12 Dec 2017

It's all about the 12's - December Sale

I have spent the day musing on the number 12. Today is the 12th of December and it's one of the twelve times in the year when the way I write a date is the same as the way my American pals would write it! Yesterday, for example, was 11/12/17 to me, but most of the folks around me would say that day was a month ago (Nov 12th)! However, today is 12/12/17 for both of us.

So I started thinking about the number 12 and found some really interesting facts: Did you know that 12 is the smallest number that can be divided by 6 numbers? (ie 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12.) 

Maybe that's one of the reasons we use 12 for so many things. It is easy to package half a dozen eggs, for example. Much harder to package up half a count of 10.

When we had 12 pence (12d) to the shilling in the UK, then sweets could be sold as so many per shilling so you could easy buy a quarter or half of the amount. So much harder with decimal.

Twelve is one of those numbers that just seems easy to work with and to understand - a number that just comes "naturally". 

When we were looking through the stitch patterns for our Reversible Knitting Stitches book, for example, we sorted the samples into categories and very early on in the process found that we had 12 of them. 

It just felt "right", so we went ahead and set up 12 chapters.

So, I am going to post a series of 12 blogposts over the next 12 days, each one featuring a stitch from the book and showing a knitting pattern where the stitch has been used. 

And to celebrate this series of knitting patterns, we are going to be offering 12% off all the featured patterns from now until Twelfth Night (5th Jan 2018)!

Today's stitch pattern is, appropriately, from Chapter 12 and is called Crossed Rib

Reversible cable patterns are very beautiful and are usually worked by cabling a 1x1 rib. The single rib closes up so that it almost looks like Stocking Stitch but if you gently stretch it sideways you will see the base rib structure.

However, the problem comes when you try to twist the ribs to form a cable. In a number of reversible cable patterns, the cables end up being very bulky and unsatisfactory. However, in Crossed Rib the stitches on the front face are twisted separately from the ones on the back. This gives a much smoother finish. 

In the book, we have given directions for two versions: one where the cable is seen on both sides, and the other which just has the cabling on the front face. I have used the 2nd form in the Verwood Cushions pattern above. 

In the cushions, I modified the pattern a little bit so that the cables are slightly separated by intermediate ribs. This gives a lovely result with the cable nestled down between the soft ribs, giving an attractive and very comfortable finish - just perfect for a winter cushion.

To read more about the Verwood Cushions pattern, please click here. Then add the code:


at checkout to get 12% off the pattern from now until Twelfth Night, 5th Jan 2018.

To read more about our the Reversible Knitting Stitches book, please click here. The book is available as an E-Book, a print book or as a Print and Digital package.

Until tomorrow,

Happy Reversible Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Books and Birthdays

Our Book: Reversible Knitting Stitches

My Website: www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com
Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 13/12/17

1 Dec 2017

Books & Birthdays

There have been a lot of exciting things happening recently. 

Firstly, the printed version of our new book, Reversible Knitting Stitches, arrived from the printers and proved to be everything that we hoped it would be. 

Then we worked on a new edition of the E-book to update it with all the crisp new stitch charts that we had drawn up for the print version and were thrilled to see the improvements such a simple change could make. 

And now we are rapidly approaching my birthday which happens to be one of those significant ones with a ‘5’ at the end! Oh yes, lots to celebrate!

So let me give you some details on all our recent excitements: You know, I still keep pinching myself when I see the printed Reversible Knitting Stitches book sitting there on the shelf right next to my favourite knitting books! I can’t believe the company we’re keeping...

The printers did a fabulous job with producing this book. They are based in Cambridgeshire in the UK and are recognised for their strong environmental ethic and use of sustainably sourced paper. 

We are, therefore, very proud that they have given us permission to display the Forest Stewardship Council/ FSC logo on all our books. That means a lot to us.

And we learned so much in producing the print book - not least of which was discovering the beauty of vector diagrams. I wrote about this here, and I still can’t believe I had never heard about them before but now I’m a convert! They’re so crisp and clear - and take so much less file space too. 

