Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for the ‘Design Room’ Category

Winter Trees Fairisle Throw Pattern – now available

Friday, November 9th, 2018

This is new!  Here is the link!

2019 Workshops are now LIVE!

Monday, September 24th, 2018

2019 is now live on the site.  You can find them all here!

There are icord designs, Happy Endings, new felting, gifts and the return of Christmas at Court Cottage.

Each day explores new techniques and applies them to projects specially designed for you.

I would love to see you here!

 

 

How To Videos: stretchy cast on for socks

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

I am planning to make a few short videos of some of the techniques I teach and release them after workshops.  Here is the first one:  a stretchy cast-on for top-down socks.  This can also be used for the brim of a hat, the cuff of a mitten or anywhere that needs a good stretch that won’t go baggy.  Here it is.

Top down plain sock cast on

 

 

Moons and Stars

Monday, February 26th, 2018

Moons and Stars 1

I thought you might like to see the final images of the designs for the Moons and Stars events which are new for 2018.

Here is the lap-blanket:

And here is the Cowl:

The blanket is steeked.  Both are knitted in the round and we also knit Fairisle with beads.

There is one space (a cancellation) for 22 March. The other dates are fully booked but we may repeat it in the autumn as there is a waiting list now.

This is not the design for our Shetland Fairisle adventure in July – but like Bees and Sulis, it is typical of my approach to Fairisle design – modern, a bit different, not difficult, simple colours and clean images – but knitted 100% traditionally. Do come to Shetland!  I can promise you it will be amazing.

 

The Shetland Adventure – and some Fairisle Nerd Stuff

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Here’s a nice write up by Muddy Stilettos about the tour I am heading up this summer.

The designs for this are at the prototype phase – in my head and my note book.  I know I am going to design a throw that can be steeked – indeed, it must be steeked or remain a tube for ever.   I think this will possibly have a miniaturised version – a tubular scarf.  This is dependent on the design for the Fairisle chart.

For example, this design would be perfect for throws, scarves or cowls:

But this one (still a WIP), not so much for scarves, though it would be very possible with an off-set addition, as it is motif based:

None of the above will be the new Shetland designs, but as an added bonus, you can choose any of my other Fairisle designs as a gift-pattern, including my all-time favourite (so far) the Bee Designs:

One of the many things we will be teaching on this tour is the importance of the top or dominant yarn when knitting Fairisle.  Because we will also be teaching you how to carry yarns in both hands, you will be able then to choose which yarn – say A or B, or the background and the motif shades – you prefer to ‘dominate’ the pattern you are creating.  I think this is fascinating stuff, but then I am HRH, The Queen of Nerd, as you will find to your delight on Shetland.  You see, if you carry A in your right hand and B in your left, and A is your motif, it will sort of stand out more.  This is more of an issue if you are knitting with closely matched shades.  This difference in appearance is about how the wrong side stranding lies.  All will be revealed on Shetland.

There will also be another version of the same basic design that will not be steeked and the problem is I keep changing my mind about whether this will be a hat – possibly a tam; or mitts; or a cowl.  Nice dilemma though.  I do want one to be fairly small so it might be finished while we are away!

But the main thing I want is to pass on my absolute passion for this style of knitting.  I know my Fairisle is not super traditional, but that’s why I love it so much – this ancient knitting craft is so adaptable to both traditional and modern designs.  I am sure you will love it too. And if you already do, you will love it more.

The flight info for this tour has now been added to the ECT Travel website.  I would really love to share this adventure with you!

 

Traditional Fair Isle – Modern Design: Your Shetland Knitting Adventure. 27 – 31 July 2018

Monday, December 11th, 2017

In July, I have been asked to lead a Fairisle knitting holiday in Shetland.  To say I am excited is an understatement.  In the same way that saying I quite like knitting is an understatement.

Lerwick

This is the full immersion Fairisle experience.  No distractions.  No ‘work’.  Nothing to do except knit, learn, explore the island and its rich history, relax and have fun.  Here!

