Alison Crowther-Smith

Posts Tagged ‘Knitting Pattern’

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!



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 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


Copyright. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Copyright is such a tricky issue for indi designers. When you find a breach, it is even harder to know what to do about it, if anything. Recently I found that a woman in a different part of the UK is knitting and then selling, in her shop, some of my designs.

She isn’t selling the patterns (as far as I know) and they are from one of my books, now out of print. So really she is selling her labour and materials. And my design. When a book goes out of print, the copyright reverts after a period of time, to the originator.  So the hand-knit design part of this book has now reverted to me. If I wanted to sell my designs knitted up, I’d knit them and sell them (highly unlikely!) or license someone to knit them, sell them and pay me for that. It would be nice to be asked.

It is infuriating to stumble across breaches like this. She isn’t even changing the names of the pieces.  But what to do?  If I insist, maybe she will desist.  In the course of such an action, I may also damage my own reputation as a ‘nice’ person, because after all, I’d be coming over all strong arm to another indi maker, right?  And what have I lost by her doing this? If someone is willing to buy a ready knitted item, chances are they can’t knit so even if I am selling the patterns – which I am, arguably they wouldn’t buy it anyway.  But they might.  They might buy it, buy the wool and pay her to knit it.  As ever for me, this is not about the money but the principle.

And, if she ignored me, what then? Would I really take it further? Given the wafer-thin margins in knitting, that’s unlikely isn’t it?

When I started working in this field, there was no Ravelry.  Yes my child, such a time existed.  How we managed to organise our stash, or even cast on, I don’t know but we did. With the advent of Rav and other places, the availability of free patterns – often untested, not checked etc – has further blurred the lines of copyright.  There is now, I think, sometimes an assumption that everything just might be free.  For example, I know that a lot of people generously share their patterns with others, with absolutely no idea that it’s basically taking the fee – usually just a few quid or dollars – from the original designer.  Recently a lovely lady sent me a pattern that I admired.  And I was very touched.  But it meant that I had to privately go to this designer’s website and buy it anyway, as otherwise, I couldn’t have knitted the thing at all. I do use free patterns now and then. I have recently decided to knit a jumper (it has been cast on, knit to the yoke – and frogged but I might knit it yet…) and I used a free design.  Largely because I could not find the exact yarn used and techniques in a bought pattern.  If I can find a suitable pattern now (I need to change to a 4 ply design now, having already bought yarn that says DK and boasts a DK tension but is obviously not DK when knitted by me!), I will buy it as I reckon a bought design will have had more scrutiny.

I would also add that knitting my designs and giving them away as gifts is an activity I fully endorse in fact I actively promote it! And knitting things for an event for charity – also fine but as they are being sold, I should be asked and sometimes I am. I always say yes anyway.

What will I do about this woman?  She’s just trying to make a living, like me. At least they look reasonably well knitted. But aside from keeping the original names of my designs, there is (as far as I can see from her shop) no ‘credit’ to me, not even a nod in the direction of the book.  I think what has happened is that ages ago, she bought the book; and now she knits and sells things from it.  So she may think, if she thinks of it at all, that by buying it once, she has the ‘right’ to do this.


All the Images for Cables, Bobbles and Beads Events, October 2017 – March 2018

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

The Cables, Bobbles and Blackberries Scarf:

The Fables:

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.


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!


Mark:  A plan to invade somewhere!


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)


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.

The Cowl is Done!

Monday, March 20th, 2017

The Felted Tweed Fairisle Cowl is now complete and it’s a beauty.

FI Cowl greys 1

There are also Kidsilk Haze and silk-lined versions of this fully reversible neat neck cowl. I have designed it to be fairly snug so there is minimal gappage at the neck but it is very easily sized up.  The ‘lining’ is in fact a mirror image of the other side but it is basically knitted in one piece, in the round and there is no sewing up.

FI Cowl greys 5

There is one place left on the Fairisle Cowl workshops and this is for the 3rd of June – you can see the event and book it here.

Several people have expressed an interest in the event, but cannot make the dates so if you would like to go on an event to make this, please let me know and maybe we can organise another date.


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.





