21 Mar 2017

First Day of Spring!


I remember laughing as a child listening to the UK comedian Spike Milligan reciting a short poem about Spring:

Spring has sprung
The grass has ris
I wonder where the birdies is?

They say the bird is on the wing
But that's absurd - 
The wing is on the bird!

I'm sure he didn't write it, but I was thinking about that the other day when an absolute flock of American Robins came into our back garden and filled the trees with song. They flew industriously backwards and forwards to three large palm trees that were laden with ripe palm nuts. Two were in our neighbour's garden and one high up in the woodlands behind us.

They would fly rapidly towards the low flower heads dripping with their tasty morsels, then grab a palm nut and zoom back to the original perch, singing at the tops of their voices all the time. How they did that with their beaks full of palm nuts beats me! 

This continued for about an hour until a hawk appeared nearby and they all left in one dense cloud, with just one or two gentle peep-peep sounds as they continued on their migration north.



And that's about as close as we get to seeing Spring here in Florida. I'm afraid it's not the right climate for daffodils, and even cherry trees have a hard time here. However, we did manage to see some beautiful azaleas at Bok Gardens near Orlando the other day.

I hope you are lucky enough to have daffodils in your back garden today to welcome the First day of Spring. If you haven't, then here's a couple of photos to bring a touch of Spring to you!

Happy Spring knitting!

Moira



Many thanks again to DH Tim for his great photos. If you'd like to see more of his work, then please visit his Flick page.


Last blogpost: Is it a bird or is it a plane?







. 22/3/17

20 Mar 2017

Is it a bird or is it a plane?


I'm back! Sorry that I have been away from my blog for so long. I needed a small operation which kept me away from my computer for a while and completely zapped me of energy. However it all went very well, I am very pleased to report.

Fortunately, it didn't stop me knitting for long and I have been having fun finishing up some projects that just needed a bit more love and attention. The first of these was a scarf made from the Hamilton Table Runner pattern.



Yes, I hear you - a pattern for a table runner? But when you think about it, there's not much difference between them, is there. They are both long rectangular objects and the size might only need a little bit of adjusting to get it to work well for a scarf instead. 

The real difference comes from the yarn being used. For a table runner you want the yarn to be fairly firm and crisp to hold its shape well and provide some insulation to the table. A matte finish is also preferable so the runner is quietly present without dominating the look of the room. So the ideal yarn would probably be a cotton or a cotton/linen mix such as the KnitPicks CotLin yarn I used for the original pattern.


Knit Picks yarns. L: Cotlin in Pomegranate, R: Galileo in Quartz.
But a scarf? Well almost the opposite! This needs to be soft and draping so it can flow easily around your neck without chafing. When I was purchasing the yarn for the original Hamilton Table Runner, I was also drawn to another KnitPicks yarn, Galileo, in a deep red colour called Quartz. This is a beautifully soft yarn with a lovely combination of merino wool and bamboo. 

I don't like using silk itself because I always feel so sorry for the silkworms but this yarn just feels, well, silky! It's buttery soft with a beautiful depth of colour - perfect for an evening shawl. (And no, I don't get any commission from KnitPicks - I just like their yarns!)

I started this about a year ago before consigning it to the knitting basket waiting to be finished. Well, I decided that it had sat and languished for long enough, so I picked it up again and happily knitted away until it was done.



In fact, I was actually enjoying the pattern so much that I only stopped when I ran out of yarn. Fortunately the finished scarf is not too long! Thank heavens I didn't buy extra yarn or I might have regretted it. 

Have you ever done that? Been so enjoying knitting a pattern that you continued on too long? I found I wanted to "just knit one more diamond shape" and was quite disappointed when the yarn supply failed on me. This is the Elongated Diamond Pattern from our new E-Book, Reversible Knitting Stitches, and is a lovely double-sided stitch. 

Well, now I can see I will need to knit another scarf. Hmmm, I could see this in a beautiful silver-grey colour....

If you'd like to see more details about the Hamilton Table Runner pattern, then please visit my website

Until next time,

Happy Knitting!










