Welcome to Erssie Knits

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

Here is a new card from Erssie Knits. Raid Zero did this photo for my Valentine's canvas, and I liked it so much I put it on a card. Profits from the card go to Essex Greyhound Rescue service.

Gothic Trio
New booklet with the three ex Anticraft patterns

£4 for all patterns

The patterns included in this collection were originally submitted to the Anticraft for inclusion in their book Knitting, Beading & Stitching for the Slightly Sinister.

Sadly the Anticraft book is out of print but I am able to offer these three patterns in this thirteen page booklet; Gothic Trio.

I have updated these patterns with two new charts which were not included in the original book and in addition have had the patterns re-edited by my technical editor to make the patterns even more accessible and in my own style. The errata on the original book have been corrected and are not included in these versions of the patterns.

The patterns are also available as single patterns but obviously downloading the whole booklet is cheaper and saves a total of £3.00

Belladonna Sleeves

£2.00 for a single pattern

Gothic Glam Yule hat

£2.00 for a single pattern

Pop Art Skulls Pillow and MP3 Players Pillow

£3.00 for both pillows pattern

The latest Book...........

I am loving The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. She's one of my favourite authors. Her language is fluent and rich, the spaces she leaves in her description are so emotive too

''I held my arm beneath his shoulders, so that after the injection had taken effect he sank on myhand, and I felt the faltering of his heart against my palm, and then the failing of it''

The book's narrator is a man but never once do I feel that he has a woman's perspective and he makes any sexual references in such a circuitive way that I feel he is true to both his class and his era. He is an antidote to some of the hysterical behaviour in the house in the setting of the supernatural parts and it is his matter of fact descriptions that make the strange happenings even more real. I like the fact he tells the story in its entirety and never once does the story move to another narrator even if he was not present for the parts of the stories he describes. It is true to his voice even when he has to explain the incidents through the eyes of the other characters. Although this is set some time after World War II I love the little references as well of how the war extended beyond Victory and touched a post war Britain in every aspect of their lives from their memories and neuroses to their finances and attitudes towards class. For example, the guilt that Mrs Ayres feels at having owned anything fine or extravagant during the war (talking of donating fur coats to chop up as blankets), even though she has less to live on than young people who now work shifts in factories

Her historical research is so ridiculously thorough and her emphasis on women in history enlightening. I have enjoyed every book she has written, and thoroughly recommend her.

She is connected to a friend of ours (her partner is our friend's sibling), and at our friend's wedding I was just dying to go and gush about what a fan I was, of the writing itself not so much of her as I don't know her, which I suppose is less embarassing....but acutely aware that she was in 'private' mode so never got to a chance to get into conversation with her as it would have been false and inappropriate.

Here is a list of her other books
Fingersmith - is my number one favourite
A 19th century gothic tale, with a sting and a twist you might not be ready for
Affinity - love this
A tale of ghosts and mediums and brilliant background of theosophical societies and women's prisons.

Tipping the Velvet - love this
A saucy and enlightening tale of Sapphic relationships and societies in the early part of the twentieth century, music halls and the early suffragette movement.

The Nightwatch - not my favourite of the five but good nonetheless
A tale of women's roles in wartime Britain and the opportunity it gave for some women to slot into predominantly male occupations.

And her latest one, I would slot that between Fingersmith and Affinity or Tipping the Velvet. The Little Stranger is a supernatural tale but is a brilliant tale of post war Britain, the downfall of the gentry the rise of middle classes and a claustrophobic relationship of two people representing both.

If anybody has read these, do comment. Waters' first book published was one of the reasons I got right back into fiction after a break due to illness. I thought I could not get fired up about reading again and that I had exhausted all the classics but since then there has been a surge of brilliant classic writing on the market.

Some other recently read books I can recommend are
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a fast paced thriller set in Sweden
The 19th Wife, an amusing and informative tale of the birth of the Mormon movement.