Smoke and Mirrors #2

Friday, March 25th, 2016

New colour-way for this new felted craft or handbag – Smoke and Mirrors in teal and green with bright copper beads. I really love this and it will be my new personal knitting bag as soon as its duties as a teaching aid are done.

The rich teal and vivid green really sing out, with a brightening effect after felting – something Felted Tweed often does I have noticed.

On this bag, the beads are far more of a feature than on version #1.  Here, the copper really works brilliantly with both shades.  A bit more bling!

The handles are the same dimensions as the ones I used on the grey and pink bag, but have a more modern design:

I think it is pretty certain that I will re-run this event in the summer or autumn.  Let me know if you’d like to be altered to the date.

Smoke and Mirrors Felted Bag

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

This is my new felted bag design.  It’s called Smoke and Mirrors.

Knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed, it uses two shades to create different felted landscapes. Pleated and beaded wide stripes form the top section, and the bottom sections of the sides are created with little windows of colour, framed with the main shade.  Here are some of my initial swatches:

And here is the bag, after being sewn and felted but before I added the handles:

This bag is smaller than my Bump Bag.  It is still more than adequate as a knitting or craft bag, or a largish hand-bag.  It is also rather more ‘felty’ because of the textures I have used.  If you wish, you can add further features such as a stiffened base, foot-studs or magnetic clasps, but it is fully functional and just as attractive without these additions.  There is an optional extra pattern for a matching felted needle case.

I am teaching this new design in April and May. These courses are fully booked, but I do have a small waiting list so if you would like to attend, please let me know as I may well add a date.


New Courses

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

I am going to add 2 dates in September for Knit Gifts For Christmas.  These will be the same event, repeated.  If you are not on my email alert list, please contact me to be added this week.  The gifts will be small (1 – 3 balls of yarn, typically) and fairly fast gift-knits.  I think there will hats for adults and children and mittens for ladies (‘cos ladies love mittens.  Fact).  I can knit the adult male sized hat in three evenings or a series of The Returned on Netflix.  I can knit the mittens in a week of evenings or two series of Once Upon a Time on Netflix. So by having these in September, you get plenty of time to make a few as gifts.

I was thinking of another topic for September and based on feedback, I think that would be a throw, but I think I will soon run out of weekends.  An option I’d like to explore is holding full workshops on weekdays, probably Fridays.  What do you think?  I know this will limit a lot of people, but I always teach in shops on weekdays and these classes are usually full. It would enable me to offer more dates and subjects, which I would like to do.

I am also definitely going to add a new Throncho date, hopefully for 2016 but it may slip into 2017, for a special day on learning to knit my new Throncho, which is an elegant DK wool, stripy garment, knitted based on iCord casting on and iCord casting off.  Here it is:

iCord Throncho 1

This deceptively simple looking garment is constructed in a way I have never seen used (but then, I have decided not to Google-ize it in case it has). I know iCord cast ons and offs are sometimes used to begin and complete an item, but I have used them throughout the work.  Thus, the work runs in both horizontal and vertical directions.   There is no sewing up or tacking on of iCords – they are an integral part of the design.iCord Throncho 3

Anyway this day will be a fairly intense teach as we will need to show you the easily-mastered but highly unusual techniques we have developed to make this work – and it works like a dream.  You will have to swatch, here, with Madam Morgan and me.  There will two item choices – the full Throncho, or a skinny scarf version.  Both are based on the same techniques.

OK I am off to look in awe at the red-nose I have blooming in the middle of my face.  Maybe by the time these courses run I will less infectious – and on that happy note, be sure to let me know if you want to get an alert.


The Smith and Jones Blog

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Aside from my meanderings here, I also blog now and then on the Smith & Jones Knits website.  There, due largely to the restraining influence (in a very good way) of Donna, I blog only about knitting, where as here you get me blathering on about trees and caves and allotment and food and – well, life.  But then, I have always been very clear that this blog is by a knitter but may not always be about knitting.  Smith & Jones Knits is all about knitting.  So if you are frankly sick of my underground activities, or could not care less if my garlic is going well down on the allotment, check out Smith & Jones Knits.

