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Las Calacas Danzantes

Designed by Erssie Major
Modelled by Jennifer Gwiazdwoski
Photography by Stevie Savage of Raid Zero
Knitted by Erssie Major (turqoise)

My latest knitting pattern is up on the Anticraft site in their Samhain issue 2008, you can download it from there. If you need a little reminder on how to do Kitchener stitch, then you can see the instructions on my previous post

I have a love of these socks. They look so nice when done, but you really get involved with them when you're making them and each stitch has to be lovingly laid down. The heels were easier to do than it looks. The issue had a dia de los muertos theme hence the Dancing skeletons with their sombreros and there was also an option to duplicate stitch little cherries and stalks onto the skellies on the charts. I also have another socks pattern Pequenos Relojes de Arena, and a Skull & Cherries chart and and Calavera Naranja orange skull chart in the same issue. I still have another project on the go, to come as a surprise around Halloween on the Anticraft too. Seems like a lot of stuff, but I did design these things over quite a few months which is how they accumulated.

To avoid any confusion with reading charts I recharted the design for each size. The skeleton motifs remain the same, but I plotted out little Fair Isle style dots cascading down in the same yarns used on that line so that there are floats in between the motifs.

Whilst knitting this I deliberately did NOT twist or catch any of my yarns at the back. I literally dropped the colour and picked up the next loosely stranding across the back. With a 100% fleece type yarn, those strands will stick to the backs and bed down with time so why bother knitting in the floats. Also, if you have ever tried to knit socks with colour stranding you may find that when the stitches stretch apart on your legs, the twisted yarns are in danger of peeking through.

If you like sock pics and want to see more go to the Flickr album

I used Artesano Alpaca 4ply in various shades to make the turqoise version above, Kate Blackburn knitted up this other version below in Regia Clown that is self striping

Also, for a Samhain Halloween theme as well as this dia de los muertos theme, I have a free Dancing Skeleton Chart with Top Hat and Motif available in my list of PDFs, so click on the sidebar then scroll down my list of patterns and upload it is

I have another skulls chart with the same theme, but it is not just a single motif it is a whole wallpaper of them charted out so you can use on a blanket, or perhaps on some stockings like I did. It is called Tessellating Skulls and is also in my list of pdfs

Kitchener Stitch & Twisted Cords

This is a brief explanation of how to close the toe on a sock using Kitchener stitch. It is mainly to support the pattern Las Calacas Danzantes recently published in The Anticraft Samhain 2008 issue. Also attached is a wordy explanation of how to make twisted cords which are useful for bags, hair ties and even a cord for a light switch/pull.

I have also made a playlist on the ErssieKnits YouTube channel of people demonstrating this method. Click on Playlists in the menu on channel

Closing the Toe – Kitchener Stitch

This method is the best way of grafting the stitches so that they are continuous around the toe with no seam therefore less rubbing. It is very easy to do but needs concentration and should be done all in one sitting.

Arrange so that top of foot sts are on one dpn, and bottom of foot sts are on another dpn with the yarn tail on the bottom RH side

Hold the 2 needles parallel to each other with the yarn tail at the back right hand side

Thread yarn through a darning needle

Thread yarn/needle through 1 st on front needle P-wise and leave st on needle

Thread yarn/needle through 1 st on back needle K-wise leave st on needle

*Thread yarn/needle through next st on front needle K- wise and take st off needle

Thread yarn/needle through next st on front needle P-wise and leave st on needle

Thread yarn/needle through next st on back needle P-wise take off st off needle

Thread yarn/needle through next st on back needle K-wise and leave st on needle

Rpt from * until all sts have been taken of the needles, then take yarn tail through to wrong side of toe on the inside of sock and secure

Twisted Cords (see also the slide show below)

Cut equal lengths of yarn (enough so that doubled up it is thick enough and much longer than you need for your cord)

Make sure that the yarn is ties into long continuous loops. You can place two chairs about 5 foot apart and wind the yarn around the top/knobs of the chair back if you wish, or turn chairs upside down and use legs. Ask a partner to help you if you can.