It is hard to keep up with the amount I read. I rarelycomplete a bad book. If I don't like something, I give it a chance and then won't complete because there is a wealth of books to choose from. If you want to see what I could recommend, there are 452 books which I have read mainly over the past 10 yrs or so on the website GoodReads.

If you are an avid reader I would recommend this book site because even if you don't want to join in with the social networking it is linked to Amazon and you can queue books for your 'must buy next' shelf, put books you have read on your 'read' shelf and make a list of books 'to read'. The 'must buy' next has been brilliang for Christmas pressies because I just point people in that direction if they know I love to read but have not a clue what to buy. I don't stop buying books in the months leading up to Christmas, I just make sure I leave the 'buy next' list for other people and buy off the 'to read' list instead. Means I am never deprived of something to read and then disappointed if it does not turn up on the Christmas list.

What's next on my list? An old book actually, Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. I didn't read much at the time this came out and so missed it. I have read other Peter Carey stuff and love his style so am looking forward to this. Then after that I have The Girl Who Played with Fire to read whch is a sequel of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Eastenders Live Episode

Normally I can take or leave a soap but I was mesmerised by the last live episode of Eastenders..oooooh it was good wasn't it? The actors go in through the doors of the Queen Vic Pub, then camera cuts away and those poor actors have to get on a buggy and be transported to the studio for the Queen Vic interior.

Bradley manages to seamlessly shin up a drainpipe like 'e woz goin' up apples and pears, edge his way round, scream out from the roof and then fall backwards off the roof....it was a shocker to see it live! Once again, the production was amazing because they edit away, then put a stunt man in....but this is all totally live just like a theatre production.

None of the characters knew 'who dunnit' (killed Archie) until just before going live. There were a possible 10 murderers and they recorded 10 possible endings, for the actors to learn their bits etc and then none of them knew if it was going to be them

It was a good 'un. And I am not sure how they are going to have a pre-recorded episode ready for Monday, if the actors didn't know 'who dunnit' how could they have learned their lines and recorded an episode following the last live one?

Cor blimey guv'na, they is good! 'Appy Burfday 'Stenders!It's 25 yrs old. What was I doing 25 yrs ago? I was working on an arts magazine called EAR for short, or East End Arts Review and I remember inwardly rolling my eyes at a review my colleague had written on the new East End soap (this one of course).....he used the word iconclastic to describe a pint of Churchill's in the Queen Vic pub, so even in a down to earth TV review of a drama based on the common man, he had managed to be a total ponce!
Valentine's Day

I had a bunch of roses, a box of chocs and a beautiful canvas with arty black and white photo of Lily (don't tell Dizzy) to put on the bedroom wall. This is not it, this is the photograph that Steve used to make the canvas which is huge!

He worked for hours on the eye so that the eye is coloured and has depth and it is funny to lie in bed and see Lily's beady eye looking at us. I have tried to take a few pics of the canvas, but the scale of it is just not coming out. I might have to borrow a dog to stand by it.

Also, my Valentine took me out to see Avatar in 3D. It was amazing! I was looking forward to seeing Avatar anyway but had no expectations of the new digital 3D as it required wearing glasses and I already have eye problems. I was expecting it to just give the fuzzy 3 colour outlines of 60's and 70's 3D.
However, I was truly amazed when figures seemed to jump towards me. Avatar is science fiction and based on a ficititious planet Pandora which is green exotic and beautiful and some of the sights really did seem to float in the air before us in front of the screen. I thoroughly recommend giving it a go and seeing something exotic as it really does enhance the film.

Anyway I have not made any new Valentines charts for today, but a year ago I made these charts to be used freely for personal use on knitting, crochet, stitching or tapestry.

Designer Knitting (formerly Vogue Knitting)

Ever since SoHo Publishing changed the name of this mag for our territory, I still keep referring to it as Vogue.....and I think I am not the only one. I usually prefer the cover of the Vogue version too, and wonder if perhaps there are slightly different patterns included...does anyone know?.

