7 Feb 2019

Love this time of year


It's been so cold outside this year that I think most of us have felt like hibernating in front of a warm fire and not emerging until Spring! However I don't know about you, but I always find there's something about the chilly weather that really makes me want to take up my knitting needles and start work.

There's a sense of purpose.
An acknowledgement that every stitch will soon be keeping someone warm. 

So one of my favourite activities at this time of the year is to look through stitch books and design lots of new things to knit in the days ahead. Then comes the equally fun part of deciding on yarns – warm yarns to take you from the icy blasts of winter through to the Spring, then some airy cottons for those first warm days. 

So that's what I have been doing for the last couple of weeks, and now I am just waiting for the yarn to arrive! In the meantime, I have been having a dig through my WIP (Work In Progress) basket. I don't know why I am always surprised at how many items are in there but it always seems to be a goodly number. I had a bit of an archeological dig last year, but the collection seems larger than ever now. 


A number of them are waiting for just one seam to be sewn up, or a button to be added, or to finish that row where the needle broke and I put the scarf down. Hmmm, that last project only needed a few more rows! I continually astound myself with my weak excuses.

Also in that same basket are projects needing a little bit of care. The photo at the top of this post, for example, shows a small repair needed on a scarf I made a few years ago, the Elizabeth Scarf. This is a reversible scarf using a stitch pattern from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches, and you can read more about the book here.

I caught the scarf on a fence post a while ago and made a small hole, but then put it aside to make sure it didn't start to unravel. So, I am going to make myself a cup of tea then sit in front of the fire and finish that off. It will be good to have it back and useable again...

Until next time,

Happy Knitting!

Moira







28 Jan 2019

New pattern – Westernesse Bag


I have a new bag pattern! This is the Westernesse Bag and it's a duffle-bag style with lots of space to take everything you need for a day in the country.

The colour was inspired by a walk we took around a lake in Sweden last autumn-time. The leaves had just started turning colour but already they were carpeting the walkways and drifting slowly past us as we walked. By the time we returned to our car, the sun was low in the skies and just set the colours aflame.


I was carrying one of my favourite bags at the time, a roomy canvas hold-all with a single shoulder strap. This seemed like the perfect model for a new knitted bag. 

I like the ease of a single shoulder strap. Easy to pick up, easy to throw over your shoulder, simple to slip off when you get to the far side of the lake and want to sit for a while. The one here is worked in Moss Stitch and is a tube with a fabric band inside for extra strength.


For the body of the bag, I chose the Double Moss Stitch pattern from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches, adding an extra repeat to enhance the textural qualities of the stitch. This really emphasised the colour bands, giving a strongly graphical result.


I then lined the bag with a Waverley cotton fabric. I had forgotten how much I enjoy sewing! I don't sew much these days but it was fun getting the sewing machine out again, and even more fun getting the fluff out of the mechanism so it would actually work. You can read all about that incredible feat here!

The cotton liner was simple to make and I love the fabric I found. This one has words scripted in French – just perfect for a bag I'm going to use when exploring new places.


I finished the bag by adding a plaited drawstring which runs through the top section to draw it together. I had intended adding a cord lock to keep the cords closed, but in the end I liked it just with a simple tie so left it like that. 

Then as a final touch I sewed on a large button made from coconut, with a simple cord loop closure. Perfect. Now, where shall we go for a walk next.... I'm thinking maybe it's time to go back to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. It's ages since we were last there.

If you would like more details about the Westernesse Bag, then please click here

The pattern is also available on Loveknitting, where you can also find the yarn that I used, Lang Merino+.

Until next time - Happy Knitting!

Moira



Last Blogpost: Astonishing Day

14 Jan 2019

Astonishing day



There are days when I truly astonish myself.

What did I do that was so amazing, you ask? Well... drum roll... I fixed a sewing machine!!! OK, you can stop laughing now, but this happens to be the first time I have ever accomplished this feat. 

I had recently finished making a skirt and all had gone well. Even a dreaded buttonhole or two had gone without a hitch. However, today was different. I started the machine only to be greeted by a horrible clattering noise! The thread was firmly jammed under the feeder plate. 

I snipped away at the tangle until I managed to pull it free and remove the small cut threads. I started again, very gently, only to be greeted by another loud clunking sound and another jam... This time I could not remove the trapped fabric without cutting it away. Thank goodness I was working with an oddment and not the final fabric!