. 21/3/17

5 Jan 2017

Love these colours


I love seeing hanks of yarn ready washed and waiting to be swatched! This is Knit Picks Cotlin yarn, which is a great blend of (you guessed it!) cotton and linen. 


I used this yarn in the Hamilton Table Runner pattern last year and loved the way it came out. The yarn really showed the stitch definition beautifully. 

For the table runner I used a deep red colour, Pomegranate.


However, this time I have chosen a pretty set of fresh Spring colours to try.

They are (L to R): Swan, Linen, Conch, Sagebrush, Hydrangea and Surf.

I'll post some more photos once I have wound them up and made a start! And if you'd like to know why I always pre-wash my yarns, then have a look at this blogpost from the BYOB Market Bag Knit-along.

Happy Knitting!

Moira










. 20/3/17

24 Dec 2016

Winter Light


There's something magical about the light at this time of the year. Perhaps it's the angle at which it falls, or the fact that you can already detect that the evenings are starting to get a little longer.


Today, there's been a wonderful mix of sun and cloud. Bright blue skies one minute, scudding clouds the next.


Then as the sun began to set, the yellows and reds bathed everything in a warm amber glow, picking out the edges of the leaves along the shoreline.


The clouds returned in time for a wonderful sunset with reds, yellows and oranges reflected in the waters of Little Sarasota Bay.


We walked back through Spanish Point and took the side path to Mary's Chapel which was beautifully decorated both inside and out.


I sat and knitted on a bench in front of the chapel while Tim took photos, the lights twinkling brighter as the sunset faded behind me.

The end of a beautiful walk in this magical part of the world.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas!

Moira


Many thanks once again to my husband Tim for his wonderful photos. See more of his work on his Flickr site. Photos taken in and around Historic Spanish Point, Sarasota.





. 24/12/16

19 Dec 2016

What's on the other side?


Yesterday, I blogged about three patterns, all quick to knit and all using the same chunky yarn, DMC Natura XL. However, there was something else that was the same about all of them: all the stitches were drawn from our new Reversible Knitting Stitches E-Book. So I thought I would talk about these three stitch patterns and why we chose them for these projects.

The first pattern I showed yesterday was the Malvern Spa Pillow and Mitt. These are worked in a variation of Hatfield Check, one of my favourite reversible knit stitches. The stitch is an easy one to work and gives a wonderfully textural result. It has a good amount of stretch, which is important for something like a tightly-fitting spa pillow cover. It also has a most interesting surface texture which produces a very good massaging effect in the spa mitt, so is a good combination for the set.


The second pattern featured in the blogpost was the Malvern Bath Mat, a soft and luxurious bath mat which just soaks up the water when you step onto it after a relaxing bath or shower. The softness comes partly from the yarn, of course, but is also due to the qualities of the stitch, Quaker Ridging. This alternates thick and thin ridged stripes giving a lovely depth to the fabric, so it is soft and squidgy to step onto.

It can look great when worked in a striped pattern, as in the bath mat here, but I like it also in a single colour which seems to emphasise the dynamic nature of the pattern. 


The last of the three featured patterns was Anna's Shelbourne Spa Towels. These are worked in an intriguing reversible stitch called Diamond Brocade, which has an interesting interplay of different-sized diamonds. This gives the design a very modern feel. 

I like the fact that the two sides look so different. The right side has strongly accented diamond shapes and the wrong side has a lovely honey-comb appearance. Apart from just appearances, though, this deep texture makes the towels absorbent and soft to use.


If you would like to read more about the Reversible Knitting Stitches E-Book, then please go to my website. The book features 200 different reversible stitch patterns and also includes over 50 project photos to show how the stitches can be used for your next project.

The E-Book is available in a number of different formats, so you can download this for iBooks, Kindle or as a pdf version for viewing on your computer.

Good luck with your last-minute Christmas knitting!

Moira


Next Up: Winter Light






. 24/12/16

18 Dec 2016

Mission Impossible Knitting


You wake and see the calendar on the wall - how can it be only 1 week before Christmas? You sit at your favourite table and gaze blankly into space. You have been knitting like crazy for ages and there's a lovely scarf for your Dad and even Uncle Bertie has a hat with a rather interesting pom-pom on the top. But, there's still Aunt Winnie and your Mum... And now there's only 1 week to go.