The company that is hosting the event is ECT Travel in Bath, and we came across each other during my early preparations for Knit Camp 2017. That was ages ago and the idea they floated of collaborating seemed miles away, but after Knit Camp we go together and so we have drawn up a knitting holiday based in Lerwick.  You can  see the full itinerary and details here.

It will be from 27 – 31 July 2018.  We will have a whole FIVE DAYS together!  And if that is a bit alarming, do not be afraid, because I have of course asked Kathryn to join me so we will be teaching together and generally having such a lot of fun with you all.

Shetland Textile Museum

There is teaching, of course there is teaching, this is me, but it is not a Boot Camp experience (as some of you have been known to murmur when you thought I could not hear).  No, there are trips and visits every day; trips out together – and dinners with the high possibility of knitting at almost all times.

 

I love Fairisle knitting more than any other knitting.  And I love knitting it in a traditional way, usually in the round, sometimes I steek it, I always adhere to the 2-colours-only-in-a-row guideline (rule), and I do sometimes include traditional motifs.  But more often I add my own modern twists with non-traditional motifs, use of beads and even yarns such as Kidsilk Haze.

On this Shetland adventure, I will be showing you and teaching two brand new designs, designed especially for ECT Travel. I will draw upon the magic of the islands, but I will definitely be introducing some modern twists.

Jamieson and Smith

The teaching will focus on:

  • How to knit perfect Fairisle, in the round.
  • Charts – reading, and knitting from, charts.
  • Stranding and tension:  getting this right is the key to perfect Fairisle. I can help you.
  • How to knit with the yarns in two hands – if you want to try this.  And trust me, it is the easiest and fastest way.
  • How to never, ever, get in a muddle with the balls of yarn.
  • How to prepare for, and cut a steek; then how to finish the steek.  This is optional.
  • How to incorporate your own design ideas into your Fairisle knitting if you want to.  This is entirely optional, but we can draw upon the inspiration around us and help you to get your ideas onto paper and the needles.

I will be on hand at all times* to help and encourage you!

Everyone who comes with us will have a choice of my other Fairisle patterns as a gift, but I will be focusing on the new designs – one larger (a throw) that will be steeked, but there will also be a design that does not need to be steeked.  So if steeking is not your thing, you do not have to. But…isn’t this the perfect time to learn it, with us there to hold your hand every step of the way? (Obvs I won’t actually hold your hand or neither of us will be able to get any knitting done.  Just a metaphor). You will have both patterns for the new designs too.

I will be emailing the group at regular intervals with news, images and up-dates on Project Shetland.  ECT have an amazing reputation for really exciting innovative hosted holiday adventures so we will all be in very safe hands.  We even get a Tour Manager!  Kath came over all rock ‘n roll when she heard this, but I have talked her out of the leather trouser plus bandanna combo…

One thing we do need.  YOU!  Please come with us.  I can promise you the best time.

*I will not be with you at all times, never fear.  Just most of the time. Nor do I stay up beyond 10.00 pm so there will be respite.

View and book here. 

 

 

 

Christmas Workshops 2017: images

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Crocheted Heart Wreath with Lights, Mini Jumpers, ‘Frozen Hearts’ Picture Frames, Icicle

Heart Wreath 1

christmas 2017 icicle in bauble

christmas 2017 hearts 2

christmas 2017 montage

christmas 2017 3 jumpers

 

 

Knitting Code

Friday, August 18th, 2017

 

Recently I have been writing and editing a lot of knitting patterns.  I am always doing this anyway but this year there is Knit Camp and also we have had the busiest year of teaching ever, and because I over-cater, there are usually 2 – 4 patterns for each new event.  So this year I have so far designed 18 new things not counting Christmas which I have not started yet.  This is paltry stuff compared to the output of a Proper Designer with a Proper Yarn House – but I do not have the software to generate patterns and if I did, I would not use it.