Anyway, I got the Winter 2009/2010 today, and actually, it is a little more down to earth than normal. Sometimes I am wowed by sculptural work, but see it as a work of art and might not make it. In this issue, there are quite a number of tunic type sweaters, that I would wear. I picked out my favourite and of course, it is by Jean Moss and it made it to the cover on the Vogue version of the mag which I prefer.

I also liked this cabled tunic, isn't it beautiful...even photographed flat it looks interesting. The designer is Suvi Simola

I quite liked this striped hoodie. Its simple and classic, but a knitted shape that I think a lot of men would actually wear without feeling an idiot. I like this designer's work, his name is Josh Bennet from BoyMeetsPurl

What did I not like?
I wasn't particularly taken with the mittens designs. I didn't hate them, just as a colour designer myself who enjoys a little charting, I think I could have made them slightly more interesting....but anyway, they fitted in with the stories so they are not so bad....just not brilliant. One of the designers has done brilliant colour work before, and I thought this did not represent her best work.
The Inside Loop

The Inside Loop was the British magazine featuring articles and patterns which were free to the readers. In order for them to have decent patterns, they paid fees to designers for their work. This however, had to be recouped by advertising and sadly in this economic climate, it just was not working out for them so the editors decided to close the mag.

I had one design in it which was reasonably popular; Ondine: Sleeves for a Mermaid modelled by Jennifer Gwiazdowski.

The pattern is now available via my Ravelry store and can be downloaded from there free until 31 January 2010. After January I will be selling this pattern for £2.00. I had to do this, because I needed to do more work on the pattern to reformat it and have it checked before putting it up again as it is now on my template rather than The Inside Loop. Nothing has been taken away from the original design but I have made it easier to download with the pattern on just one page and the rest of the details on the cover and back pages.

At the moment, I am beginning to feel that rather than free patterns being appreciated and attracting more business, the whole free thing is devaluing patterns. I spend quite a bit of money on my patterns not just in my labour but the modelling and photography and the testing and technical editing of patterns. I realise, that some patterns are more like personal notes but this is usually a quick process and does not guarantee accuracy. I can see how popular free patterns are by the number of downloads from my store, which is in the many thousands for the free patterns e.g. about 4,000 for a beret pattern that has been there less than a year....if only the ones for sale sold that well too!

However, I honestly don't think that the patterns which go through a professional process are heard above the noise. I will still leave the patterns that are on my store as freebies, free for the moment but if I have to take time out to update or reformat any patterns, then I will be charging for it.

Little Ravens Pattern For Sale

The pattern can now be downloaded via PayPal from here for GBP£3.00


Small (Medium, Large)

Shown here in Small (4 colour versions) and Medium (2 colour version)

To fit head size 53.5 (58, 62) cm, approx 21 (22, 24) inches


Yarns: Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyed 50% Alpaca/50% Merino 91m/100g

Only part of each 100g skein will be used i.e. approx 45 (50, 55) g of each shade

Substitute Yarns: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky, Sirdar Click any Heavy Aran or Light Chunky that knits to the same gauge.

Needles/Hooks: 1 pair of circular needles 5.5mm (or dpns)

1 crochet hook 3.5mm

Little Ravens....again

This is the naturals version. This time I went for a pompon and plaited ties and it cut down on the finishing time needed dramatically. I think that is the reason why so many Peruvian hats do have very thin plaits, far thinner than this, and also small bald pompons. it obviously cuts down on not only yarn costs but labour costs too. However, there is a demand for those cheaper types of hats...just because they are the ones being offered and so it is the choice of the knitter too (or the knitter's own kids, wanting one that does not look obviously home made or better quality...as they don't want to look different!)

The yarn is Sirdar Click chunky and when I first started working with this it felt ok....then it felt awful and looked crinkled but actually, it all seemed to work out in the end in blocking. I thought that although much cheaper, this would be my least favourite version of Little Ravens but now I have test knitted all three, this one is top of the list to wear. It is not a silky yarn and so it is not slipping and sliding but unlike a pure wool, I am not suffering from any allergy reactions.

