Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for December, 2010

The Judith Bell-Ruffle Boa – almost there

Friday, December 31st, 2010

For a while I’ve been almost done with this scarf/boa – it’s only down-side is the extravagantly long picot cast-off.  Now I love a picot cast-off as some of you may have noticed.  A good play on Radio 4, cup of tea to hand, and a Zen-like state of cast-on-two-cast-off-three for an hour or so, and I’m happy.  But even I am a little daunted by the sheer staying power of this cast-off. 

However, it is now almost done, maybe three Miss Marples, and I’ll be finished.

Here it is looking very frothy and luminous in a slightly dodgy dark December window:

Judith Ruffle Boa

You can see the central panel, along each side of which I have knitted a series (a very long series) of lace-sided bell shaped ruffles.

The Judith Boa

It has a distinct structure, but also, as it comes off the needles, it is gently twisting round – very pretty.

I have some changes to make to this design.  The central panel – and thus the boa’s construction – needs to be altered.  I want to add some colour-mingling.  I may also make the picot edge optional (i.e. everyone will omit it…)

This version is inspired by and dedicated to my sister-in-law, Judith Lavery, so any day now this one will be on its way to her.  Then I’ll re-knit it, adpoting the changes I have in mind.  And then it will be a kit, here on my website.

I think I’ll offer it in this teal and acid green colourway, plus maybe a grey/black combo…or soft lavender and warm grey…It will take three balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in all and there will be ‘left-overs’ for use in little stash busting designs.

Post-Christmas Knitting Cheer

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

The post-Christmas slump is upon us – the snow has melted, the party’s over (OK, New Year is still ahead but personally I don’t ‘do’ New Year, I go to bed at 10.30, wake up when the apparantly traditional fire works go off at midnight, drift back to sleep – and when I wake up, it’s all over, hurrah).

I dislike January and February so much, I have to develop some coping strategies. Number one: knit as much as I can, even more urgent this year as once the new book is published, this site needs KITS!

Number two: audit the yarn. This is a fun game that can be played by one person, or two if the other person is willing to do the clip board holding/note-taking etc. Number three: allocate the yarn to projects. Ideally, you already do this before you buy the yarn – right? No, nor do I. But if your yarn has reached the heights of fearing it – for example, one knitter I know once said: ‘I’m afraid that if my stash fell on me, I’d die’ – then you need to make some plans for at least some of that yarn.

So here is a pretty image from the new book, out in early 2011 in the US and later in the UK and Europe. The book features lace knits, many easy, the odd one or two a bit harder and it cheered me up to take a peek at some, pre-publication. Photos by the ‘mazing John Heseltine

Lace + corsage = happy

Christmas has arrived – and it’s not cast-off yet

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010


Christmas has arrived.     

It’s official – Christmas has arrived at Court Cottage.  I know this because eleventy-eight knitting projects are currently on the needles, cast-on in that hopeful September month when it all seems possible, the days are still warm, and you imagine how all your friends and families will adore the gorgeous knitted gifts you are going to make for them.     

Now, in the fever of mid-December, with a to-do list taller than my Christmas tree and a mild sense of panic dogging my days, I am currently reviewing the cast-on projects with a view to re-assigning some of them to 2011…     

Because, I have broken my own rule.  One of my rules is that knitting ought to be a stress-busting activity.  A bit of breath-holding, tongue-poking lace aside, if the knitting is stressful, it’s not working.  I am now stressed by the unfinished WIPs.  So, I’m going to cut myself a break and decide that I will finish one, because it’s almost done and the rest will have to wait.  Small shopping spree is therefore indicated to replace these gifts – oh well, every cloud!     

In the meantime, an outbreak of Christmas decorations has assumed epidemic proportions.  I have fairy-tale baubles: 



and I have a huge tree, shamelessly bedecked with every decoration we ever bought/made/were given with no colour-theming or designer-chic whatsoever:      


Mootings Mitts are done

Friday, December 3rd, 2010


Mooting Mittens (plus small bucket of breakfast tea)

Headline:  ‘Unexpected Flurry of Knitting Activity Reported in Somerset’

Yes, the Mooting Mittens (or weird tubey-things) are all done, and I am very happy with them – let’s hope Florence is too. 