Anyway, Dr Donna is pattern checking my Knit Camp designs and we are almost done with them.  However, there is one pattern that has a lot of ‘tech’ content and so we’ve been very focused on that.  *I write the pattern.  Kath and I and sometimes someone else knits the pattern.  We find the bugs, I re-write the pattern, rep from * to about 2 months later…then they go to Donna.  Donna edits them with pink notes.  She corrects my errors, she checks all the data, she re-measures and re-states tension, and she suggests style/wording edits to make it more accessible to the knitter.   As with many things, there are often several ways to express the same line of a pattern.  They all add up to the same outcome, assuming the maths is right.  So for example, you may get a line expressed with the use of * to end, or * to *; or it can be written in full; or you can have ( ) with a number after to give you the number of repeats.

Add to this our shorthand.  Tbl, k2tog, psso, skpsso, sl1, k1, psso, tog, M1, B1, rep, cont, RS, inc(s) C6B, TL, MB  and so on, with the punctuation and * and ( ) etc that goes with it.  As a new knitter (stretches hands back through the mists of time) I used to ask Old Knitters: why, oh wise one, do we have all this CODE?  why can they not be written in English?  And the wise one would say:  just look it up and shut up.  Fair enough.

This week Kath and I have been wrangling a Knit Camp pattern.  So there is Donna’s pink edit, then my blue edit with highlights and insertions to query points, plus hand-written calculations and notes in the margins.

Code

This sheaf of documents was on the table when Mark came in, bearing tea.  He looked at the notes.  He doesn’t touch them because he knows that there be dragons in these pages but he went as far as putting on his glasses and peering. And he said:

Mark:  Knitters would have made incredible code makers – or code breakers, like at Bletchley Park.

Me:  They would.

Mark (looking in some bewilderment at the many hues of type, the squiggles and the abbreviations):  I mean, this looks like a code.

Me:  Well, it is sort of.  There are lots of words in there but it is a stream of code that will equal a shawl, for example, when put into practice.

Mark:  I imagine the CIA would think it was dodgy…

Me:  Ummm…(think but do not say:  I bet lots of the CIA operatives are awesome knitters!)

Mark (warming to his theme):  They would assume it was a code within a code!  Cleverly hidden coding concealed in a knitting pattern!

Me:

Mark:  A plan to invade somewhere!

Me:

Mark:  A knitting army!

Me (putting down pen and rubbing eyes):  Where would we invade?

Mark:  Oh, I don’t know (desperate but brief mental search follows) – say, Japan!

Me:  Japan?

Mark:  OK not Japan.  Israel!

Me:  Surely, Sherlock, we’d be more likely to invade a country with a known excellence for goats, lamas and alpacas?

Mark:  Why?

Me:  Well, the knitting army would need supplies of fine fibres.  What is the point of knitters invading a fibre desert?

Mark: Ah. OK.  Peru…?

Me:  Peru is a peaceful land (I think).  So ‘invade’ is not really the right word.  Maybe ‘visit’ would be better.  ‘Visit’ and ‘go shopping’.

Mark (pointing at a long string of pink, blue and black ‘writing’ on a page):  Does this say:  the invasion is on tonight!  Prepare and meet at dawn!’

Me (reaching for the pattern):  Yes.  Impressive skills.

Mark:  What does it say?

Me (after short struggle with wish to make up some sorcery):  It says – and I am just going to copy and paste this now for you, dear reader as it will be quicker for us both:  Row 32 (WS): With B, P1, yrn, *p2, (B1, p1) to last st before next M, p1, SM, rep from * once more, p2, (B1, p1) to last 2 sts, p1, yrn, p1. (105 sts)

Mark:

Me (sensing his disappointment):  OR, in other words:  we strike at dawn! Operation Thumb Gusset is GO GO GO!

This satisfies him and he leaves.

Knitters would never form an army but if they did ‘organise’ it’d be for peace. It is sad that knitters do not run the world. Peace.