This is the first time I have relied on some of my own test knits for versions and sizing although I am still having this tested for other accuracies. I normally get other knitters to do the test knitting and that usually greatly delays being able to get a pattern out there. I surprised myself, that once I had worked out the main pattern I could actually produce one of these quite quickly and do the colourwork by memory without the need to consult charts. Sometimes more time can be spent on giving support to test knitters than it can be doing the test yourself. So although I will still go ahead with the test knitting, I can see that after a week of organising the testing nobody has even started it yet so at least this way once tech editing is done, then pattern should be up next week some time.

Little Ravens

This is another version of the Little Ravens hat from the last post.
This time I have used only two shades in extreme contrast with each other. I really like this version but mainly because I love the charcoal smokiness of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky in grey and the cream Ravens. As I did only a little frogging, this version was made in a couple of days and seeing as I am a slow knitter, I reckon someone else could probably do it in less time. Its a perfect snow hat!

It is also the next size up Medium which is why it looks a little baggier on the head form as those heads are quite small and of course, have no hair. Medium is probably the size people will like if they want their crown loose and Small if they want it tight but obviously I will have to point out that getting correct gauge is an absolute must here.

I decided to make this with white ravens but the colours could equally be reversed.Both this version and the four shade version will be included in one pattern.

The pattern is being test knitted and then tech edited this week, so the pattern should be ready by week after next at the latest.

To show…or not to show?

Little Ravens by Erssie Major

Here is my latest project, the four shade version of an earflap hat with simple motifs in colour work. I spent a long time on this, to get the shape I wanted but also the correct style of eaflap. I didn't want just triangles stuck on the side of the head, with a gap just where the back of the ears get cold, so experimented with how deep and how wide I could go and what I could fit onto the earflap itself which is not a lot in a chunky yarn. I am really pleased with the result. It might not look anything special to you but as we are experiencing some very rough weather I can vouch for its usefulness and the size and shape is spot on.

Yes, its a plain and easy crown. I did work colourwork bands right up to the last 8 stitches, and I did include a square design that worked across the top in all segments, but actually...it kept making the hat look really fussy and did not fit at all well with the bottom part of the hat, so after a lot of knitting and reknitting....I just thought, darn it, I just want an earflap hat I can wear now when its snowing so will quickly finish it off. I showed it to non designers, and they didn't get the idea that no pattern right up the crown was a cop out at all....they thought great, its easier to knit but still looks good....so that is the way its staying.

The yarn is Blue Sky Worsted Hand Dyes and in the skein looked quite ordinary but when knitted has a wonderful handpainted effect like faded denim and although wool and alpaca it feels as soft as non mercerised cotton. I had to keep checking the ball bands to see if it really was the fleece I ordered and not the cotton! This yarns crochets like a dream and I used it to crochet a contrast edging around the whole hat and it worked out really neatly around the earflap even though there is an I-cord knitted right down, I managed to find a way of working over the I-cord. No sewing was necessary, even the tassells are tied on.

I am currently working on a two colour version in grey and white, that shows light motifs against a darker background. I also have more elaborate versions with Phoenix motifs, but that is for a totally different hat really.

I also cannot make up my mind if it is good business practice to keep a pattern strictly under wraps until it is released. I always thought so, and have never leaked my own designs really until the pattern is out and on sale. I suppose I imagine that there will be a small flutter of interest for a new design and that those people would have downloaded it had it been available but then later might forget to come back. Later, uploading it as a finished pattern, rather than a WIP in the project pages, means that the flutter of interest has gone.

