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Innovative Knitting

There has been some interesting discussions with regard to innovation within knitting technique on one of the publishing forums and I thought I would document some of my thoughts here. Dotted around, are some photos of the more bizarre side of the craft just to break up the tex

I am self taught, and have some odd little practices and techniques that have arisen out of wanting a particular shape or stitch pattern.. When I want to create things, especially 3D type of stuff in crochet, I will look at my sketch, or a real life object and I will somehow do what is necessary to create the thing I want and it might not be a conventional way of doing it or something that has been done before.

However, a lot of these things have not had a public airing. When they have, either a publication has edited my technique to enter a standard and well know way of getting something similar or it has been published, but I have had plenty of queries asking for more explanation of how to do that e.g. doing Intarsia in the round, which is not technically possible but I have achieved some in a most peculiar way!

I am not saying so much I am totally original and innovative in the way a
finished piece looks, but my ways and means of getting there may have been invented for me to achieve it. I am still in the process of experimenting to try and come up with stitches and lace patterns no-one else has ever done, but in the main even if I invent these things for myself, I will find some old article of ancient stitch libraries and found someone had perhaps come up with the same stitch a couple of hundred years ago, so I have only re-invented it.

Someone somewhere, without being taught had to have invented knitting in the first
place! Then historically other techniques, would have got buried, and through the process of human beings having the same approaches, would have re-invented this but in exactly the same method. I wonder what would happen if there was an apocalypse ony a few of us survived,collectively as a race we know how to purify water, make our own clothes, buildour own houses and make electricity but individually we don't, but we would reinvent these things in time. So I feel the same for people knitting in a vacuum before the internet, we invented stuff for ourselves that perhaps other people were doing simultaneously. A good example of this, is the magic loop method of knitting on a circular, or the 2 circular method. I worked this out on my own with no instruction not even knowing such a method existed before the internet was available and I owned only 2 knitting pamphlets that were my grannies and post war and basic.

Necessity is
the mother of invention. I thought I was a clever cloggs for a while, then discovered other people had been doing exactly the same simultaneously without any connection between us. When I discovered these ways of knitting in the round elsewhere, there were modifications that made it a bit easier than my own method, so sharing it had improved it as far as those inventors were concerned.

I did a similar things with knitting some socks, not
having done any before as a teenager, I just sort of invented my own shaping and knitted them on 2 needles, and they worked and had no sewing necessary. But, now I can find those similar methods anywhere and it is not original.

When I learned in theory, about doing short rows with wraps it was just words in my ears and quite stupidly I sat down and knitted my first pair of socks with short row heels, without reading any instructions. Then, when I published a sock pattern, I had to make sure that what I did was standard so tried out other people's methods, and I didn't have as much success as with my own, but as I didn't write it down, lost the knack of what I did before I allowed other methods to muddy my waters!

Picture Sources
1. and 4. Body Technology Interfaces Knitting
2. Freddie Robins
3. Early Egyptian Knitted Sock
4. Chicken Viking Hat
MagKnits has gone!

If you were looking for Erssie Major's free patterns from Magknits, you can still get a free download. Email erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk as these patterns will be available from the end of April 2008 onwards. I am having these patterns republished on a different site, but definitely free to knitters. Apologies for leading you here, the archives of MagKnits are not available to the designers yet and we didn't know this was going to happen.

Vintage Magknits! Bee Hat and Booties by Erssie Major
Free updated version of Pattern coming soon
Email: erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk

This was a bit of a shock to me. I usually check Magknits round about the 1st of the month, rarely in the middle. A reader hoping to get hold of one of my MagKnits patterns, told me it no longer existed.

It seems a shame that it has closed so suddenly, without access to archives or some sort of memoriam at least for the readers who enjoyed it. For designers too, especially for me, this has happened at a bad time without warning. It does mean that my Ravelry records need updating, and that I don't have links to free patterns for knitters for those designs and I apologise for that. It means I have to check biographies that went out to anyone where my work is under submission, as it won't look good when links to previous work will come up as NOT FOUND!

There are more than likely designers out there, who still don't know that their published work is no longer public. I noticed the holding page mentioned that designers were advised for March and April, and at first glance it reads that we were contacted in those months, but no, only those designers who had current designs in the recent issue were told, not previous designers.

Cinderella & Skywatcher Baby Socks
Magknits pattern available free
if you email me

There will be archived patterns on the Yarn Forward site and I am considering whether to have them hosted there, or elsewhere depending on how long it takes as I want them to be up again by 1st of May. Yarn Forward have contacted me since this post to let me know that is what they intend to do.