The bobbles are my favourite feature.  Knitted in the round on DPNs, these bobbles might make you a bit fed up if you knitted them conventionally , ie, make lots of stitches, turn, knit, turn etc etc.  So, I am happy to say these are no-turn bobbles, easy and once you see it, really obvious.  I found the technique in an amazing book by Sharon Brant – love the whole book but especially this feature.

off the hand - not so lovely. On the hand: fab

I made them longish in the wrist/arm, as Florence has long arms and hands, but they feel great on me, too (no, I’m not going to keep them!  I’ll just knit me another pair, honestly).  They are knitted in Rowan’s Pure Wool 4 Ply in two shades of pink and finished with random Kidsilk Haze bobbles.  Thus, they are of course not machine washable, because although Pure Wool IS super-wash, Kidsilk Haze isn’t.  So hand wash only.  the obvious way to make them more practical is to make the bobbles in Pure Wool 4 Ply too.

 Soon these will appear on this site as a free pattern for you to download.  Look for free patterns in the Blog categories.

Now, I think I’ll knit me a blue pair…

Mooting Mittens

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

My oldest daughter has just started at university.  I’d like to say that I designed and knitted her a snugly jacket or sweater to keep her warm and cosy on those long walks between her flat and the Exeter night life.  A really unique garment, that would also link her, emotionally, with home…. 

 ….and you’re back in the room.  Nah.  Much as I’d like to have done that, one, I doubt she’d wear it.  Two, if she did, and ever washed it herself, there might be a heart breaking knitting-laundry related incident.  Three, in real life (mine anyway), time just whizzes past and I know I’d never get it done, pressed, sewn up and all that malarkey, before she graduates. 

 No, I am an accessories girl.  Fast, fun, wearable and most of all, do-able.  So I am designing and knitting her a pair of mitts.  She loves gloves and mittens, I know she’ll wear them, and I love knitting them.  We both love the pink, so they’re pink, two pinks to be exact. 


 I am currently obsessed with bobbles, by the way.  The knitted sort.  Take a peak at my initial drawing for the mitts and try to overlook the weird tubey-thing I have depicted as the mitt.  It will be fine!  See the many lovely bobbles I have drawn?  I am aware that they look like a bunch of balloons, yes, but thanks anyway.  These bobbles will be knitted at the wrist and finger openings of the mitts.  But the mitts will be knitted in the round (on 4 double pointed needles or if you prefer, one or two circulars).  So we need easy bobbles…and I am working on this right now.  To compensate for any bobbling-anxiety, the mitts will be uber-easy in all other ways:  ribbed, big stripes, and no gusset at the thumb.  Gusset, by the way, is the word of the day.


 Kidsilk Haze bobbles in many colours will be simply lovely.  Apart from the improbable quantity of oddments of Kidsilk Haze in my house/office/workroom/sitting room  that needs to be used up, the many shades will both tone and clash beautifully with the 4 ply woollen yarns I have chosen for the main mitt.

 So anyway, this is as far as I have got with the Mooting Mitts.  Check back soon for an up-date when I confidently predict that some bobbles will have appeared.

a new design…

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010


I’ve been designing a lot of new items for my website to sell as kits. I never seem to have any trouble thinking of new designs – the main problem is in getting them out of my head, onto a piece of paper, onto the needles … and casting them off!

This design is called the Judith Ruffle Scarf and is inspired by, and dedicated to, my sister-in-law, Judith Lavery. It’s a long ruffle-boa, and the concept is that I am knitting a length of bell-shaped inserts or gaudes with a simpe lace detail, all in the lovely teal shade ‘Trance’, then edging it in a zingy lime green – ‘Jelly’ – for a foamy picot cast-off. Then (and this is where I am up to) I am knitting a plain section in garter stitch and this forms the centre section of the piece. The other ruffle will be knitted into the cast-off edge of the centre section and worked exactly as the first ruffle section. But…I might reverse the colourway…I’m not sure.

However, I am sure that the concept will work and I’m confident that I, at least, will like it.

This one will go to Judith, so I’ll have to kniit another one (or two, to play with the colour options). Like its muse, this scarf will be warm, pretty, unexpected and timeless…available in kit form from February 2011.

Snow Inspiration

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

a basket of snow-dusted allium heaads

Like most designers, I take my inspiration partly from nature – how I’d love to be able to knit something as beautiful, wintery and ethereal as this image of a basket of allium seed heads in my snowy garden, collected in the summer and now all frosted.  And what a great value plant it is:  first the slowly developing flower buds, then the frankly very show-off-ski flowers and finally the skeletal seed heads.