Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for January, 2013

Moebius Workshops

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

I do feel that getting emails which say things like:

‘Dear Ali

I don’t want to go to work today because I need to stay at home and work on my Moebius.  Please may I have a sick note?’


‘Dear Ali

I am now at home, PJs on, feet up, ready to continue Moebiusing until the early hours of tomorrow.’

are the reward I get for passing on Moebiusitis.  You’re welcome!

The workshop, which was the first group-teach for Moebius knitting, went really well.  In fact I would go so far as to say it was my favourite workshop here at Court Cottage. I think this is because it’s a single technique workshop, albeit a single technique that breaks down into several components for the purposes of teaching.  It’s also a subject that delivers almost instant results, because as soon as the cast-on is mastered (this takes a few minutes really and about 4 goes to reinforce the muscle-memory in your hands), the following rounds very quickly lead to a Eureka! moment as the way a true Moebius evolves just becomes clear and its mystery is fully appreciated.

Anyway, there is another Moebius workshop here in April which is fully booked.  I am also teaching it in Modbury, Devon at Hulu Crafts on Thursday 21 March and in Swansea, South Wales (venue and link to follow) on Saturday 8 June.

If however, what you really want is to come here for an event on Moebius knitting*, contact me and if there are enough people (6 or 7) Millington and I will arrange a further day, probably in the summer.

*Warning:  Moebius knitting is highly addictive and can lead to obsessive Moebiusing and in advanced cases, Moebiusitis.  I am not in the least bit sorry about that, in fact I am hoping to unleash a lot of Moebiuses on the world in 2013.  The collective noun for a group of Moebiuses is a chant of Moebiuses.

(It’s not, I made that up – but it should be).


Mission Moebius

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

As Moebius Day approaches, I wish to share with you some of the *many* Moebiuses that I (and in one case, someone else) have made.

This beautiful Moebius was knitted by Hannah in Baby Merino Silk DK and Kidsilk Haze

I love the simplicity of the luxury, smooth silk-wool DK edged with the frills of KSH in Steel.

The edging is a close shade-match to the main Moebius

What is very impressive is that this Moebius is only the second project Hannah has knitted since returning to knitting some months ago.  I think the dove-grey simplicity of the work and its soothing neatness of stitch make a really lovely accessory.  Simple though the look may be, it is still a true Moebius, worked with the true half-twist – often that which looks simple is in fact a truly complex structure.

I am very proud of Hannah who expressed an interest in making a Moebius at exactly the time I was looking for victims volunteers to help me practice the teaching for the Moebius workshops I am teaching this year, starting Saturday.

Thanks to Hannah I am confident of similarly lovely outcomes from all my Moebius students.

Here are some of my other designs, similar but not the same.

Pure Wool DK and sunny KSH

A larger, deeper and frillier pink-pud version

And this Moebius in Cocoon and KSH is large enough to be either a shoulder draping circle, a double neck scarf or a shrug that goes all the way around your back



What a lovely write-up – thank you Fiberknitics!

Monday, January 21st, 2013

This is very kind *blushes*

A Free Pattern – a felted pin cushion

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Hopefully these pretty pictures will brighten up your snowy (or just cold) day.

Here is a little free pattern – it’s a felted Turkish pin-cushion.  I made this with left-overs.

It’s a very fast knit and you can make it smaller by just modifying the number of stitches you increase to – the pattern is super-simple, all knitted flat and then seamed up – except for the last seam – before felting it in the washing machine.

If you are using different yarns to those I mention, I suggest you test a swatch of it first at 40 degrees.

So, make your fat pin cushion which is generous enough to accommodate A Lot of pins, stick with some jewel-like pins and either keep it – I’ve had mine for years – or give away as an exotic gift.


Turkish Pin Cushion





A Free Pattern – with a contract

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Hello, here is a very simple and easy free pattern.  It’s a Cotton Glace front, decorated all over in totally random bobbles knitted in Kidsilk Haze.  The back is fabric but you could knit a plain back too.

All you need to do, in order to proceed, is to agree that you will really randomize your yarn choices.

You see, the human brain is, I am told, incapable of truly random selections.  If you are asked, for example, to randomly pick colours for a tiled wall in a kitchen, selecting your colours from a box of small mosaic tiles in many shades, you are almost certainly going to start making choices.  Green and pink beside each other?  No.  Shuffle about in the box – ah!  Blue!  That is better…and so on.

So I would like you, if you decide to knit this, to have your fragments of KSH – and you only need 2 meters for each bobble – into a box or a bowl, out of sight, say, down the side of your chair on the floor, and as you need to make a bobble, reach into the box and just knit with whatever shade you pulled out.  I only allowed myself to pick again if I had just made a bobble in that shade.  The result may not be as I’d have arranged it – but it IS random, and therefore I love it.