Place one end of loop yarns over door handle, chair post, or chair leg.or other person
Insert a pencil, pen or dpn into all loops at opposite end

Pull taught and twist yarn by spinning a pencil/pen/dpn

Keep twisting until yarn is so tight it is almost pulling back on itself

Slide a finger half way along length of twisted yarn still keeping end taught

Fold yarn/twist in half and put loop/pencil/pen/dpn together with loop over door handle (post or leg)
Let go of finger holding halfway mark and allow yarn twist on itself
Tie knots at the beginning and end of the cord to secure the twisted strands and cut below the knot to give it a small tassel
Thread each cord through band of eyelet holes or use as desired

How To Make Twisted Cord
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: tutorial handmade)

UPDATE: Lily has had surgery, 4 lumps were removed and all diagnosed as cysts or benign skin/blood tumours called a Hamartoma. Her vulva biopsy though showed a chronic thickening and inflammation within the folds so we have to wash and dry her and put nappy rash cream on. Talk about a child substitute! We are so relieved, and she was so brave despite being bruised, scarred, stitched and poorly

Darling Lily

Knitwear for hounds supermodel, comedy greyhound, little puppy in a grown bitch's body. All those things and more, we love her to bits. Poor Lily is having surgery tomorrow, and I am a little worried about her. Have to keep on having positive thoughts though. You can see more about her on the Gorgeous Greyhounds blog

UPDATE: We picked her up Wed eve. Poor Lils has been in the wars, lots of bald patches and stitches as well as having had internal biopsies and scans. Now we have to wait until biopsies are back to find out whether the skin tumours are sarcoma, or benign.

The other strange thing is that the vet started to explain that her urine test showed an inability to be able to concentrate the urine.....and I had deja vu.
I had been told the exact same thing, and in fact after some hideous tests I was diagnosed with Cranial Diabetes Inspidus (cranial meaning it is in my head....no, not that I have imagined it but because it is due to failure of the pituitary gland which is somewhere under the skull!) DI either kidney or cranial is very rare problem with kidneys not concentrating urine and constantly losing water, and being thirsty as well as peeing ALL the time and even incontinent (sorry to go into the pants region here).

Now DI, is so very rare, so what are the chances of Lily and I having the exact same thing? It is not a transferable condition. Also reminds me that one of my eye conditions which is called a Holmes-Adie pupil, also a rarity but lucky old me even though this is a one sided disease, i.e unilateral and affects one eye only...I happen to have it bilaterally, separately but in both eyes. And of course, suffering from Behcet's Disease (with neurological problems) which in itself is a really rare condition, but even more rare apparently to have symptoms as dramatic or severe as mine (possibly BD caused all these other rarities to come about) These sorts of anomalies are commonplace in my life, and generally I don't talk about them because people start to think you are making it up! Who can have such bad luck and tragedy, and a string of rare diseases that even most doctors have never seen or heard of?

Anyway, back to mine and Lily's weeing problems. This means that as well as me having to get up to pee throughout the night and getting thirsty and drinking, Lily is doing the same thing. She needs to pee about twice once at around 2-3am and another around 4am and then again at around 5.30 am. So I trudge down the stairs, totally shattered and let Lily out go myself have a couple of hours kip and then up to do it again....It is so tiring I am starting to feel ill....wait a minute, I am feeling ill already! I do hope that we can sort Lily out and perhaps give her some replacement hormone further down the line.

And I really hope that Lils doesn't have a nasty skin problem.

I will make sure my next post is about knitting....and it should be a good one as I have a couple of patterns out very soon with lots of photos.
What Has This Got to Do With Knitting?

Answer: This is Stevie Savage of Raid Zero riding his bike on the Mallory Park Race Track, Leicestershire, UK and he is wearing an Erssie Knits knitted underwear design by Erssie Major and knitted by Joeli Caparco. Can't yet reveal the knit, or where it is to be published.....but will do soon. Noblin Knits knitted the project for photography as well.