Fairisle Cowl

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

I am currently working on the final details of the design for the Fairisle Cowl event in a few weeks time.  The concept for this is a little bit different, in that the cowl will be lined with a mirror-image of the Fairisle pattern on the outside.  Here is an image of the cowl in its first colourway:

FI Cowl grey and cream

The main area is closely patterned and is in fact a fast and easily memorised knit.  It gives a warm feel of tweed fabric and I love it.  So the workshop will revolve around knitting this – it is quite small, and then the technical challenge of knitting a mirror-image lining – but basically it is knitted in one piece and is not at all difficult.

An option at the event will be to knit it in Kidsilk Haze, colourwashed. Again this will be lined with a reversed lining, or with a silk-wool lining so that people who like Kidsilk Haze but who cannot wear it next to their skin can also make and wear this.

There is just one place left on this event – here are the details.

 

 

 

 

New Kidsilk Haze Cuffs Workshop Next Week!

Friday, February 17th, 2017

New Cuffs 3

Next Thursday, 23 February, I am teaching at Spin-a-Yarn in Devon and I am unveiling New Cuffs (name pending).  This is a fairly easy knit, with beads and optional sequins.  The cuffs are knit flat and then seamed.  They have some interesting stages beginning with a picot cast-on and a lace section before some easy beading and ribbing.  Nothing very taxing, but not boring either.  Also, they are a great way to perhaps learn to get to grips with Kidsilk Haze.  Cuffs are warming, pretty and make great gift-knits too.

New Cuffs 1

They are also colour-washed (again, optional) so great for using up some Kidsilk Haze in stash – or buying two yummy new shades, of course!

New Cuffs 2

I know there are a couple of places left, so contact the shop to book.  It would be lovely to see you there.

 

Brioche Knitting

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

This is beautiful Brioche, knitted flat, using Cocoon and Kidsilk Haze:

Brioche finished montage in brown and teal

I am teaching Brioche in 2017, a class on flat Brioche and a class on Brioche in the round.

The flat Brioche is very soothing knitting, with a fairly straightforward 4-row sequence.  This lends itself to scarves and throws and that is what I have designed.  Here are some images of the designs so far:

There are three courses on this flat Brioche and two are fully booked but there are spaces (two) on the event on 23 April, so why not come along?  I have made the stitch fairly simple and more ‘English’ I think and I am really enjoying the preparation. One interesting approach is to vary the yarns in use so I have been experimenting with Kidsilk Haze and Cocoon, as well as using yarns of the same weight.  It works beautifully.

Peep Into The Design Room…

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Here is a peep at some of the goodies we have been designing and knitting for your workshops in 2017.

Two Colour Brioche – knitted flat

We have Introduction to Two Colour Brioche in March, April and May.  The April date is the only one with spaces – there are two.  This course is all about getting to grips with this pleasing stitch – but hopefully I have Anglicised and simplified it a little.  This is not to say that it is difficult, but it is rather unusual.  I have sifted through several of the eleventy-nine variations on this theme and come up with the one I will teach you. So this course will walk you through knitting Brioche in one colour, and then we will move on to two colours.  I have ‘designed’ two scarves/throws – I say ‘designed’ but really, it is just a matter of deciding what yarns you want to use and then how wide/long you want it.  So it’s a stretch to call it designing. However, I have done the experimenting so you don’t have to.  One of the things I like best about Brioche is the opportunity to experiment a little, which we have been doing by blending yarns of differing weights.  You can view the course and book the remaining two places here.

Here are some examples of the way Brioche looks.  This is the warm brown and teal Kidsilk Haze pattern.

brioche-flat-teal-brown-montage

I do love it.  Often – and I especially need to remember this – less is more.  With Brioche, once you have mastered the rhythm of the stitch (and it is only slipping, knitting and purling, basically), I think it is fine to just let the Brioche, with its neat edges and reversible shadow-effect rib, do all the work.

And this is a neat grey and cream Aran:

brioche-flat-grey-cream-montage-2

Scarves and throws, by the way, will never go out of fashion and I for one am glad that they are there, constant and faithful in a frankly alarming world.  Long live the scarf – and Brioche extends its reign.

