I start looking at other people's instructions, I lose the originality of my own instructions because I will be influenced by their words and may repeat them in my own patterns inadvertently. I want to be able to publish a sock pattern and for me to be able to say, I did not use any other patterns as inspiration, I worked it out on my own, and this is the best result.

So, it is back to the needles and yarn, and see if I can invent my own way of getting rid of unsightly blips where the short rows end and start again.

Next I am going to talk about my personal bugbear, the argument over whether professional knitting should be laundered or not before returning to a client. Honestly, if I sent my knitting to people without washing it I would worry about hygiene and smells but more than that, I would worry that the first impression of my knitting would be that it is uneven and crumpled looking. Some yarns, especially sock yarns, only come into their own after the first wash. Some manufacturers do put a light dressing on their sock yarns to keep them stiff and non splitting whilst working with them and are transformed into soft and fluffy fabrics when washed after knitting.

I will demonstrate with some before and after shots of a simple baby sock. You should be able to see the difference. Even garments knitted in the round are helped with a bit of laundering and then blocking to the right dimensions. Watch this space for more on that.
Here is a version of the hat knitted by Alex Kiernan in blues for her nephew (sorry her blog link is unavailable/private)

This is one of my patterns which has been knocking around for a good few years now but remains officially unpublished. It was originally a baby hat, but has also been made into an adult version called Girlie Ghostskulls knitted in pinks and a mini version for the Bratz dolls below.

The main reason for it being unpu
blished is that publishers view this as a non edgy design, too easy to knit to make it a seller of a pattern, and the pirate theme being too common amongst knitters to warrant another pattern being published. Now what is surprising, is that of all my knitting designs, this is the pattern most requested by knitters and I have to constantly send out emails to disappoint them by saying the pattern is not yet available. I have even had a request from an etsy member saying that she has had a number of requests for knitting up this design from buyers and could I give her permission to knit it and come to some arrangement about licensing.

Despite the requests for it to be supplied or knitted up, it remains ubpublished, and I can't help feeling I should hang on to it for something really special in the future.However, I have supplied the odd pattern to a few knitting buddies as a private arrangement so that they can knit it up for relatives or for non profit uses.