I was very impressed though that he wore said knitwear from Friday morning until Sunday evening underneath his gear, camping in a field for the whole weekend and it was clean, dry and didn't smell a bit! Apparently it was cosy and warm which he was thankful for as camping outdoors in October in the UK is a bit chilly. Just one blade of grass fell out when I washed it.


All I can say, is Erssie might have something in the first issue of this.
Want to be kept up to date?
Come and join the Handknit Heroes group on Ravelry.
All will be revealed soon.

The Anticraft Samhain 2008

The first of the surprise knitting patterns is up on the Anticraft. It is for my pattern Pequenos Relojes de Arena which means Little Clocks of Sand i.e hourglasses.

I had a lot of fun with this pattern knitting it in the Neon colours and having it knitted up for me by Joeli Caparco in the bright Lorna's Laces colours.

Big thanks to Stevie of Raid Zero who did
the pics and of course Jenni Gwiazdowski for modelling it and being so patient. I loved her shoes as well! We got lots of good pics, and had fun dressing her up in clothes to show off the socks in her lovely shoes. Do click on these photos to see the giant versions. We are also putting more photos on Flickr of this day.

You can also see in the post below, that I have given some video support to demonstrate the 2nd row of this stitch, which is not difficult but just tricky to understand in knitting abbreviations and words. Also check out the ErssieKnits channel on YouTube which demonstrates different methods of casting on, although I need to add a couple of my own which are much easier for people like me with hand problems.

Do check out my tips on completing the 2nd row

Erssie Knits & Other Tutorial Videos

Below are some short video clips from Erssie Knits to support various patterns (listed).
I have also included some video clips on other basic techniques from various sources with permission from their original owners. Enjoy!

Little Hourglass Ribbing Demo

This is the first of the demos to be made available for pattern support on the Erssieknits YouTube channel. This stitch demo, is to support the pattern Los Pequenos Relojes de Arena published in the Anticraft this issue (Samhain 2008)

I am still a novice at video, so bear with me and the quality will improve. I couldn't add captions to the video for access by the Deaf, so I have put speech bubbles up instead and have summarised what I am saying. I waffled on a bit, so only put the relevant instructions and I know this means the Deaf can only access part of what I am saying, but please believe me I have put the most important parts into the bubbles so you can do the stitch. You can see lots of other Erssie Knits videos being added, and to make life easy just click on Playlists on the ErssieKnits YouTube channel to see them grouped into subjects. I am uploading other people's knitting videos too so enjoy! Not many vids yet, but the thing is going to grow and grow.

Here is the Little Hourglass Ribbing video, just click on it to play.
Erm, in the voice over, I keep referring to the rounds as rows....wrong! I adapted this stitch to work in the round, so think round round round not row
There are no mistakes in the actual method though, this is totally correct for round 2 of the stitch pattern

Tutorial Videos for Beginners and Intermediates

Here are some video clips from Let's Knit magazine that demonstrate some basic techniques

Video 1
Tying a Slip Knot

LetsKnit.co.uk - Demo 01 - Tying a slipknot from The Crafts Channel on Vimeo.

Video 2

Casting on Using the thumb method

LetsKnit.co.uk - Demo 02 - Casting On - Thumb Method from The Crafts Channel on Vimeo.

Casting On Using The Two Needle Method

I use this for lace on its own, or I use it as her basic cast on method but to make a firmer edge I knit into the backs of the loops on the first row and as well as firm it is a purled edge that is even and decorative from both sides.

However, knitting through the backs of loops (K tbl) can be tight, so where necessary cast on with a slightly larger needle if you want to knit into back loops then transfer to your normal needle on the first proper row of the pattern.

LetsKnit.co.uk - Demo 03 - Casting On - 2 Needles Method from The Crafts Channel on Vimeo.

Video 4
The Knit Stitch/Garter Stitch

LetsKnit.co.uk - Demo 04 - Casting On - Garter Stitch from The Crafts Channel on Vimeo.

Video 5
The Purl Stitch

LetsKnit.co.uk - Demo 05 - Casting On - Purl Stitch from The Crafts Channel on Vimeo.