You rest your head in your hands then idly pick up a knitting needle. But there's something odd about it - it's larger than you usually use. And now your fingerprint has activated it, sending a beam of light towards the wall. You watch as flashing images show first the calendar you spotted earlier, then a series of photos of knitted items being finished in a flash and wrapped just in time. Then you hear the Secretary's voice:

"Agent Knitter - your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to complete all your knitting projects in only 1 week! This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds."

The knitting needle smoulders and vanishes and you realise the answer. 
You have the ultimate secret weapon - chunky yarn.


You dive into your stash and find some fabulous chunky cotton yarn you purchased a year ago and you're off. Shortly afterwards, you watch astonished as first one item then another is completed.

Your other half gingerly steps into the knitting room with a cup of tea and a reinforcing mince pie on a plate and stands in awe at the growing pile of items waiting to be blocked and finished. 


Then as the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, you tie the ribbon around the wrapped presents and retire to bed. You were successful! You are, indeed, a member of the Impossible Knitting Force, the IKF.

And yes, I have just been watching the whole series of Mission Impossible, how can you tell!

The patterns shown in the photographs are:


Top: A new pattern, the Malvern Spa Pillow and Mitt. These are quick to make and easy to finish. They would make a great present by themselves or packaged together with some herbal soaps or bath essences.


Middle: Another new pattern, the Malvern Bath Mat. This comes in 3 sizes for a shower/wash basin, bath tub or larger dressing room size. The small size only uses 2 balls of each colour and works up very quickly.


Lower Photo: These are wonderfully soft and absorbent towels, the Shelbourne Spa Towels by Anna Ravenscroft. These also use only 2 balls of yarn each, so are quick to make and have a lovely texture on each side.

And a second secret weapon you can use here - these are all from the same yarn! This is DMC Natura XL "Just Cotton", an absolutely fabulous yarn that is soft, easy to knit with and available in a wonderful range of colours (30 at the time of writing!) Of course, any chunky cotton yarn would work for this mission, but if you can get the Natura XL you won't be disappointed.

So go for it, Agent Knitter! You can still do it!

Happy Knitting!

Moira






[and by the way, all 3 of these knitting patterns use stitches taken from this E-Book!]




. 18/12/16 

1 Dec 2016

Tick, tick, tick...


December is upon us! I can't believe how this year is speeding past. If that makes you fret because you haven't finished all the items you want to make for presents, then don't worry - there is still plenty of time for some great Holiday knitting. 

So I am going to write a series of blogposts with some ideas for items you can start right away. Today, I'm going to feature three small items that are quick to make and light to post.



The first one is one of Anna's patterns, the Apple Pocket. I use these knitted phone covers all the time and find that they really hug your phone well. 

There are two versions included in the pattern - a slim-line case that easily fits into your pocket or a slightly thicker version which gives some extra padding. 

For more details about the Apple Pocket pattern, please see Anna's website.



The second idea is for some bracelets made in i-Cord in a zingy cotton yarn. The Ryedale Bracelets are worked in the style of the ever-popular paracord bracelets and are fastened with easy-to-use side release buckles. They would make wonderful presents for teenagers but are also useful for medical alert bracelets.

I also use mine as a holder for my spare double-pointed needle when I am knitting socks. It's always useful to have an easy place to store your spare needle while you count stitches!

The i-Cord can even be produced using a cord knitter, so this is a quick project to complete. For more details about the Ryedale Bracelet, please see my website.


And the last idea today are these super-cute lavender sachets. This is another of Anna's patterns, Lavender Fish. They can be worked in a single colour or with bands or stripes, as in the photo above. Make a few to hang on clothes hangers or slip into a clothes drawer. These would make a lovely gift by themselves but could also be paired with a block of hand-made lavender soap or lotion for a gift set.

To see more details of the Lavender Fish pattern, please see Anna's website.

Have fun making some of these lovely gift ideas. Next time, I'll have a look at some fun ideas for knitted bathroom accessories.

Happy Knitting!

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