One cool thing that we are doing is slowly building a little catalog of articles about the designs in Elements, our new book. Each month, we are selecting an item and taking it in turns to dissect the design.  It will reveal a little about the design ideas behind each one but the main point is to give you an in-depth, informal tutorial on the knitting of the piece.  In a written pattern, you can’t always add all the tips and wrinkles that may make it a more pleasurable experience for you, if you knit one of the designs.  Also, we are now starting to teach some of the designs and this gives us invaluable data about any areas in a design that a knitter might find a wee bit tricky – we can help.

My first one is now up, and it is a detailed look at knitting the Lumi Mittens:

Next, Donna is going to tell you all about the design and knitting of Birch, a beautiful waterfall-front waistcoat with an ingenious design twist:


We also write about other things, and recently I posted about how Donna and I approached our story boards for Elements – and how we then used these to make sure we delivered our vision.

I do really hope you will drop by and visit Smith & Jones Knits, because Donna and I are probably first and foremost teachers of knitting, which is very firmly driven by our designing.  The S&J blog will evolve – is evolving – into a unique resource for anyone who has Elements, because we are really passionate about making sure you get the most from each item you knit from it – and I do not know of a similar resource out there.

Jo’s Fairisle

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Look what Jo knitted!

Jo's Fairisle 2 (3)

Her first ever Fairisle, it’s my neck cowl, knitted in the round, in colour-washed Kidsilk Haze plus beads.  I love it.


‘Elements’ Cover Shot

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Here is the final cover shot for my new book, ‘Elements’ jointly authored with Donna Jones. The book is officially available from 1 October 2015.

The cover features a design by each of us.  I hope you like it.

Final Cover

Retailers can buy stock of the book via their Rowan representative or their Rowan account.  It will be with Rowan in September.  If you are a retailer and would like to discuss any promotional activity or teaching opportunities with Smith & Jones, please get in touch.

We also have a Smith & Jones Face Book page. Like this to get weekly up-dates on all our Smith & Jones news.

New Pattern: A Circle Shawl. Plus New Workshop: Shibori ‘Bump Bag’ Repeat Date

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Roundabout Shawl Design – Pattern Released

I have added a new design to the website. This is The Roundabout Shawl, which can be knitted in DK or 4 ply yarn, and the pattern provides for both options.  However, you can really knit this is any weight of yarn within reason subject to also changing the needle size, and omit the beads if you do not want them.

The shawl is a big accessory.  It’s not a super-fast knit but nor is it very slow, because being based on simple (no wrapping) short-row shaping, it decreases gradually in each of its six segments.

Here is the beaded DK version:

And here is the un-beaded 4 ply version:

Reasons to love this knit are:

  • it is knitted flat, but unlike many half or full circle shawls, it does not grow from the top down (or the bottom up).  It is knitted from side to side, but in segments, using simple short-row shaping
  • the short-row shaping is combined with very simple lace so there is no need to wrap when turning
  • the number of stitches will never be greater than the number you begin with, and in fact goes down by one stitch every two rows
  • there is no sewing up, or picking up and knitting (except for the tiny and optional reinforcing area at the back-neck); despite being segmented, it is knitted all in one piece
  • its fullness means that as a piece worn simply slipped over the shoulders, it has a waterfall front effect; but when thrown back over a shoulder, it stays steadfastly put
  • it is deep at the back – about 4 inches below my waist – but at the front, it rests at elbow length so it is never in the way

Buy the pattern here.

Extra Shibori Knitted Felt Workshop: Knit the Bump Bag, 5 September 2015

I have also added another date for the Shibori Knitted Felt Workshop:  Knit the Bump Bag, as once again, there was a waiting list.  However, there are still 4 spaces available, so you can book it here.

We will be knitting the Bump Bag, but primarily this day is aimed at delivering an almost staggering amount of information about felting and Shibori techniques in the course of one mad-marble-filled-day.  Here is the bag and the matching beaded felted needle case:

Bump bag main image

Bump Bag needle case on side board

It is on 5 September 2015.  You can book here.



Full Moon Over Court Cottage Predicted for The Weekend

Friday, January 30th, 2015


On 31 January, we are starting the ‘new term’ of Court Cottage classes with the Full Moon Workshop.  I am very excited to be starting the teaching year and with a brand new subject.  This is the first time I have held this event – in fact, all the events for 2015 except Bump Bag Shibori Felting in February, are new topics and projects.