Anyway, I trust you – so here’s the pattern: Really Random Puff Cushion Pattern


The Debbie Abrahams Bead Club 2013

Friday, January 11th, 2013

I can only apologise to my regular reader – there has been an awful lot of actuallz knitting content on this blog of late.  I have no idea how this has happened, but rest assured, there will soon be an outpouring of nonsense about cats, recycling, caving*, my random thoughts on the universe and that…

*there won’t be any caving posts, probs; I haven’t caved for weeks and weeks and you know what?  I can’t bear the thought of it in winter.  Crazy, I know.  I know this because some actual real cavers have told me it’s crazy, reason being, it’s the same temp in the caves all the year round.  Yeah?  No sh*t Sherlock?  But you know what else?  The water that comes into the caves from the outside is the same temp as the outside, ie, blinkin’ freezing, AND the lay-bys and car-parks where you have to get (almost) naked to change into/out of your eleventy-hundred items of kit are the same temp as, er, the outdoors, because they are the outdoors.  OK?

So, anyway, yet more knitting stuff today, it’s in real danger of becoming a grown-up knitting blog.

This year I am a guest designer for the Debbie Abrahams Bead Club.  I was thrilled to be asked even though my brief was sooo like hard:  Kidsilk Haze and beads.  *sigh* Oh OK then, if I must…

No, I mean I actually leapt at the chance and designed a long and richly beaded throw, which is lacy and has a cute little kick-ruffle at each end.  I am Miss June.  This is the closest I am ever going to come to being in a calender so I’m going to call myself Miss June all year.

You can see all the designs – and the designers include Debbie Abrahams, Jane Crowfoot, Sarah Hazell and Sarah Hatton! – and join the club here.  If you join you get all the beads and the exclusive designs.  I think this is an ideal ‘present to yourself or a friend to make January 2013 less horrid’ treat.

Anyway, here are some shots of Miss June:

Each end of the throw is finished with a kick-flared, beaded ruffle - cos you know, more beads seemed to be needed...

The lace is quite simple, with many beads to add reassuring weight

The texture of the lace and beads gives a starry canopy

The other designs are seriously beautiful – go along and spoil yourself.



Four More New Designs

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

I am adding a few designs along the way at the moment.  Today, I have added Little Neath Shrug, The Double Pots Mittens, Gleam Beaded Throw (ex-Little Luxury Knits but now my copyright again) and the Knitted Christmas – a vast collection of delicate decorations.  They are all now available to buy as single patterns.

Here they are, I hope you like them.

Kidsilk Haze and Fine Lace together, beads in clusters, combine in a tucked-fabric for the sleeves

One of the Little Neath shrugs I knitted is in soft dove grey and mauve with smoky beads

One version of Little Neath features a lacy rib at the upper-arm and back; the sleeves are gently puffed

Here is the soft puckered texture of the Little Neath sleeves

Gleam is simplicity itself - the ethereal beauty of luxury yarn and a generous canopy of beads

Easy, economical, pretty and totally unique: The Double Pots Mitts are great to knit and to wear


Dear Winter, just FYI, this is what we were looking for…

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Come on Winter 2013, this simply isn’t good enough.  Warm, wet, dark, grey… this is what I look for in a sweater (except for the wet part, obvs), NOT in my winter season.  I’m more sad than angry.  You’ve let me down, but worse than that, you’ve let yourself down.

I am pleased that today you are colder and also sunny.  Good effort.  However, it’s been very disappointing since the beautiful frosts we had in mid- December.  Fortunately I took some pictures of that in my garden and here, just for your reference, is what we’d like to see a bit more of now, OK?

Thanks.  We’ll re-group in a fortnight to go over your objectives again and see if we can make some progress.  I’ve staked a lot on you, I believe in you – just don’t let me down, alright?


Bleak and beautiful: hard frost on the button seed heads of the Wind Flowers

The first buds and petals of the flowering winter cherry, with frosty decoration and a perfect blue sky

Frost on the emerging catkins of a silver birch

Frost on the rim of the chimney pot, white cyclamen in the background


Deeply frosted leaf-litter

Frost on the old tree-seat and on the bare magnolia

So much frost on the top of this rosy hip

Fennel seed head, seeds long since taken by the birds and by me; frosty cobwebs spun around

Frosted berries and deep frosted branches

The frosty front path

Carol’s Christmas Knitting

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Carol came on a course with me at Hulu Crafts in Devon before Christmas and LOOK at what she made!

Choosing one of my new favourite shades in KSH, ‘Steel’, Carol has knitted some of the many Christmas decorations I teach at my ‘Knitted Christmas’ classes; plus a pair of mitts ‘The Double Pot Mitts’ which I designed to give to my pre-Christmas classes as a gift.  These are knitted in Rowan Pure Wool 4 Ply (I think Carol has gone with ‘Shale’) and embellished with sweet and slightly bonkers KSH ruffles.

Both the Christmas Collection of patterns, and the Double Pot Mittens are available as PDF downloads on my site now.



Pattern Downloads

Monday, January 7th, 2013

All my former kit patterns are now available as single PDFs.  These are priced at £4 each.  I will email the PDF to you.