So we felt we absolutely had to introduce these into our E-book. Gosh, what a difference! The charts are so crystal clear now, even if you zoom right in on your phone or iPad. 

We also changed the page format to be a little deeper which gives more space for the complex charts. The new version also has full keyword searching and bookmarks for easy navigation. And all this with a much smaller file! Life is good.

And Birthdays! Well I’d like to say it’s my 25th, but with a daughter older than that I don’t suppose anyone would believe me! However, please put your party hats on for my 25th-again-birthday on Dec 2nd!

The photo above was taken at Stourhead in Wiltshire, UK two days ago - and if you haven't been there it's a magical place to visit at any time of the year.

Please click here to read more about Reversible Knitting Stitches:
our new Print book, E-book and special Print and Digital Package!

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: It's knitting time!

Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

Many thanks to Tim for his great photos. If you would like to see more of his work, these please visit his site.

. 12/12/17

28 Oct 2017

It's knitting time

I love our itinerant lifestyle - always on the move, never staying still for long. Recently our travels took us through the mountains of North Carolina, a place that is very dear to our hearts. It was the first state we lived in when we moved to the USA and it still feels like home in many ways. 

One thing that still strikes us afresh each time we visit though is the quality of the light. The air seems clearer here, the skies more blue, the colours more intense.

So it was that one early morning saw me sitting on a sun-warmed rock by the side of the Blue Ridge Parkway. My husband Tim was at the far-side of the area taking photos of the hazy distant views. Three birds were calling to each other, first one in the tree near me then two replies from further away. 

Everywhere was still and calm. A thin column of steam rose from the valley floor into the air and the mists moved lazily in the dips and hollows between the lower hills.

A slightly chilly breeze reminded me that we were at 5000' and I wrapped my scarf a little tighter around my neck to keep warm. 

The wind was not uncomfortably cold but it did serve as a timely reminder that autumn is upon us and the snow will not be far behind. You could feel it in the air that morning as clearly as if another few pages of the calendar had just turned over all at once. 

I looked down at my knitting, which had been sitting idly in my hands while I gazed at the scene and started the next row with a renewed sense of purpose.

It's knitting time...

Happy autumn knitting!


Last Blogpost: Hot off the press!
Next Up: Books and Birthdays

Our Book: Reversible Knitting Stitches
Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

Many thanks to Tim to his great photos. If you would like to see more of his work, these please visit his site.

. 01/12/17

10 Oct 2017

Hot off the press!

Gosh, I can't believe it, but I actually have the proof copy of our new book Reversible Knitting Stitches right here on the desk next to me! I have to say both Anna are I are so excited to see this in print and we have both been so encouraged to read all the messages everyone has been sending us about the book. 

It has certainly been a long process getting this into print with so many new things to learn. At times I was sure I could hear a whooshing sound as yet another new concept went flying over my head!

The first sentence of the printer's instructions which mentioned vector diagrams, CMYK colour rendition and PDFX1a files was one of those moments, I have to say. I didn't even know what vector diagrams were until that point. Oh you don't either? Oh good, that makes me feel tonnes better.

As I discovered, they're the difference between seeing a fuzzy picture like the one on the left and a crisp clear one as on the right. Well, I'm pleased to say that now I have drawn up more than 250 vector diagrams for stitch charts and keys I can certainly understand the distinction!

Still, printer's lingo, paper choices and all other decisions are made and we're good to go! We hope to have the print run scheduled shortly and then we should have the first copies in our hands a week or so after that.

The books are being printed in Cambridgeshire so we should be able to fulfill UK and European orders fairly quickly. There will be a short extra delay until the US boxes arrive, but as soon as those arrive in the States then I will be able to get those mailed out. 

I have an e-mail list of people who want me to notify them as soon as the books are ready to ship, so please feel free to contact me if you'd like to be added to the list. 