There are two designs for this Saturday.  Both are full circle shawls, though they are really different.  But first, the ways in which they are similar:  both easy; both quite ‘big’ knits (yarn usage and time); both can be beaded or plain; both are knitted flat; both can be knitted, within reason, in any yarn assuming you use the right needles.  I mean, I probably wouldn’t knit them in eye-lash yarn or fun fur, but otherwise, it will work.

The first shawl is quite traditional, being knitted from the top down and finishing with eleventy-sixteen stitches as it grows both in length and mooniness.  I love this, it is quite short, it swirls round, the stocking stitch sections ‘oppose’ one another, and it has a pretty lacy edge.

The other shawl is knitted sideways, so you never have more stitches than you began with, in fact, since it is short row shaping, it is reducing as you go.  This latter shawl is segmented though there is no sewing up, you just transition from one segment to the next.  What I really love about this one is that it is deeply swirling, very full, and has a swing-back effect.  It will stay on you (my full circle shawls have a body gap, so they do not have be knitted in the round and folded to wear them), however you wear it.

It can be draped and it will give you an elegant waterfall front effect.  Or it can be thrown over one shoulder – either way, it will not fall off, and the swing-back is the same. It is heavy, especially the beaded version, in DK yarn, so it’s cosy but not oppressive.  The length is about elbow, so it is short enough to allow you to drink a glass of champagne or knit, unimpeded by shawl-faffage.  This segmented design means it is not actually round – it’s fifty-pence-piece-shaped.

By the way, I knitted one of these in Rowan Alpaca Colour – gorgeous.

The patterns will be added to the site next week.

The course is fully booked.  However, if you think you’d like to come on full moon course here this year, email me and if I can, I will set another date.

Retailers, if you think you’d like this event at your shop, I will be teaching ‘The Roundabout’ shawl as a one-day workshop, so please contact me for details.


Two New Patterns

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

I have added two new patterns to the Pattern Store.  I now have 32 designs in there – I am really happy to have such a nice little collection, all designed specially for my own website and my own workshops!  In 2015 I will be adding more, and hopefully some mini-collections of my own.

The new designs are the Cave Pearl Bobble Mitts:

Here you can see the lace-sided thumb.  Here they are lying flat:

And the other pattern is a collection of Star Decorations, which also includes a lovely festive star-shaped cushion.

Above, one of the stars; and here is the cushion:

I hope you like them.

Halloween Designs

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Last weekend we had the first ever Court Cottage Halloween Workshop.  It was possibly the best fun we have ever had.


Next year’s event is already sold out and I am thinking, as it’s great fun but quite time-consuming to decorate the cottage and garden, that I *might* hold a second Halloween event in 2015.  I don’t have a waiting list, but if you’d be interested, please let me know.  It would probably be  the weekend after the one that is already arranged.  The designs will be spooky, elegant, and dark rather than literal – and as I write, I have only a vague idea what it or they may be…

This year, we played a murder game (no actual violence though I must say, it revealed a dark side to some of my participants that I had not glimpsed before) and the prizes were magic yarn: never ending balls of yarn that would always knit the most perfect items, never run out, tangle or make a mistake!

Puriton, usually quite deserted on a Saturday morning, was weirdly busy and as my procession of witches, ghosts and imps arrived at the house – re-named Corpse Cottage for the day – the locals were agog.  Thus confirming all their ideas about me and mine, no doubt.

I have also now added the two designs that I made for the day this year.  They are the Wraith Stole, and the Spirit Mitts.  Both patterns are available to buy now.



Frilly Boas a-go-go at Spin-a-Yarn! Thursday 18 September 2014

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

One of the events I am teaching next year is my Boa Road-Show.  OK, it’s not a road-show, it’s just me with two boas.  However, I am previewing this at an exclusive Spin-a-Yarn, Devon event next week and the delightful spinners tell me that there are, shockingly, two places now available.

Why don’t you come along?  It’s Thursday 18 September 2014, 10 – 4.

This is what you will be learning to make:

Prepare to be ‘frilled’…!

You can talk to Spin-a-Yarn by using this link.  It would be really lovely to see you there.