I will still very happily make you up a kit for any of these if you wish to have a kit or want give one as a gift – just email me if you do and I will sort out your options.

However, I think (based partly on many email requests and largely on my personal preference) that most knitters like to have the option just to buy the single designs, sans yarns – we *may* have the yarns in stash, after all…

I don’t want to clutter up the site with ‘buy a kit’ and also ‘buy a pattern’ options so I have decided to just go for the pattern option on line.

Whilst doing this work on the site I have also added some new designs – marked as *new* on the menu.

I hope you approve of the changes and the new patterns.  There are 4 or 5 other new designs to go on this month.  Putting up kits has been something I have ‘lagged’ with – because of the additional faffage with colours etc.  You see, I have A Lot of shades here but realistically for a kit, I can only offer 2 options on line.  I think this way will be much better and encourage me to put my back-log of designs up with more alacrity!

The sleeve of the new 'Singing River' shrug


Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

In 2013 I resolve to be more organised and yet at the same time, more relaxed.

I know from experience that little stresses me more than pressing deadlines.  To avoid this, I try to prepare for everything I do – events, teaching, shows, commissions, free-lance (non knitting) projects and the work I do in our family business – well ahead.  The  trouble is, sometimes there is so much of it – and it often comes in clumps – that the preparation feels highly pressured.

There are ways round this though and as a result of following some of these strategies, 2012 was a bit less frayed round the edges, especially in autumn and winter, which is always a real pinch-point, than 2011.  2011 was a bad one because it was the year following my release from ‘normal’ employment into the wild of self-employment and as a result I packed it with stuff – because I could and also because I was afraid of not having work, to be honest.

Nevertheless, preparation still preoccupies me.  I think I probably over-prep, but that’s my nature.  I am not satisfied that a sample pattern, for example, is fine and this is indicated by the fact that I have designed it, re-knitted it, written it up and re-knitted it again;  sent the pattern to someone, such as Millington – and so on.  No, I have to knit it again.


One, it’s my nature, thanks Dad.  My Dad, the man who did ‘dry run’ drives to places the week or day before he had to make the real journey if it was a new route.  From Dad I have inherited this trait of over-anxious preparation.

Two, I make mistakes.  OK we all do that, but I make simple typing mistakes.  I can only describe this as a sort of weird mixing of letters and sometimes numbers.  It’s not a jumble or a muddle in my head.  I sometimes think – maybe I mean visualise –  letters and numbers in the wrong order.  Not all of them, but enough to be a problem; they slyly change places, sometimes just 2 letters or numbers, sometimes several – they slide past each other like a drop and drag manoeuvre.  But 90 times out of 100, my fingers re-order them en-route from my brain, down my arms and into my hands. My hands know what they are doing but it’s hard for my hands because not only do they have to do the things that hands do, they also have to sort out the kinks in the data they have received from my brain.  Poor hands.  But at the same time, good work, hands.  High five yourselves.  Try that, by the way, it’s fun – it’s kind of a dynamic clap. Go on. Go on! See?

I think is why I get so anxious, in case a drop and drag head incident has slipped into a pattern.

My strategies will not include disabling the part of my brain that does this stuff because I don’t think I can.  If I slow myself down, it helps.  But you know, that’s not an actual solution.  Maybe your brain does this stuff too?  I hope I am not alone.  Please tell me if it does, even, maybe, make it up a bit, yeah, just to make me feel better…?

(By the way, one day, when we know each other better and I don’t fear you thinking:  weirdo;  and walking off – virtually walking off, not actually walking off, obvs, ‘cos this is a blog, not a marriage, but anyway.  One day, remind me to tell you about how my brain sees stuff like:  a week of days;  a year of months;  a lifetime of years;  strings of numbers;  maps;  food and many other things like household objects…it’s FUN!*)

* it’s not.

(Another time, again when we’re really established as Blogger and Blogee – that’s you – I may tell you about how I once got lost in London right beside the place I had worked for maybe 8 or 9 years.  It was all to do with coming out of a rabbit hole, AKA an underground station facing the wrong way).

My strategies for less stress in 2013 will be:

One:  do less.  This is the key and it goes right back to the root of many problems:  saying no.  But I am in charge of my diary (mainly) now, not some grey-faced, dyspeptic, bullet-point obsessed freak – ahem, sorry.  Yes, I am in charge.  And as such I will continue to edit my timetable into 2013 so that I have fewer commitments.

Two:  bring all the prep forward, aided by implementing one, above.

Three:  sleep more.

In other resolutions, I want to design garments and also knit garments for myself from other designers’ collections.

I want to knit a lot of Fairisle. (Not you, inside-out Fairisle that’s all over the High Street, bleugh).

And I plan to knit more Aran and DK weight qualities.

I might even branch out of my aqua/mauve/grey spectrum and knit in bright, clear colours.  Oooh get me.

Oh, and I want to start swimming and  ballet lessons.  Not together but thanks for the advice, I don’t want a soggy tu-tu.

Anyway, here’s to 2013, and to you, dear reader, whoever you are XX