Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for the ‘Free patterns’ Category

The Last Day of Christmas

Monday, December 25th, 2017

Happy Christmas!  It is Christmas morning and the pattern elf has placed this little design in your stocking.

Smoke and Mirrors detail for needle case

It is the Smoke and Mirrors Felted Needle Case that is the companion to my Smoke and Mirrors bag pattern.  This uses 2 shades of Felted Tweed and some beads.  I think this is a perfect post-Christmas project and you might have some left-over yarn you can use.  Other yarns may be alright, but do test them first to make sure they will felt.  The temperature that you use may vary.

I hope you have enjoyed the 12 Days of Christmas pattern give-away.  I am going to leave this last one up as a free pattern into 2018.

Thank you for following my blog, coming to my events, buying my designs and generally being great.

Ali x


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.


Designer Notes: The Smoke and Mirrors Felted Bag

Friday, September 9th, 2016

I have now taught this design a fair bit and I have also released the pattern which is here, for anyone who has not attended the course.  So I think now is a good time to also set out some Designer Notes.

This is a felted bag, washed in your washing machine.  I have done a great deal of hand-knitted felt including Shibori Felt but this my first big venture into non-Shibori texture.

The concept is for a large, sturdy project bag which is knitted in three pieces excluding the pockets.  The stitches I use create a significant depth of texture after felting and so the bag does not need lining.  But you can of course, if you wish.

Here are the basics:

  • Knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed in 2 shades; you will need 3 of A and 6 of B.
  • It has been designed to fit well with handles from here.  But if you find other handles you prefer, use these approximate dimensions.
  • There are beads, placed traditionally, i.e. not with a crochet hook, but in clusters of 3 rather than singly.
  • You will need 4 mm needles.  For the sides which are quite hefty, I used a fixed cable circular needle about 80 cm long.
  • Felted at 60 degrees for between 80 and 90 minutes in a standard wash programme.
  • There are two interesting but not difficult stitches in use, all fully explained and I will set some notes out here too.
  • Suitable for an average knitter – it is easy to moderate.

The bag begins, inevitably, with some stocking stitch.  There are few centimeters of this because we are knitting a wide flap which, once the bag is felted and dry, will be fed through the slots in the handles and then sewn down.  There is a fold line half way.  Once you complete this bit of knitting, I suggest in the pattern that you mark the beginning and end of the last row.  This is because that marked row is the row where the sewing up of the sides to the gusset will also begin and end.  There is also a visual clue in that you also, at this point, start the folded beaded pattern.

The beads are placed in clusters of three – just as easy as placing them singly.  This section has deep folds which are formed by literally picking up the back of the stitch from the wrong side, so it is easy to see, some rows down, and purling this ‘stitch’ along with the next real stitch on the left hand needle.  You do this four times, then purl four stitches normally, all along these fold rows.  The row you are picking from is seven  rows down – you count the bumps.  My top tips for this are:

  • Slightly stretch/pull your work down to expose the ‘ladder’ of bumps.
  • You know you are in the right area if, when you look at the right side, the clusters of beads are about in the middle of the fold.
  • Once you have the first of your four pick-ups right, you just pick the stitch next door for the following three pick-ups.

The stitch is a multiple of eight.  But, both the beads and the folds are off-set, so for the first part where the bag is also being shaped with increases, the numbers have been adjusted to make sure they remain off-set.

The second part of the side uses two shades together, but never on the same row.  The shade not in use is carried up the side.  This part is based on garter stitch and slipping stitches in between.  The garter stitch element essentially forms the ‘framer’ of colour around the contrast shade.  I held this double, but the other yarn is held single.

My top tips for this are:

  • Do not pull the yarn tight as you carry it up the sides.
  • There are slipped stitches so there is yarn ‘carried’ across the back.  You don’t have to do anything, it just happens, but again, make sure you do not pull this tight.
  • Do not worry that this part looks rather distorted and puckered.  All will be well after felting, but I have added extra rows to take account of the loss of height that will happen when you wash it.

The two sides are made the same, then you knit the gusset which you will pin and then sew all round the sides, along the bottom and back up the other side.  Use a firm back-stitch to sew these seams.

You can knit the pockets first to practice the stitches, then also felt them first to test your machine.  The wash is about 80 – 90 minutes at 60 degrees.