I'll post here again once we have opened up the pre-order page, and until then,

Happy Reversible Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Two new beanie hats!

Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 1/11/17

26 Sep 2017

Two new beanie hats!

We had our first Frost Warning yesterday, prefacing the inexorable slide into winter here in Massachusetts. I don’t know why it always comes as a surprise but every year there seems to be one week when we have the air conditioning running and then the next we are wondering whether we should put the heating on! 

Mind you, it is quite clear that the colder weather is coming — the squirrels and chipmunks are dashing around as though this might be the last day they can gather acorns and fruit without burrowing under the snow, and any strong breeze is accompanied by an absolute confetti shower of yellow leaves.

Well, it might be chilly outside but Autumn always gives me a renewed sense of purpose. After all, the items I am knitting now will be keeping somebody warm in just a few days’ time!

I have been knitting hats recently and have two new styles that I have just uploaded to my pattern collection. The first of these is the Northstowe Beanie Hat. This is a man’s beanie-style hat with a wonderfully rugged outdoor look. It features strong textural details, with a wide rib pattern intersected by narrow garter stitch bands.

The pattern includes three sizes, from Medium to Extra Large, and the samples I have worked are in a fashion-forward graphite colour or a rich blue to team with jeans. I have used the Socks Yeah DK yarn I discovered on my recent UK trip for this hat, but any similar DK yarn could be used instead. The hats are worked with two strands of yarn held together and this really gives a chill-beating finish.

The 2nd hat is a ladies’ beanie, the Madingley Beanie Hat. This has extra textural detailing with a wonderful double-banded rib patternThis is a variation of Hatfield Check from our E-Book, Reversible Knitting Stitches and I will be posting some more info about the print version of this book next time!

The hat has a lovely comfortable fit and the stitch pattern gives it that extra feminine touch. It would be perfect for your morning commute to the office or to college, but would also be great for a long country walk kicking up the autumn leaves.

The Madingley Beanie pattern also includes three sizes, and I have worked the samples in a gorgeous silvery grey shade and a turquoise — which I see from the Fall catwalk shows is this year’s go-to colour!

The Northstowe and Madingley hats co-ordinate very well with each other so if you fancy a stroll in the woods with your loved one by your side, then you can both wear your new hats and look the loving couple that you are. He could also wear the Teversham Cowl that I wrote about last time as it is worked in the same yarn.

To see more details about these new designs, please see my website. The download link includes both hats as stand-alone patterns so you can work on just one hat or both as you prefer.

I am enjoying working on this mix-and-match set of items and have plans for some scarves next. I haven’t started those yet but will post here when I have them ready. For more details about all the patterns in this collection please see my website.

Until next time - Keep Warm!


Anna’s Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 26/9/17

15 Aug 2017

Teversham Cowl and Headwarmer

It's great when serendipity changes your plans, at least where knitting is concerned. In my last blogpost I was recounting the story of what happens when you discover a new wool shop with a treasure trove of yarns. That was how I discovered a new-to-me merino-mix yarn in a lovely colour pallette, Socks Yeah DK. I was especially taken with the combination of a soft graphite colour and a lighter silver grey. 

I walked around the store for a while with a skein of both in my hands and then decided it was perfect for a man's cowl. Later on I decided that I should have purchased more as it proved so good I wanted to make a ladies' headwarmer too, as a mix-and-match set.

I remember reading a newspaper article earlier this year about a Japanese couple who like to wear co-ordinating clothes and accessories every day and have done so for 37 years! However, they are not alone. Many young couples in Korea and Japan like to demonstrate their love by couple-dressing. Indeed, sometimes it has even become a subtle way of announcing that they are actually now a couple - much like the wonderful "in a relationship" announcement on Facebook. 

So I decided that I would make some mix-and-match sets for both men and women and here is the first of these: the Teversham Cowl and Headwarmer.