Some designers don’t pay attention to this at all. Having never worked in the mainstream publishers' world where it is forbidden to leak a design before publication those designers just stick their WIPs up, show pics of it publicly on Ravelry whilst test knitting etc. It doesn’t appear to affect them at all that the design is leaked at the early stages. Neither does it seem to spoil their chances when later they submit it as a finished pattern to a publisher and then retrospectively take photos off their project pages and blogs, with a note saying ‘this design is secret now so have taken it down…..’ They don’t seem to realise that having leaked it already and even mentioning it exists without a photo is supposed to be against a mainstream publisher’s policy.

But I can’t say I have heard of a designer’s work being rejected because it was leaked earlier, it seems that if it is a good design as long as the pattern is not currently leaked and it is not currently up on any blogs the items get published. I also think a lot of the time publishers do not have time to check personal blogs and other places to see if a design they are including is already out there. They are just happy that their design is a good one and being included and it would take a really serious breach of confidence for them to pull it from a publication.

Anyway I was not going to show my latest design. I wanted to get it properly modelled first and decide...do I release pattern myself, or do I submit to a mag. Submitting to a mag might possibly get me around £50 if I am lucky and no more. If I kept it myself and sold it for around £2.50 per pattern....I would need to sell about 20 patterns to get that. But, I have sold more than that of some other simple hat patterns so it could pay off.

So....have decided, never mind here is the finished hat with pattern coming as soon as testing and tech editing are finished. There is a chance to test knit this hat for a fee of $10 payable to one of 5 testers booked. Each tester will get entry into a competition to get enough yarn for one of these hats in addition to their $10 fee. Oh yes, we're currently having IT problems with a slow connection. Cannot wait until Sat when we get the new broadband. This is so slow, I can't even upload pics to Flickr and had to write this post offline, where because of the formatting it won't get properly accepted by Blogger....so apologies for any strange formatting in this post.

First Post of 2010

First of all......who ever would have thought I would live this long eh? I don't mean that any of my conditions are terminal or anything, just that when I was a kid I was asked to write an essay about what life would be like in the year 2000 and I remember making up all sorts of sci fi stuff, and thinking, blimey that is such a long way off....perhaps we won't even be here by then! Especially with all the Cold War nuclear annihalations imagined back then. Anyway I made it to 2010!

Christmas Knitting

I spent Christmas quietly in a cottage with my other half and the dogs and the other half’s Mum.
We kept warm and watched TV and I knitted a couple of things for Kerrie’s new baby Reid.
First of all I made a newborn version of the Pearmain Hat, called Baby Pearmain of course.

Next I panicked and thought, it has taken me a while to get round to this and thought that Reid would probably be too big for a newborn hat, so I made a simple earflap hat to fit a much older baby and called it Reid. Then I ran out of the pale blue Debbie Bliss Rialto yarn so there was not enough for the edging and tassels. So, I used some contrast yarn for the crochet edging and I think it worked quite well. I will put it up as a pattern, possibly free, along with Baby Pearmain.

First Proper Design of 2010

The next piece of knitting I worked on was a hat for an adult, using some of my very simple colour work motifs. I am really struggling with hanging on to it. What I mean is, whenever I make anything that I think is at all commercially viable as a pattern, I usually submit it to a magazine or book and then if it is popular kick myself that I did not add it to my own pattern collection.

A couple of people have remarked, that the best work I do always seems to be for other people rather than myself. And they are right. I think there is a fear that being an unknown pattern writer and designer that if I release something myself, it just gets lost in all the Ravelry noise and so does not get a proper airing or chance to be knitted. It can be frustrating seeing much less worthy designs, or indeed more expensive but less developed patterns raking in the money, and yet quite good ones just getting lost in the backwaters.

Slipper Socks: Lizard and Eagle Moccasin Boots

This is my pattern which is published in Yarn Forward magazine. The motifs are based on animal motifs that traditionally have meaning.

I am currently working on more charts that have a South American, Peruvian or Native American feel using animal motifs interspersed with simple patterns.

I love repeating patterns whether they are pictorial or abstract and knitting is a great way of making up the kind of patterns seen on flloor or wall tiles or rugs and turning them into home furnishings for ourselves.