Once the bag is sewn up, but the flaps are NOT sewn down until you sew in the handle later, you wash it and then dry and de-fluff it.  This yarn used to be very fluffy after felting and some knitters have said their bags were fluffy, but none of my samples or the two full bags I have knitted have been bad at all.  But anyway, this just needs you to use a damp hand and stroke the bag firmly inside and out to get the fluff off.  I do this outside!  Once de-fluffed, that’s it, it never happens again.

I really enjoyed designing this bag and knitting it is not boring at all.  Yes it is a longish knit but the results are worthwhile.  A bag that is unique and will last you a life-time of knitting.

You can buy the pattern here. 



Free pattern available from Rowan

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

I was asked to design an easy summer wrap using Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour.  Et voila, here it is:  The Stellar Wrap.  Download the pattern free when you register or log on to Rowan.

Stellar Wrap Cover


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


A Sparkly Wreath

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Today we had a Christmas workshop here at Court Cottage, the last workshop of the year at home, though I have four to teach elsewhere before I shut up shop for Christmas.  It was a full house, we had the best fun and everyone knitted some sparkly decorations.

For the event, I also made a knitter’s Christmas wreath:


This was very easy and such fun.  It’s far from an original idea, there are many such wreaths out there, but this one is extra-sparkly.  Here is the tutorial:

You will need:

  • A base-wreath;  mine was a twiggy one, unpainted and it is small
  • Polystyrene balls – small and medium, available from most habi or craft stores – I used 11, mixed sizes
  • Some flexible but sturdy garden wire – mine was green, plastic coated
  • Cheap DK woollen or acrylic yarn, white
  • A pair of knitting needles you are prepared to sacrifice
  • Length of ribbon to hang the wreath
  • A can of silver craft spray paint
  • Loose silver glitter.

Step 1:  wrap the balls with yarn.  I secured the yarn to start with a small ‘U’ shaped piece of wire dug into the ball, trapping the end of yarn.  Secure the other end in the same way once the ball is covered

Step 2:  if the wreath is polystyrene, wrap it with yarn and/or ribbon to completely cover it

Step 3:  secure the balls to the wreath as you like them arranged, using the garden wire

Step 4:  stick the needles through a ball, crossed

Step 5:  secure your hanging ribbon

Step 6:  go outside, put on an old coat and spray the wreath, making sure you disguise any wires and get effective coverage of the balls, the needles and the wreath.

Step 7:  while the spray is wet, sprinkle on the glitter.  Once it is all dry, bring it back inside.  Voila!  A Knitter’s Christmas!


Early Christmas gift – to you!

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Here is a little free pattern, a 1st December present from me to you.  This is part of the ‘package’ of Christmas knits that we did here in November.  I have decided to do another Festive Knits day next November cos the last one was so much fun but with a new batch of little trinkets!


I think if you have this pattern now, you will still have time to knit a few little gift bags before the big day.  These little bags are knitted flat, starting at one frill and ending at the other frill, i.e., all in one piece and the yarn is held double.  A bag takes about 5 – 7g of KSH.  So stash-busting is indicated!  I haven’t knitted them in other yarns but I think they’d also be cool in 1 strand each of KSH and Shimmer, (with the frill just in KSH maybe);  or Fine Lace and KSH.  I can knit and finish one in about 2 hours or less and I am not a fast knitter by any means.

Using this as a template, you can of course decorate the bags anyway you like – stars and snow-flakes spring to mind.  I did one with hearts and this is also in your pattern:

There is also a bag with beads and sequins which you can just see twinkling away behind the star-stitch bag.  So that’s 3 for you to have a go at – if you go ahead and create a new design for your bags, such as a star, will you please share your pattern with us?

I wish I had a gift for you for every day of December up to Christmas Eve, like an Advent calendar.  Sadly, I don’t.  I do however have one more present, a short-story that I have written for you about Christmas and it does (briefly) feature knitting.  This will be left under your tree (if by tree you mean in this blog, on your computer) just before Christmas Day so be good boys and girls, won’t you?

