Kaali

My personal copy of the latest Pom Pom Quarterly arrived in Nova Scotia this week! In this autumn issue they highlight the art and mystery of natural dyes. All eleven patterns use various yarns that have been dyed with natural materials. When I first heard this theme was chosen, I immediately wanted to muster the inspiration to submit an idea. I haven't published anything new since Take Heart, so it feels good to get back to creating something new on the needles.

I've always held a strong interest in natural dyes. During my time studying at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, I needed to take a handful of dyeing courses for my major in textiles. I immediately fell in love with the alchemy behind the process but was discouraged when my body started to react to the chemical dyes we were using in class. I was struggling physically and emotionally during the semester. I finally felt that textiles was an area I wanted to pursue but I didn't know how to, if the class materials were toxic to my health. After the class ended, I found out that there was a natural dye course being offered during the summer semester. I eagerly signed up and spent the summer on "foraging" field trips and learning about the science and magic behind plant based dyes. After that, I was in love. I was able to use this knowledge as I went into the rest of my courses and incorporated elements into my weaving and screen printing work. I no longer dabble in it since knitting takes up most of my time but when I can find gorgeous naturally dyed yarn, I do indulge. 

When I first glimpsed Pom Pom's autumn mood-board I had just finished my second year at Unravel, a knitting festival in Farnham. That weekend I treated myself and brought home lots of Elisabeth Beverley's plant dyed cashmere (pictured above) and a few skeins of her merino. I began thinking of a possible submission to Pom Pom and knew I had to use the cashmere. I mainly design small accessories and knew one skein of the cashmere would be perfect for a project like this. As for the mood-board, I was drawn to the photos of fabric swatches (pictured below). They reminded me of my own natural dye notebooks which hold swatches from various dye bath combinations. I instantly loved the gradient affect from the photo on the left and the layers in the photo on the right and drew inspiration from these two pictures. I wanted to somehow combine both of these elements into my design. 

Write here...

Write here...

Here are the beginning stages of my design, Kaali. This was the sketch and swatch I submitted to Pom Pom for their consideration. I wanted the cuffs of the fingerless mitts to be delicate and I used a different textures to create layers. I thought Temaricious cotton threads would be a perfect way to pull in hints of colour without having to invest in full sized skeins. I've always wanted to use their threads but don't have the extra time to spend on embroidery since I'm always knitting. For the rest of the mitt I wanted to have a simple but yet interesting texture to highlight the beautiful colour of the cashmere. 

I may be slightly biased but my overall impression of Issue 18 is that it's incredibly gorgeous. Many of the other designs I would like to knit for myself. Patterns such as Asklöv and Roquaine are on my list if I find the time to do some knitting purely for pleasure. I love Rachel Hayton's moody photography and Katie Green's illustrations of each natural ingredient. Many thanks to Pom Pom for including me in this issue with many other artists and designer who I admire and thanks to Elisabeth Beverly and Temaricious for providing yarn support! 

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Photography by Rachel Hayton

Alpaca Tweed at Loop

Summer is slowly starting to creep into London. We've had a few incredibly nice days lately, even though the temperature still drops and becomes quite chilly at night. I know around this time most knitters change the yarn preferences to cotton and linen and cast summer projects onto their needles. I fear I am the opposite. As much as I would love to knit some linen tops for myself, the urge is never strong enough. Instead, I am always counting down the weeks until autumn's first frost. I tend to work with heavier and warmer blends all year round. So when I heard the news that Loop would be carrying The Border Mill's Alpaca Tweed, I was ecstatic!

Photo Credit: @looplondonloves

Photo Credit: @looplondonloves

Photo Credit: @looplondonloves

Photo Credit: @looplondonloves

Alpaca Tweed has been one of my favourite yarn discoveries since moving to London. If you've flipped through Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting, you've probably read about how much I love this yarn since finding their stand at Edinburgh Yarn Festival in 2015. At this year's festival, they were number one on my list of businesses to visit. I was pleased to see the new yarns they've been developing since last year too. Loop in London, is stocking their Alpaca Tweed in a special range of colours for the shop. Now that this yarn is within arms reach, this is very, very dangerous for me. 