OK, I thought. I’ll lift off the feeder plate and then I can get to the trapped threads. I’ve done that before so didn’t feel phased by the prospect. However, it became clear that the culprit was a large build-up of fluff in what the handbook told me was the “spool holder”. 

Apparently I was supposed to clean this on a regular basis! Well, dust bunnies and I are old friends and the idea of stripping down a sewing machine to remove fluff build-up had never occurred to me before. 

Did you know you were supposed to do this? It was certainly news to me but then I suppose I can’t actually remember ever reading the instructions so it’s not surprising I hadn’t stumbled upon this piece of information before...



The manual talked about turning the handle until various rotating parts lined up, then removing the spool holder assembly and cleaning underneath. I gulped, then started removing parts until there seemed quite a collection. 

By now, I was feeling alarmed and wondering just how many of these would go back where they came from! 


However, 15 minutes later the spool holder was removed to reveal a good-sized pile of fluff inside. That was quickly removed so all I had to do now was reassemble it all...

I took a deep breath and before much longer all parts were back in again. Phew! 


Well, I expect by now those folks with an engineering bent will be laughing themselves silly, but it felt like a major step for me! My first (successful) taking apart of a sewing machine.


I plugged it in, turned it on and prepared to sew the sample again. A quiet purr came from my new happy machine and a perfect seam formed without a single snag or clunk.

Mission accomplished! Let the sewing commence!

Until next time,

Happy Knitting,

Moira


24 Dec 2018

Happy Christmas everyone!


The year is rapidly drawing to a close! Gosh, it only seems five minutes since it started. I expect that means I've been keeping busy...

We've certainly been doing a lot of travelling recently. After a couple of years when we travelled very little, we've been catching up in a big way with trips to the UK, Sweden and Japan only a few weeks apart. It's hard to know what time-zone we're working in right now!


Still, I've been busy knitting while we've been on the road and will be getting patterns written up as soon as I can gather all the notes together. The scarf above is the Karlskrona Scarf. I designed this as a man's scarf but have to admit, I wore it a lot myself while we were in Japan. It's super cozy.

My DH Tim photographed it for me while we were there and I love this shot of his with it wrapped around a window. This is Enkō-ji temple in the North of Kyoto – a wonderfully quiet place with an open view onto the maple garden. We were there just at the start of the autumn season and the leaves were turning to amazing shades of orange and red.


I have also been working on the bag I was reporting in my last blogpost, which was inspired by the colours we saw when we were in Sweden. We have been so lucky to catch autumn in 3 different countries this year!

However, the colours in Sweden were something special, with such rich yellows and oranges everywhere. So inspiring! I have actually knitted this bag about three times over as I keep getting about 2/3 of the way up to the top and then deciding I could do something better and then ripping it out again. Well, you get more enjoyment per gm of knitting yarn that way don't you! (Ways to think positively while undoing several hours of work ....)

It's now done and I just need to add a lining and it will be completed. However, I need to put that down now and start work on making some mince pies for tomorrow!

So, here's wishing you all a very Happy Christmas/Holiday season and hope that you have a wonderful time with your families. 

Happy Knitting!

Moira


Last Blogpost: And the results are in!
Next Up: Astonishing Day






. 20/1/19

31 Oct 2018

And the results are in!


Yes, the results are in! Not of the US Mid-term elections, but of my experiments with reflective yarn. In my last blogpost, I was talking about the problems of being seen when out walking or running now that the nights are drawing in. So I have been testing some RetroGlo yarn and have been trying various techniques to incorporate some of this into my knitting. 

And the results are that it works brilliantly (pun intended...!) Or rather, when it works, it's great. I first tried using the reflective yarn by duplicate stitching it into the ends of a scarf but I found that it made the scarf a little heavy and rough where I had added the thread. 

I then tried knitting with one strand of yarn and one of the reflective thread. However, it wasn't particularly effective since the thread tended to bury itself into the soft knitting stitches and did not glow as I really wanted it to. Also, I found that did not enjoy knitting with the reflective thread running alongside my regular yarn as the yarns are so dissimilar. 