Here is the document:  Christmas Gift Bags for blog


Shameless Dachshund post; free pattern; workshop news

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Wow, I’ve been away from AC-S Land for far too long and therefore a huge back-log of news to share with you has piled up in the linen cupboard.  This is why the title of this post is not so much snappy, more a shopping list…

But first, here is Arthur being amazingly, almost sickeningly, cute:

I’d been in the garden with Lily, who was taking a picture of me and the boa – that is your new free pattern, by the way, keep reading, we’ll get there in the end – when Arthur emerged from the Big Border, with a juicy, wormy little red apple:

Too late, he saw me and Lily by the front door, tried to leg it with his apple but we caught him and took loads of pictures.  He was afraid we’d take the apple from him, as the dogs are very greedy and I often do attempt to wrestle dog-saliva soaked apples from their locked jaws, never with any success if it’s Rupert, but we let him keep this one as a reward for his super-model cuteness.

And speaking of super-models, I had a VIP (Very Important Puppy) here last week.  Bronte, the most adorable mini-Dach ever (except Rupert and Arthur…just in case they’ve grown opposable thumbs, got an Apple Mac – oh lol, go on – learned to read and had a look at my blog…).  Bronte came to my Knit a Christmas Gift workshop last Saturday with her mum, who is my friend, Jackie.  Bronte is a micro-mini, so petite and just so beautiful and angelically good.  Who was it in literature – the sort of book girls like me read when they are 14 – who said it would be hard to choose between being stunningly beautiful, amazingly clever or angelically good?  I think it was Anne Shirley.  Actually, that’s a no-brainer of a question, since really, who’s going to choose angelically good as an option?  Not me.  Luckily for Bronte, she doesn’t have to choose, as she is all three!

Here we are, at the end of the workshop, hence me a bit red in the face, to match my dress and somewhat shiny…

And look! we both wore red, and we hadn’t even planned it!

(Do I look like a Russian spy, by the way?  I ask because in my next picture I really do!)

I think Bronte and Arthur look a lot alike, though he is of course, as you can see from his pictures, bigger, being a rugged boy (ahem) but not that much bigger.  Rupert looks like a Doberman beside Bronte, not that I let them meet as he is a bit too grumpy for that.  But next time Bronte comes, I might let Arthur say hello…

Bronte, by the way, has been on a lot of workshops with really famous knitters such as Debbie Abrahams and Jane Crowfoot, so I am thinking of booking her for one here next year – she’s very good at colour work.

Right, let’s move on to the free pattern.  Now brace yourselves.  It’s crochet!  I know! I don’t even like crochet and can only do it by contorting my body, face and especially my left hand into disturbing inhuman shapes, poking out my tongue and emitting little squeaking noises now and again.  Imagine that flight to and from Spain a couple of years ago, when I got away with crocheting on the plane, in lieu of banned knitting!  Oh it was such fun, especially for the girls who find my public displays of crafting mortifyingly embarrassing at the best of times;  honestly, you’d think I knitted naked the fuss they make, I don’t of course, ‘cos the pattern slides off your legs…

So this is a free pattern for a super-fat and super-long crochet boa.  If like me you are crochet-phobic, trust me, this is easy and worth while.  I was ‘taught’ to crochet by a long line of failed teachers, none of whom really made my intensely knitting-focused brain accept the crochet.  Then one day, as I think I have told you before, I had a lesson from Dr Donna, pattern checker to the confused and an amazing teacher.  Donna explains things in a really good way for someone like me who learns physically – and slowly.  Donna taught me to crochet a basic twisted scarf.  I then of course multiplied this by about eleventy plus I added KSH.  The pattern – I could do it, but did not know what the various stitches were – was written for me by a customer at the yummy Marmalade Yarns, when I confessed that I’d like to write down what I’d done but could not.  So she did a forensic examination of the boa – for it is a boa, not a scarf – and here it is!  Mine is very very fat and long, so maybe you’d like yours a bit more manageable?  But I have to say, this has drama.  Here is the download. 