Photo Credit: Sophie Scott for Loop Knit Lounge Blog

Photo Credit: Sophie Scott for Loop Knit Lounge Blog

To anticipate the arrival of the twelve new shades, I collaborated with Loop's owner, Susan Cropper, to design a fun floral themed bunting for the shop. I'm so thrilled to see that the bunting pattern is now available as a free PDF download. You can find Blossom Bunting on Loop's blog here. Loop's resident blogger, Sophie Scott, transformed the shop's window to display the new colours and bunting. I also knit up my Chester Basin set from Take Heart for the shop which you can now see in person when you stop by to visit. I used Hydrangea Dream for the main colour and Where Breezes Begin as the accent. I love this new combination and how different it feels from the original Night Sky and Distressed Oatmeal used in the book. Also, just a friendly reminder, there has been an errata posted on Pom Pom's Errata Page about this pattern. If you're purchasing Alpaca Tweed from Loop or The Border Mill directly, you'll need two skeins of the main colour if you're planning to knit the larger set. One skein of each colour is still sufficient to make the small or medium set. I hope you love it as much as I do! 

Picot Hem Tutorial for Lunenburg Harbour

When I traveled to Iceland a few weeks ago, I was in need of a small portable project to take with me and what's more perfect than a pair of socks on the go. It was an excuse to reknit the Lunenburg Harbour socks from my book, Take Heart. They were originally one of the first pieces I started to design and knit for the book. It was a pleasure to revisit them again. In doing so, I unfortunately regret to mention that I did come across a few mistakes in this pattern. 

I will post the erratas here. You can also find them on Pom Pom's Errata page. The first one is in the very beginning of the Foot Section.

Foot: Round 1: K10 (12),  [sl1, k2] 5 times, k8 (k10), k to end.

Knit to end, instead of purl to end, only for this first round. This insures a seamless joining of the two contrasting colours.

Leg: The round numbering is out of sync after Round 16 and currently reads from Round 11-39. All pattern text is correct but the rounds should be numbered from Round 17-49.

Cuff: Using the backwards loop method, cast 4 sts onto LH needle. Ignore turn work. 

This should be Leaf Hand needle instead of RH. I'll revisit this again in the Lace Trim Tutorial

The rest of this post is a tutorial on how to finish your sock with the picot trim. How to pick up for the lace trim will be in this second blog post. You'll need the lace yarn (Yarn B), a darning needle and scissors. So far, I have finished knitting the sock (excluding the heel). The last round of stitches is still on my knitting needles.

This pattern does call for double pointed needles. However, this time I knit this pair on a long circular needle using the Magic Loop Method. I used one 80 cm / 2mm Chiaogoo circular needle. I prefer to do one sock at a time. I also did knit the majority of this pair inside out. I cast on and did the toe as directed in the book.

I added a short-row to change direction once I joined my main colour (Yarn A). This allows me to kint my sock inside out. Follow the directions but knit instead of purl, purl instead of knit and slip stitches with yarn in front instead of yarn in back. I used some yarn I already had in my stash (shocking I know). I had plenty left over from Toft's Alpaca Fine Sock yarn from the original pair. You'll also recognize The Uncommon Thread's BFL, colour Attic Room, used in the Pennard Castle leg warmers from the book. 

1. Break Yarn A and leave a long tail, approximately three times the circumference of your sock, for sewing down the picot hem. Thread the darning needle with Yarn B. Slowly thread the stitches from your needle onto the darning needle and Yarn B. Work in a clockwise direction. 

1. Break Yarn A and leave a long tail, approximately three times the circumference of your sock, for sewing down the picot hem. Thread the darning needle with Yarn B. Slowly thread the stitches from your needle onto the darning needle and Yarn B. Work in a clockwise direction. 

2. Continue to transfer all of the stitches and remove your knitting needles. Unthread darning needle and leave Yarn B still attached and off to the side. Yarn B will be used to knit the lace trim later.

2. Continue to transfer all of the stitches and remove your knitting needles. Unthread darning needle and leave Yarn B still attached and off to the side. Yarn B will be used to knit the lace trim later.

3. Fold down hem to see the picot edging. Thread darning needle with your main yarn (Yarn A). 

3. Fold down hem to see the picot edging. Thread darning needle with your main yarn (Yarn A). 

4. To sew the hem down, start by inserting the needle into the first live stitch, as if to purl. Draw yarn through but do not pull it too snug. If the hem is sewn down too tightly, the cuff of the sock will be difficult to pull on. 

4. To sew the hem down, start by inserting the needle into the first live stitch, as if to purl. Draw yarn through but do not pull it too snug. If the hem is sewn down too tightly, the cuff of the sock will be difficult to pull on. 

5. Lift hem up to find the corresponding stitch directly below. Insert the darning needle into the first purl bump several rows below, from top to bottom. 

5. Lift hem up to find the corresponding stitch directly below. Insert the darning needle into the first purl bump several rows below, from top to bottom. 