Short Rows

Cat Bhordi has some very useful video clips to show wrapping and turning and picking up and hiding wraps on the heel of a sock, plus a few more. Here is one of them

Provisional Cast On Methods:
See ErssieKnits YouTube Playlists and read these notes

This is supposed to be an advanced technique but actually it is quite simple.
The purpose of it is to be able to cast on leaving a temporary edge, from which you will be able to knit downwards later. Why would you want to do that? Well it is used where a toe is knitted for a sock, and then the edge is shaped round and joined in a toe shape so the the cast on edge is unravelled and the live stitches are picked up.

I have also used it in hats, perhaps I have a hat and I am not sure exactly how long I want the hat and want to style it by look rather than measurements. I might have a provisionally cast on brim and knit up and do the crown as normal, but perhaps undo the brim edge and pick up the live stitches at the bottom once the crown is done to get the perfect length. This is a brilliant way of getting a good fit on a Rasta garment.

Perhaps as well you might have a garment that require a decorative edging later, and picking up live stitches and knitting downwards would be perfect for this.
One word of warning about that though is that when you knit downwards, your loops/stitches are slightly offset by half a stitch, so you cannot match rib to rib going in opposite directions or any complicated pattern easily.

There are several methods of provisional cast on. Some you knit onto a needle, and others use a crochet hook to knit stitches onto another needle. Then there is a fiddly way of picking up underside loops on a crochet chain. I use a very simple method with my hand disability. I just knit in waste yarn, then change to main yarn and later pick up the loops of the first row of the main yarn really easily with a flexible circular needle and literally cut the waste yarn off.

Whichever method you use, the important thing is to be able to pick up the required number of stitches and you need to undo the cast on edge to be able to do this or cut it off like me.

Another Tip: Beginners struggle to get the right number of stitches and think they have dropped one when they go to pick up stitches and undo the cast on. Actually as I said the stitches are slightly offset from the ones you were working on upwards, so when you pick up the live stitches you may find you have one less and will need to just make the numbers up by picking up one stitch in the corner. Sometimes, I make that a bit easier by knitting one more stitch than asked for on the provisional cast on, and then decreasing it by one somewhere it doesn't show as I go upwards, so that gives me exactly the number of stitches I need when I go to the cast on edge to pick up the live stitches.

I am slowly collecting videos to demonstrate these methods which you will find over on the ErssieKnits YouTube channel. I am going to video some of my own techniques when I have a moment so look out for them here and on that channel

Wanna See more videos? Go to
ErssieKnits YouTube
A new channel aiming to broadcast Erssie Knits videos and putting together some of Erssie's choices from around YouTube into useful playlists covering a variety of techniques as well as showing any quirky knitting fun in the community.
More videos coming soon...
If you have made any fun or useful videos related to knitting let me know and I can broadcast it with our permission.

Soon We'll Be Found

As well as using my hands to knit, I used to use my hands to make my living in another way. I was a sign language communicator for a Deaf school and was fluent in BSL. There is something wonderfully rhythmical about the way you can talk using BSL, and sometimes your emotions come flowing out, not hindered by the part of the brain that turns visual language into words to be spoken.

I also love music. It would be quite incorrect to think that the Deaf do not appreciate music. There are loads of degrees of deafness, and even with the most profound they often enjoy rhythm and vibration. And there is the signed song. A poem, lyrics that flow in time to music with the flow of sign language keeping the rhythm.

That is why I just love this lady, I love her voice and her songs but I also love the tremendous amount of thought put into her visual performance and costume design. We all need something to watch that feels like a dream, and for me, trying to grasp what she is singing and work out the signing is just like a dream. I can almost grasp it, but not quite for despite my fluency in BSL this is in a completely different language, ASL.

One of the myths perpetuated by the hearing world is that the Deaf's own language was decided for them by the hearing, and that this language is like a code, therefore it should be international. People are shocked and cannot understand when they learn that visual language, exactly like spoken language develops within pockets of cultures and is organic. It is not a code, it is the Deaf's own language constantly changing and updating but within each international version, there are also dialects. The sign for lemonade in one part of the UK, means something very very rude in another.