Kidsilk Haze Extravaganza

There is just one place left on this event.  One date is full, but there is a space on 1 April.

I do love Kidsilk Haze.  Oh!  Wait – did you not know?  OK – well I am the Kidsilk Haze Queen.  Self-appointed, granted and ruler only of my own stash – which is impressive.  I have written two books devoted to it and even the books I have published that are not all about Kidsilk Haze have some of the cocaine of the yarn world smuggled in.  Yes, even felted.  Anyway, this year I am returning to my roots in many ways.  And one of these ways is The Kidsilk Haze Extravaganza events.

At this workshop, I will offer you a choice of three designs.  Two are brand new.  One is a pair of almost entirely decorative beaded cuffs – fairly easy, knitted flat.  Next is a new design adapted from Rise in Elements:

rise-montage

But this Rise is knitted in the round, and features Kidsilk Haze plus a DK wool. This design is probably the most challenging.  Finally, Gathering Scarf from my second (now out of print) book, Little Luxury Knits.  This takes only one ball of Kidsilk Haze, is lightly beaded, and is an unusual but fairly easy lace knit:

gathering-new

And then…we have also worked this same design in a silk-wool DK blend, wider and longer, and behold, it is a thing of great beauty:

gathering-in-dk-1

I have done this so that even if you are for some sad reason, possibly medical, unable to wear or knit Kidsilk Haze, you can still do the course!  Rise can also be knitted with a substitute for the Kidsilk Haze. Please apply to the management in writing for more details.

Anyway as I say, just one place is left, so do come.

I will reveal more glimpses through the crack in the design room door shortly for the Brioche in the Round, and Fairisle Courses.

2017 Courses – Now Live

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

The courses are up and it’s the biggest year ever!  Here they are – do come!

We have Fairisle and Brioche, cables and beads, steeking and gifts – and of course, Christmas.

It really won’t be the same without you, so please take a look and Kathryn and I hope to see you here in 2017.

Here is the link.

Free Pattern: Meet James

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Here is a free pattern!  Simple, stylish, fast and economical.  The hat is knitted in the round, and uses aran-weight yarn.  It is a pattern for a mans hat but I have added notes for a woman’s hat and also on making further changes.

I hope you enjoy it.

james-twisted-rib-four-quartered-hat

New Moebius Course, 18 February 2017

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Hello there!  Here is a new course, in February 2017 (a repeat of November 2016).  NEW Moebiuses.  I have designed two new ones and I can also take bookings from those new to Moebius knitting as we can teach two groups between us – beginners learn all the stuff and make a very pretty cowl, while those who have done it before have a refresh and knit one of the new designs.

Moebiuses are the coolest thing you will ever knit and they are absolutely lovely to wear.  You won’t regret it.

There are three places available, which you can book here.

 

 

‘Ice Boa’ from Elements

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

I wanted to show you this:

janes-ice-boa-2

It is Ice Boa from Elements.  Jane, who has knitted two of these now, edged the cast-on side with velvet fabric/ribbon which I think is really lovely and would also have the added bonus of making sure the boa never gets any longer!  I think I will *borrow* that idea.

By the way, I have knitted this is in chunky yarn other than Rowan Cocoon; I love it in luxury Juniper Moon Farms silk/wool chunky but any chunky wool will knit to tension.  Another thing:  you can knit this in DK or Aran weight wool and use the appropriate needle.  Then, I add a few repeats to make it long enough.  It is a very fast knit and need not be at all expensive.  Great gift, really. When making one in DK, I would also add a few row repeats to give it enough depth.  The Boa is knitted flat, on one long fixed cable needle.  It does end up with *a lot* of stitches, but on the other hand it is only a few rows deep. Highly memorable pattern too after the first two or three repeats.

You can buy Elements here.

janes-ice-boa-1

 

 

The Final Project Line-Up for Gift Knits

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

This September sees the launch of the Court Cottage Festive Gift Knits events.  I have designed variations on three themes which all use 1 – 3 balls of yarn (DK or Aran, depending on the pattern) and each will take an average paced knitted, which would include me, about one to four evenings of TV knitting to complete.  The child-size hat is a one evening project; the ladies DK mitts take about four evenings for me to make a pair.