However, I was more successful using it on a pocket for a backpack. I am working this in Lang Merino+ yarn using a two-tone grey with orange and yellow highlights. The RetroGlo yarn was almost a perfect match to the lighter grey yarn and can hardly be seen when viewed in the day-time.


However, as the lights go down the thread just catches the light and bounces it back at you.


But the real test is what it looks like at night. Then it can be seen as a series of brilliant dots which shine straight back at the source of light, such as a car's headlights. As the light moves a little to the left or right, the pattern of visible dots also changes slightly so they almost seem to flash and move. Amazing!

It has certainly been an interesting experiment so far and of course there may be other reflective yarns that could be worked directly into a pattern. I saw some interesting yarn by Viking Yarns when I was in Sweden recently, for example, so I may give that a try too. 

Do let me know if you have tried reflective yarn in your knitting and what worked for you and what didn't. I'd love to hear your ideas.

Happy Knitting!

Moira


Last Blogpost: Reflecting the Light

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





. 24/12/18

10 Oct 2018

Reflecting the light


There were two things that really made an impression upon me when we visited Sweden recently. One was just how breathtakingly beautiful it is, with pale blue skies, distant vistas and seemingly endless lakes and waterways.

The other was how quickly the nights were drawing in. You could feel it, like a blanket quietly being lowered over the landscape. Each day was just a little bit shorter than it had been the week before. 



Of course this is not surprising, since it hardly goes dark in mid-summer but there is only 4 hours of daylight in the winter! However, it does mean that almost everything you do outside will be in the dark. Your morning commute to work, a walk to the post office, an afternoon trip to the shops... Chances are you will be walking or cycling in low-light conditions for at least some or all of these excursions.

So I have been thinking about how to be visible at night. I saw a video recently with a series of runners gradually coming closer. The people with a number of reflective patches and lines almost outlining their bodies could be seen from a long distance, the reflective material glowing in the headlights of the approaching car. However, the runners just wearing light-coloured clothing were barely visible until they were only a few feet away.



And of course this applies not only runners, but anyone out at night – walkers, cyclists, children and commuters. The problem is that most Hi-Vis clothing is generally quite cumbersome and an extra item to carry. You would probably think about it if you were going on a long trek, but might not bother if you were just popping down to the shops. And that's, of course, just when accidents happen...

So I have been thinking about how we as knitters can make ourselves more visible at night without gearing up in special clothing. Clearly, bright colours can help a bit, but I am also going to experiment with some reflective tape. I have a spool of tape currently on order and when it arrives I am going to try to incorporate it into a range of knits such as scarves and backpacks. 

That might just make the difference between being safe at night or not... 


I will post back here when I have tried the reflective tape out on the scarf I am just working on now. This is the Karlskrona Scarf and I am hoping to incorporate the tape into the zig-zag patterns at each end of the scarf. I think it will be an interesting test!

Until next time,

Happy Knitting!

Moira

Last Blogpost: Autumn is upon us!

Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

The photo at the top is Stockholm City Hall by Werner Nystrand, & the photo of the Swedish street was taken in Storgatan, Falköping, Sweden by Nasko. Many thanks to them both.


. 6/11/18

30 Sep 2018

Autumn is upon us!


We have returned home after a wonderful trip to England and Sweden. I hope you enjoyed all the "postcards" from our trip. It was great to catch up with everyone, see the fantastic autumnal colours in Sweden and the freshly-harvested fields in the UK. The hillsides always look so clean and yellow when the wheat has just been gathered in.


Now we are back in Florida and it feels as though we have been rolling back the seasons as we have journeyed south. There was a definite crispness in the air in Sweden, then a mild summer breeze across the northern hills in England, but I have just come in from mowing the lawn here in Florida and am baking hot. No wonder since it is 33ºC / 92ºF out there, with a heat index of over 100.

So it does feel slightly unreal to be starting work on a new winter scarf, but I know that it will be needed very soon. We are visiting Boston next week and I hear dire warnings of cooler conditions setting in very soon!



However, if I need any convincing then looking at some more of Tim's photos from our travels will convince me that I need to get working on those winter warmers quickly!

Until next time,

Happy Knitting

Moira


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

Many thanks again to both Tim and Anna for their photos for the last few blogposts. Find them on Instagram: Tim Ravenscroft / x1dman and Anna Ravenscroft / kikuknits



. 10/10/18

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