Long may the Deaf own their language, and may they constantly find new ways to communicate to keep up with society and our technology based culture.

Anyway, enjoy this video of Sia. When I saw her hands moving I felt a huge amount of grief for the loss of movement in my own hands and the inability I have to truly communicate in this way. I used to love sign singing. Knitting has been a way to fill the gap that loss of signing left for me, I had to do something with those hands!

Oh yes, and my eyes ain't what they used to be.
I have changed the blog and tried out a new lighter easier text hoping it will be better to read and write. Not easy to choose, as knitting and photos look good against a dark background, but reading text is better on a light background.

I have enlarged the text as well. I will have to check with the experts though, to find out if it is truly 'accessible'

And as well as going green, I have gone lefty too. It all seems to look better with sidebar options on the left hand side. There is a lot more space to lay out my list of patterns and long tutorial headings too. I didn't mean to run my website from my blog like this, but it is taking a little longer to get a new website than I had planned.

The Anticraft Samhain 2008

The Samhain issue of the anticraft is up; this issue has a Dia de los Muertos (Mexican Day of the Dead) theme and I have a few things included in it.
Whilst trying to sketch different motifs for a chart, I sent some sketches to Zabet and she liked one or two very rough drawings and used one as the basis for the cover above.

This skull & cherries sketch has also been converted to knitting/crochet chart, see the Anticraft to download a copy. It could be knitted or crocheted too (thanks to microrevolt for allowing me to use their software for this). If someone knitted it up that would be really cool (No way it is going to be me though, I am just too slow to catch up on my own ideas!)

There is another chart included, Calavera Naranja (Orange Sugar Skull) based on the artwork and skulls made for dia de los muertos.

This came from a very crude sketch above, and Cindy Moore of Fitter Knitter
who is a technical illustrator and graphic designer (and miles better than me in things like Illustrator or In Design) made up a chart from it. The eye sockets are left blank to do some embroidery. I am knitting this onto an accessory which will be a surprise in the Anticraft later this month.

So, three of my knitting patterns will be included later this month, all along the same kind of lines and two are perfect for any skellie or skull lovers, one is a textured pattern of a simple nature (without skellies).

In addition to this, I have a couple of other charts perfect for the Dia de los Muertos theme. One is a little dancing skellie and top hat based on the sketch above, and the other is a repeating skulls pattern which I am using on some stockings. Both are available to download from Ravelry.

New Babies

My friend Fi has had her 2nd child. The first child Alice P, knows me as knit knit. That has been her name for me for the last 5 yrs and she is used to me knitting for her. Knowing how she has enjoyed being the only child and receiver of knitwear in this family, I couldn't knit for new brother born today without including her. I had an idea though. I have written to her and sent her the above beanie in her favourite colours. And I have enclosed beanies below in colours she is not too bothered about, and appropriate for her new tiny baby brother Tom.

The thing about knitting for new babes is that their heads are really too small and delicate for a lot of fussy designs or scratchy yarns, and the Mum's think they look gorgeous in anything but quite often don't want their babes to look too different. So, as simple as it is, the little rolled brim stockinette beanie hat really is one of the best designs they could wear at that age. It has made me feel inadequate as a designer, especially with those and my simple stockinette socks recently....people will think I am regressing!

Anyway, to make up for their simplicity, the pattern is free from Ravelry and contains a few suggestions for coloured stripes. I am sure some knitters will find the size and instructions handy and they only take an hour or two to knit (even for me). Great for using up leftovers too of course. I called them Buster Baby Beanies, short for stashbuster. The blue and Red striped one is Tommy after newborn Tom and the Rasta colours I called Bobby after Bob Marley of course!!

I was hoping to see the Anticraft patterns up today, but have just seen a post and their Samhain issue will be up on Monday October 6th.

I am off to knit another something for them, and perhaps some more easy baby stuff.