Twirl Crochet Boa

I am sorry that I look like an inscrutable Russian spy in this shot, I think it was the fault of the sun in my eyes/the photographer/the many George Smiley spying books I have become hopelessly addicted to.  In real life I’m a lot less narrow-eyed/tense jawed.  In fact, it might be best to just not have any images of me, and stick to the dachshunds!  But you see how long it is, here I am wearing it folded in half and doubled over and threaded through the gap, as it were…

Here you can see the construction:  the main part is the now discontinued and lovely Rowan Tapestry – much mourned;  this was a lustrous silk-like DK yarn, so any DK will do, Rowan Pure Wool DK would be an economical alternative, or go for a luxury silk blend, but choose a smooth, sleek, calm yarn.  I say this because the icing on the cake is of course the enormous last layer I added – Kidsilk Haze.  Crochet takes a lot of yarn by the way, I used simply masses.  Oh but it’s worth it, it’s so opulent, dramatic and warm!  I defy you to wear this and not feel like a Hollywood diva, I did, even in the garden, in my black tee-shirt and tartan PJ bottoms, carefully out of shot…

Once I wore it to a Rowan ‘do’ where one had, as a Rowan person, to wear a Rowan ‘garment’ – I decided that since this boa used more yarn than a cardigan, I’d wear this, strictly speaking not allowed, but time was ever short.  Anyway, I wore it over a black number for the ‘champagne’ reception on the evening preceding the workshop that was to follow all weekend.  Rain of the Biblical variety that Yorkshire and Somerset do so well, had kept about half the guests away, but some struggled in.  Including – wait for this:  The Glitter Knitter!  yes, The Glitter Knitter is a lovely celebrity (male) yarn store owner in America – it’s either Minneapolis or Minnesota – and he’d come over to the UK for a knitting tour with his Posse of Glitter Knitters.  Well, he literally cantered across the almost empty gallery, skidded to an elegant halt in front of me and gathered hand-fulls of my boa – I was still wearing it –  to his manly breast (which was in turn adorned with three layers of hand-knit metallic yarn vests…).  Oh!  he crooned, I adore your boa!  Startled, I may have taken a step back and made the UK-wide gesture that indicates:  ‘personal space’.  I can’t help it, I want to be all continental but I’m so English, I think I really ought to get a grant and a guide to show people round me.  I mention this encounter in order to prepare you for the reaction your boa may provoke, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hope you enjoy it.

Finally, next Saturday I am teaching here at Court Cottage, a workshop dedicated to Christmas decorations, favours and tiny gifts.  It’s been full for weeks but now someone has, for very understandable reasons, sadly dropped out so there is one space.  If you want to come and knit sparkly gift-bags, icicles dripping with sequins in the shape of snow-flakes and other delicious little trinkets, eat dark chocolate cake and generally play with us, book your place here.

Here are some of the little trinkets I am designing:

A little starry stitch bag with a sprinkling of beads that look like the silver balls your aunt and Nigella Lawson put on trifles, the former because one always does and the latter ‘cos it’s retro chic.  I have chosen a monochrome colourway.  The idea however, is that each knitter chooses a colour scheme and sequins and beads, naturally and makes a few decorations here with me, then takes the pattern sheets and yarns home to make a lot more!


Thursday, January 6th, 2011

I think that left-overs are often at least as good as the main meal.  I’m so keen on them, I make extra-huge meals the first time round in order to have many many left-overs.  Then there is no need to make a sandwich for lunch (or as is usually the case, open ‘fridge, stare vacantly at contents, close ‘fridge, fail to make sandwich but make cup of tea instead…)  With the magic of left-overs, all I have to do is remember to put some of it in the warming oven at breakfast time, then after a hard morning of pattern-wrangling, I can just eat, no thinking needed.

So it is with knitting.  Left-over bits of yarn are hoarded and saved for something-important-sometime.  Only, I don’t always find a use for it.  We need to be creative in using up these precious bits and pieces – I think that, along with a free pattern for you here, from time to time, we’ll have a left-overs category where I can pop some ideas for using up the left-overs.  Mainly these will be so simple they won’t need patterns, but if I think it does need one, I’ll add it as a PDF for you to download.

First up any day soon, will be this Kidsilk Haze left-overs idea for a cushion.  So, never throw away KidSilk Haze over 1 metre in length, ‘cos that’s just enough for a bobble.  Aiming to post this free pattern on my blog in the next few days.

Kidsilk Haze left-overs, warmed up and served as bobbles on a cushion

Free Pattern – The Mooting Mitts

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Mooting Mitts

As I promised you, I have now completed the pattern for the Mooting Mitts and it’s available here as a free download.  Note:  tension is measured over 10 cm sq

Enjoy! X

(Click link below to download the first free pattern on my website, you’ll need to do this twice)

Chart & full patt for Mooting Mitts

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…