So they are economical in time and money.

It is easy to design things that are both economical and quite fast, but they can tend to be rather dull knitting.  Stocking stitch gets rather a lot of the lime-light, often.  But if you are minded to make several of these things for gift-giving, it becomes awfully tedious to keep grinding out the knitting. So, it also has to be a compromise.  Interesting, but not really hard, because if it is very complex it will be slow and difficult to memorise or watch in front of Orange Is The New Black.

I reckon these gift ideas are just the right side of easy, and also not dull.  Not a lot of stocking stitch either.  Quite often, I have placed the ‘fun’ bits at the start or the end.  For example, the ladies DK mitts start with a really simple but ingenious scallop cuff, which is also beaded.  After this, you whizz along in a lovely rib, and no more beads appear, but we have had our glitter ‘fix’.

Knitting with beads, while easy, does slow it down a tad so these open the show and then bow out.  The hats all have a simple swirling crown which I love knitting because it is so easy, fast and pretty!

I do hope there is something for everyone here.  These three days are full but I would be very happy to repeat it in the New Year.  I do have a small waiting list and if you fancy it, let me know.  It’s never too soon to start the gift-knits, is it?

Blanket Progress

Monday, August 1st, 2016

The original Hive Blanket (like that name?  Not too medical – ‘oooh – come and look at my hives, Matron!’…?) is done.  A second version is now being knitted by Kath as I need it testing and also, new colourway, and also, it’s a bit bigger so folks get to choose from the original which is still generous lap sized or a slightly bigger version.

Here it is:

This takes as much yarn as a jumper.  Maybe a Manly jumper.  So it is unusual for me with my childish need for instant gratification and short attention span. However, knitting this was a joy.  I loved it all.  OK, not the border which is massive but mitred so a) you can do it all in one go in the round, and b) it is a *bit* interesting in the corners on every alt round.  Small things people!  I listened to half of the Mitford Girls while knitting the border alone!

Anyway, I now have a dilemma.  This is knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed which though not a pure wool, is sticky enough for successful steeking and I do love Felted Tweed…but I think it is time for me to extend my knitting radar range away from Rowan.  I say this for a number of reasons.  I do love Rowan and I always will.  But times change.  So I am now swatching with DK from Jameison’s of Shetland and I love it more.  If this also behaves as a felting yarn which I am sure it will, it is just a case of at what temp, I think I may switch to this in future for steeking, Fairisle and felting.  I will keep you posted.

This knit has been a long journey starting with many swatches and design changes along the way.  For example, I realised as I completed the first full pattern repeat that I wanted the blanket to have no up or down side so even at that stage I was flipping my charts.  I am so glad I did.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this from the outset, maybe it is because I have rarely designed pictoral items?

If you are coming on steeking with me in October this is one option.  The other option is a cushion, also steeked and using this charting but obviously much smaller as a project.  If you are not but would like to be, or are on my event waiting list I am going to repeat this event in 2016, probably in February.  Let me know if you want to get advance notice. If you are on the list don’t worry I have you covered.

If like 90% of knitters, you *think* you may like steeking but are unsure if it’s for you, or if you can even do it, this is for you:

  • Once, me too!
  • If I can do it, you can do it.
  • I teach by easy, repetitious and staged sections.  It is not at all hard.  It is, at worst, fiddly.  We will go over the steps many times.  Muscle memory and confidence are built on these foundations.
  • It is normal to feel a bit anxious about cutting into your knitting. I did.  But knitting Fairisle in the round is an absolute joy and you do get much faster and far more *perfect* results.  And I will teach you to really secure your steek so it is stable.  It is secured in THREE ways:  1) surface crochet; 2) picked up stitches further reinforce the steek because they form a line of what is basically running stitch; and 3) the steek is then enfolded into a border, and I will show you two ways to do this.
  • Once you have learned it, you feel absolutely awesome!