Men's cowls are hot fashion items right now - understandably since they are so easy to put on and provide instant warmth just where you need it. Cowls are great for stopping those chilly draughts that seem to find the gap at the back of your collar or that annoying cold spot where your jacket doesn't quite close at the front. 

They are so easy to slip on, don't flap around like a scarf does when you are cycling, and are small enough to stuff into a shoulder bag when you get to the other end of your journey. Just perfect for these end-of-season days when a small change in the wind direction can take the temperature down 20 degrees.

The Teversham Cowl uses a reversible stitch from our e-book Reversible Knitting Stitches and this gives this cowl another great advantage - you don't have to be especially careful when putting it on since both sides look good.

I loved the way the colours worked for the cowl and was quite sad when I finished it so quickly. So I immediately cast-on a smaller number of stitches and made a matching headwarmer. Gosh this is cozy! I always find my ears are the first things that get cold in the autumn and this headwarmer works perfectly to give that lovely extra feeling of warmth around the head without the bulk of a full knitted hat.

If you are lucky enough to have long hair then you'll also appreciate the open top so you don't smush your hair-style while wearing this. I used to love having long hair and still remember the joy of finding head-gear that worked well with pony-tails and plaits.

So here's the first of these couple sets - a gorgeous fashion-forward men's cowl and a cozy ladies' headwarmer. I suppose there might even be a few ladies who would like to wear the cowl themselves, but I won't tell if you don't!

To see more details about the Teversham Cowl and Headwarmer knitting pattern, please click here. The pattern is available in both UK and US formats for printing onto A4 or letter-sized paper or can be viewed on your computer, tablet or phone.

Next time, a set of hats for him, her or them.

Until then - keep warm!


Last Blogpost: Daughter to the rescue
Next Up: Two new beanie hats!

Our new E-Book: Reversible Knitting Stitches

My Website: www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com
Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

. 4/10/17

20 Jul 2017

Daughter to the rescue

I am currently listening to an audiobook by Elizabeth Peters in which the redoubtable lady Egyptologist Amelia Peabody Emerson frequently says "I am the most fortunate of women!" 

Well, I suppose that could be my catch-phrase too. In my last blogpost, I recounted the sorry tale of what happens when a full cup of airline tea soaks into a large amount of cotton-yak yarn. The result, I am sure you can imagine, was not pleasant. 

Under normal circumstances this could have induced a degree of panic - arriving at the start of a long visit with no knitting on hand... However, our first port of call on arriving in the UK was to our daughter, Anna, and she is blessed with a wide and varied yarn stash, filling not just a few boxes but a whole room! 

She listened to my tale of woe and supplied the two things I needed - a fresh cup of tea (I had, after all, spilled the last one!), and a pointer as to where I might find some suitable replacement yarn amongst all her baskets and boxes. I settled on a beautiful combination of greys and by the afternoon was happily swatching for a cowl.

We then went down to a knitting store in Faversham, Kent to purchase some additional supplies. Neither of us had been to this shop before but it was an absolute treasure. 

The store is called The Yarn Dispensary and is right in the middle of this beautiful old town. They were kind enough to allow my husband to take some photos in the store so you can see what a great selection of yarn they have. The building dates from the 13C and used to be an old pharmacy. Now instead of liver pills they dispense yarn therapy! 

The central square of the town is used for a thriving market under the famous Guildhall building, and there are many other wonderful old houses in the area such as the one above which is just around the corner.

The yarn I settled on was a beautiful merino mix from CoopKnits, called Socks Yeah DK and it is a dream to work with. In fact I loved it so much that when I returned to the USA, I ordered some more and am now happily knitting up a storm with this fabulously cozy yarn.

I'll post some information about the first few items from this yarn next time.

And if you'd like to see some of the wonderful items Anna makes with her room-full of yarn, then head over to her new website, www.kikuknits.com.

Until next time - Happy Knitting!


Anna's website: www.kikuknits.com

Many thanks again to Tim for his great photos. See more on his Flickr site here.

. 16/9/17


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