6. Pull the yarn through to close up the hem.

6. Pull the yarn through to close up the hem.

7. Insert the darning needle into the next live stitch, always as if to purl. 

7. Insert the darning needle into the next live stitch, always as if to purl. 

8. Insert the darning needle, top to bottom, into the next purl bump. 

8. Insert the darning needle, top to bottom, into the next purl bump. 

9.  Continue to repeat Steps 7 & 8, until all the the stitches have been worked. 

9. Continue to repeat Steps 7 & 8, until all the the stitches have been worked. 

10. Check every once in a while to make sure there is still some stretch in the cuff. 

10. Check every once in a while to make sure there is still some stretch in the cuff. 

11. Once the hem is sewn down completely, weave in Yarn A and trim excess yarn. 

11. Once the hem is sewn down completely, weave in Yarn A and trim excess yarn. 

The picot hem in now complete! Next step will be to pick up for the lace trim. You can find that tutorial here. Your sock is almost done! 

Many thanks to my talented housemate, Otto Django Masters, for helping with the photography. Check out his website

Winter 2016

It's shaping up to be a busy winter already. My first festival of 2016 will be the Waltham Abbey Wool Show this weekend. It will be my first time at this show along with promoting my new book, Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting Journey. I'll be there again with Natalie Selles, Leeleetea, and we'll have our selection of knitting kits and patterns. Stop by to see the samples from the book in person or just to say hi!

Waltham Abbey Wool Show, Sunday January 17th, 10am to 4pm

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My next festival will be Unravel, again hosted in Farnham at the Maltings, February 19 to 21. Then it will be a few weeks till I head up to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival again, March 18 to 19. I'm looking forward to revisiting both of these shows this year. Hope to see some familiar faces and meet plenty of new ones! 

Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting Journey

Some of you may have already seen, Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting Journey, the first book to be published by Pom Pom Press, the latest endeavour of Pom Pom Quarterly. It was released nearly a month ago and I am so pleased and overwhelmed to call it my own. That's right! My very first book in partnership with Pom Pom. We've been working together on this project for the last ten months and it's finally in the hands of many readers and knitters. Take Heart is my first collection of ten new accessories for fall and winter. Head over to Pom Pom's blog, they have a much more eloquent and detailed description of Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting Journey

Along with ten new designs, I also decided to included Take Heart, my first published pattern. At the time the definition behind Take Heart,'to be encouraged, to be brave', was a fitting title for this project. In this book you'll get a glimpse into how I started knitting and how it led me to London, where I am today. It's been an intense and educational journey putting this book together. I've been striving and struggling with various new experiences while trying to defeat old insecurities. Once again, 'Take Heart' was an appropriate name for this new collection. 

Take Heart - Toft Aran Alpaca

Take Heart - Toft Aran Alpaca

Since I had to keep this project under wraps, I felt as if my posts and photos of my knitting were barely non-existent. If you follow me on Instagram, you may recall seeing the occasional picture of yarn. I am very thankful to have had the support of each company featured in the book. These are all blends and colours I admire and I hope you do as well. 

It's also been overwhelming to see the support from the knitting community. Many knitters and yarn shops were anticipating the release of Take Heart, once Pom Pom and I started to divulge what we had been up to. A few have already finished projects from the collection and it's a joy to start seeing them pop up on Instagram and Ravelry. Many reviews by various bloggers have started to flow in as well. Please feel free to share your thoughts on Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting Journey with me. Some of the reviews that I do know of can be found with links on my 'Press' page. All of the pieces can also be viewed on Ravelry

Photo Credit: @pompommag

Photo Credit: @pompommag

Photo Credit: @ayarnstory

Photo Credit: @ayarnstory

Photo Credit: @hannahschm

Photo Credit: @hannahschm

Photo Credit: @88stitchesyarnshop

Photo Credit: @88stitchesyarnshop

Photo Credit: @maryambutt2940

Photo Credit: @maryambutt2940

Photo Credit: @linaknits

Photo Credit: @linaknits

If you're looking to get your hands on a copy, head over to Pom Pom,  to order directly from them. There's always an option of a PDF version too, if you'd prefer. Ask your local yarn shop to see if they are stocking it. Take Heart has been available in shops around the UK since Christmas and it's just started to make an appearance in Canadian yarn shops. If you're in London, stop by Loop and you just might catch me on the shop floor. Pick up a copy and say hello! 

Castle Bay - Handmaiden Lady Godiva

Castle Bay - Handmaiden Lady Godiva