Awesomeness guaranteed.

Steeking Fairisle

Monday, July 4th, 2016

When I was designing the Rime cowl for Elements, I worked on a version myself and later, for reasons of pattern accuracy and to adjust a few things, another version was knitted which was used for the final shoot.  This project is a Fairisle knit, knitted in the round.  The charts are pretty simple, but the cowl is also beaded and the Kidsilk Haze background shades are colourwashed.  It is started and ended with a deep ribbed edge, which is in turn folded over and slipped stitched down so the ends are really neat and the Fairisle doesn’t start for several inches.

Rime Snood Litchen Mitts

So, I had two cowls.  Then I got to wondering if I could steek one of them and make a throw with it.  The cowl is very big, so I thought it’d be a nice throw, with the pattern going the opposite way to how it is in the image above if you held it longways.  The problems I had to consider were:  it was not knitted to be steeked, so it had no steek ‘bridge’ built into the pattern; also the deep (two layers deep, too) ribbed borders at each end are not conventionally steeked at all, most patterns only deal with stocking stitch Fairisle – these ribs are not stranded; and it is beaded, so clearly once it was cut, the beads in these areas would probably become liberated, no matter how carefully I secured the steek.  Finally – and this was my main worry – the cowl is knitted with yarn double throughout.  So every end is really two ends…

It sort of preyed on my mind for a few months.  At the same time, I was designing things for my steeking courses later this year, which meant knitting and steeking a lot of samples.  So in the end, I decided to just try it.

A conventional steek would have an area set aside in which to secure and cut the steek and it would look something like this:

This is a sample, with simple Fairisle and a five stitch wide ‘bridge’; I cut the steek right up the middle of stitch number three.

So on my KSH cowl, I picked a spot in between some of the charted work where a cut would look most logical.  Then I surface crocheted up one side and down the other side of a line of stitches I had chosen:

I used Fine Lace, an ultra-fine smooth lace-weight yarn.

Then, I cut the steek:

And voila:

So far so good.  I then knitted a ‘sandwich’ finish on each side – i.e., over each steek-side.  This was not successful on the first one, so I did the other side and this was fine; so I undid the first attempt, which involved further cutting, and re-did it.  One side was far less stable than the other, especially in the area where the folded double-layer rib was, so although they are both now 100% stable and secure, one is fatter than the other.

Here is one side, sandwiched:

I used Kidsilk Haze double, as for the main throw, to knit the side edges. I used two of the colours used in the main cowl – black and grey, held together.  I chose these as this gave me the best chance to be able to see the backs of the stitches against the main work – you need to be able to identify and pick up these ‘bumps’ on the wrong side to complete the sandwich.  And here it is, on the wrong side, showing the many ‘ends’ safely tucked away inside:

Sorry the pics are so fuzzy.  Very difficult to get focus on KSH in soft-focus colourwash!

It took me about 2 full days (had I added all the time up) to complete the steeking and it was tricky, especially at the double rib ends, where the surface crochet only ‘grabs’ half the layer.

But overall I am delighted with it, and I now have both a cowl, circular version and a lovely light-weight but very warm, large throw:

I think it has also given me a huge confidence boost.  I am not afraid of steeking, and once I’d found the method that suits me best – which is the one I will be teaching – I was very comfortable with it.  But this experiment has been worthwhile and I’m now fearless!

Smoke and Mirrors – a new version!

Friday, June 17th, 2016

This is another version of Smoke and Mirrors by Michelle who attended this course here recently – the ginger and the deep blue look amazing together.  I love it.

Smoke and Mirrors by Michelle

If you would like to make this bag and learn a lot about felted hand-knitting with no tears, there are still two places on my autumn repeat – it is on Sunday 4 September and you can book it here.  These are are the last two spaces for any Court Cottage courses for 2016, so do come!  The knitting is pretty straightforward and rather good fun.  Everyone who has made this bag is delighted with it – it is a real head-turner.