Anyway, firstly I am tidying up all links so that readers don't get annoyed at reaching dead ends. bear with me.

G8 Mother and Daughter Hats
MagKnits pattern is still free if you email me
I am thinking of doing some variations on this, with African patterns

I will supply these patterns free to anyone who emails me and if they are hosted by someone else in the future, they will still be free to the knitters. I just need a few days from now though to tidy things up.

Still can't get over the sudden removal of MagKnits, I always imagined that archives would remain as a static element and would have thought that links to archives could be a good way to bring those Magknits readers people to the Yarn Forward magazine.

There are always changes in the backgrounds of businesses. They may have branches of it closing, new staff, a takeover etc but I think the trick is to have a smooth transition from one to the other, without customers even noticing the joins. If YF can get free patterns up in their archives, that could only be a good thing. MagKnits could become 'vintage'!
Knitting and Hounds

I have just finished reading my own yarn reviews below, and nearly fell asleep! I must have been in a really serious state of mind on the day I wrote those (note to self: I must condense my yarny opinions into one or two sentences).

I thought as an antidote, I could put up some of the photos that have come through for my new gallery on Flickr;Gorgeous Greyhounds that are of interest to crafters too. As well as normal doggie shots, there are pics of greyhounds and knitting and crochet. These are just a few of the pics people have taken of their Italian Greyhounds wearing a scaled down version of the Dizzy Lily Snood. Look at cute little Froggy in the green one!

Here are some lifesize crochet hounds that I would definitely be making if I had more time.

Here is a rather stylish Crochet aran sweater for a greyhound

Lastly, this is a hilarious little misty valentine's pic by Greyhound Crafts of their crochet hounds, but they look exactly like Dizzy and Lily!
I have mentioned elsewhere so forgive the cross post, that Dizzy's littermates are now coming up for adoption as they are at that age to retire from racing. Dizzy's brother Osmosis Joe and his sister, both chocolate (dark) brindles are now in Essex Greyhound Rescue's kennels and are looking for a home together. They are 4yrs old, I will post more details after I have met them and photographed them and the other hounds available for adoption.

If you know anyone or hear of anyone who is thinking of adopting a dog,tell them a greyhound makes a lovely pet. They are so cuddly and willing to please. I think Dizzy's litter will go quickly, because of their good looks and unusual marking as well as their bouncy happy temperaments. Not all dogs are so lucky, especially the black ones which are much harder to rehome.

Some Yarn Reviews

I have tried a variety of commercial yarns recently and was lucky enough to get some yarns donated so was not totally guided by budget. Rather than put up reviews of yarns, and moan about their negative qualities, I am going to list some of my favourite factory yarns and why I like to work with them.

I think in the world of blogging factory yarns get a raw deal and people prefer to go on about the unique qualities of hand spun. However, as a designer, quite often yarns have to be available Worldwide, they have to be machine washable with a guarantee of no dye run and you need to know you can rely on them to deliver. Making things for a publisher with a short deadline is not a time to be experimenting, although that can be done in my free time.

The qualities of factory yarns are consistent and I have had few problems of shrinkage, dye run have found that suppliers generally don't let me down. Also, although I would love to promote British Wool producers and spinners, many of them are not open to donation for publishing jobs and these days publishers will not write a budget in for yarns.

Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran
100% Extra Fine Merino Wool
87 ½ yds (80m)/ 1 ¾ oz (50g)
18sts/24 rows to 10cm on 5mm needles
This is a superfine Superwash merino. I can’t tell you the technical term for the way it is spun, but I can say that it looks like it is made up of spirals around a central strand and seems to have air in the middle of the strand. There are quite a few yarns out there at the moment that seem to have been spun in this way and it makes it light and spongy and you can get some beautiful stitch definition. There is a sheen to the knitted fabric and it looks clean and non fuzzy. Beware though, as this really would show up any uneven stitches. However, the spongy texture of the yarn allows for a stitch to expand and fill the space so stitches look neat and tight at any gauge, whether knitted on 4.5 mm (US7) or 5 mm (US8). The colour range started out being a little on the strong or bright side so ideal for kids. However it has expanded and now has more subtle and dark shades, although when I checked recently I was struck by the fact there was no grey. They yarn is also available as Debbie Bliss Rialto DK and has fewer shades in this gauge of yarn

Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran

75% Extra Fine Merino Wool, 20% silk, 5% cashmere 86m / 50g ball
18sts/24 rows to 10cm on 5mm needles
This yarn is a good substitute for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. It has fewer shades and no brights as such although it has a strong red. Because this yarn contains silk, it can look a little crumpled whilst working with it compared with a pure merino, and looks a little worrying, but when it has been laundered or very lightly pressed the stitches do even out. I am told it is a joy to wear, and it does not seem to cause any irritation in my niece and nephew who suffer from eczema. This is also available in DK with more shades, and Baby DK which is a mainly pastels range with 3 different shades of pink and 2 shades of off white. My main drawback with this yarn, is that it creases easily as I said before but it also tangles easily, however well the ball is wound it seems to collapse! A tip from Amy Singer though, is to not wind balls that are very silky into centre pull balls as the middles empty and cause the outside to collapse. I am going to knit my niece a ballet wrap top from the DK version of this. There is also a Sublime Extra Fine Merino Wool DK. As someone who writes patterns, I do find their names unmemorable and difficult to get in the right order!

Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

55% Merino Wool, 33% Microfibre, 12% Cashmere 90m/50g
I fell in love with this as a basic hat yarn, and loved the shades available. Then I knitted some gloves in Super Chunky Cashmerino, and it pilled so badly I thought that any version of this yarn was going to do the same. Since then, the Super Chunky version has been discontinued but there is a Chunky in its place, and to be fair, I never got any pilling problems with the Aran version.

I knitted this hat with the Cashmerino Aran and am working on some secret projects using the same. It is cuddly and soft but also very hardwearing. You don’t get a huge amount of stitch definition compared with a pure merino, but you do get softness to make up for that. It can be a bit floppy, so not suitable for really sculptural stuff but it does drape beautifully. I have found though, that when I knit with this it makes my stitches much smaller than with other Aran yarns. That is not something I normally experience as my gauge is normally completely rigid unless I change needle size (albeit slightly looser than other knitters, but is the same as Woolly Wormhead's!)

Coldharbour Mills
100% Pure new British Wool 188yd/172m per 3.5oz/100g hank
The Mill produces knitting yarn in a variety of shades in Aran/Worsted, DK and 4Ply.
It is a blend of 100% pure new British Wool. They blend several colours together to get the heathered shades. I love the worsted yarn they have as a good hardwearing everyday y
arn although I found it a bit scratchy for garments. I think the softness of this yarn depends very much on the dyeing process so some shades are softer to the touch than others. I used to make my Silvanus bag and the yarn fulls beautifully, but also a few hats for Alice who is 4. Alice tells me the hat is a little bit hot and scratchy. At £4.25 per 100g it is a bargain. I have a couple of hanks in Honey, which is a mid yellow, and just cannot think what to do with it, any ideas would be most welcome....Can you think of what to do with a colour like Yellow?

Sirdar Click (chunky)
30% Wool, 70% Microfibre 75m per 50g
I used to use a lot of Sirdar yarns mainly for knitting for kids. I just could not bear to spend a lot of money on natural fibres for certain Mums who had not a clue about the value and thought it was worth sticking in the washing machine anyway! Also, I didn't think my knitting was good enough or the designs finished enough to knit in a more luxurious yarn but this has been a false economy as a lot o those designs are now on a list to be reknitted in natural yarns.
The yarns that Sirdar made for kids was mostly 100% synthetic but also machine washable. However, they have brought out several new ranges over the past year that use a higher percentage of natural materials. I should imagine knitters have put the pressure on.

I recently was given some of the above to make a pet blanket which is not going ahead now. However, given a choice of either Cashmerino Chunky or this yarn knitters preferred to have this yarn for a dog blanket so I have come up with a brand new design to make some squares with doggie motifs. A little wool makes it warm, the Microfibre makes it much more hardwearing and if people donate their doggie knits to charities it will be perfect. On 6.5mm (US10) needles it knits quickly, however, I felt I had regressed many years as I recognised the slight squeak of working with an acrylic yarn like this and the mess you can make trying to do Intarsia or Fair Isle. Ahhhhh I want 50% wool at least, or if not that silk or cotton. However, must persist to get a machine washable design

However, Sirdar have now brought out some new natural yarns
Luxury Soft Cotton DK and Luxury Soft Cotton 4 ply as well as Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo with wool and Peru Naturals wool with alpaca and acrylic. I have samples of these, but have yet to knit up into garments so will let you know when I've tried them.