26 Jun 2020

It started with a placemat...

I'm back with news about an update to our Reversible Knitting Stitches E-book! You may recall that back in January, Anna and I set ourselves the challenge of adding 20 new stitches to our E-book for 2020. The idea had come to me when I was making a new set of placemats as I had been playing around with different stitch variations and loved the new stitch that I ended up with. 

It was only a minor change in the stitch chart from one of the stitches in the book but the final result looked so different! The front face had a strong cellular pattern while the reverse side showed smooth undulating ribs – just perfect for placemats and coasters.

I e-mailed Anna and said how I'd love to add this to a new updated E-book, and we got to wondering if we could find some others. Of course, what we didn't know at the time was that the Coronavirus lockdown was about to happen and a full program of travelling was going to be cancelled... 

At first, there was a tremendous disappointment at so many plans being abandoned and that awful feeling of helplessness watching the news unfold around the world. However, in the end I was grateful to have such a fun project to focus on during the extra time at home.

So I got my knitting pins out and made sure I had a large basket of wool by my side and Anna did the same over in Sweden. Then we had a chat about what we wanted to achieve with the new additions. 

We decided to focus on 4 areas: Firstly, we wanted to add some more easy stitches so beginner knitters could extend their range and produce great knitted projects without having to concentrate too hard. 

Then secondly, we wanted to add some more examples of colourful reversible stitches. These are, of course, the Holy Grail of knitters since it is so hard to make multi-colour items that really look good on both sides. We did have some examples in the 1st Edition but we wanted to make sure we had a few extra ones to add to the new update.

Then thirdly, we had received a number of requests for more lace patterns. It is easy to understand why, since lace is so often used for shawls where both sides are on show. The 1st Edition had quite a good selection of lace and mesh designs, but there's always room for more! 

Then lastly, we thought the cable chapter was a bit 'thin' before so we wanted to add a good number of additional cable samples. We are very pleased with the new ones and I am excited to try some of them out for warm winter scarves and sweaters.

So, ... drumroll ... the 2nd Edition will have 250 stitches in it!! Yey! We are so pleased to have been able to add so many new stitches, and hope that everyone enjoys the extra examples we have included. 

We were only hoping for an extra 20 but the ideas really started to flow once we got down to it. In fact the book actually has 253 entries but we thought "250 stitches" sounded better in the title!

We also added lots of new project ideas, so that there are now over 75 project photos scattered through the book. Most of these new ones are from Anna, and I love having more of her playful colourful designs showing the range of projects that can be worked with reversible stitches.

We already have all the photographs taken and the pages formatted so the book is now going through editing. We hope to complete that stage in perhaps another month or so, all being well. So we are currently on target to have this up and ready by the autumn. 

We will send a free update of this new version to everyone who has already purchased either the E-book or a Print-and-digital package as soon as it is available. If you would prefer to wait for the new edition to come out, then please contact me and I will e-mail you as soon as it is available.

In the meantime, I will leave you with the pattern I was mentioning at the top of the blogpost. This is the Trevarren Placemat Set and you can find the pattern on my website here.

Until next time,

Happy Knitting!


7 Feb 2020

Faded Denim – a timeless colour for some new placemats

Denim fans have been delighted to see that "Faded Denim" is one of the key colours in Pantone's colour collection for this year and indeed we are seeing some wonderful denim shades in the yarn stores right now. The colour palette also includes a lovely soft dusky yellow and a gentle coral, together with richer shades such as the Colour of the Year, Classic Blue.

Pantone themselves described the colour palette as having "a timeless quality" and it certainly feels very evocative, like sitting on a harbour wall watching the twilight gentle settle at the end of the day.

The photo above shows some lovely yarns from Quince and Co. in just this Faded Denim shade. This is their Chickadee 100% wool yarn and I haven't quite decided what to do with that yet but I am excited by the possibilities. The colours shown are their Delft Blue together with Clay, Carrie's Yellow and the deep blue Fjord. I love the way they go together. I haven't used this yarn before but I hear only good things about it, so am looking forward to trying that out.

Another yarn I purchased recently is Paintbox Yarns Cotton Aran in their Dolphin Blue colour and I have been using that for a set of placemats. I love the way they have come out. The yarn has really brought out the texture of the design.

I worked these in Textured Rib which is a pattern we are going to include in an expanded version of our Reversible Knitting Stitches E-Book in the autumn. The stitch has a strong, cellular pattern with vertical ribs crossed by a line of purls to create a series of small air pockets. This is great for placemats, of course, because it holds the hot items clear of the table surface to protect them.

The other side has a completely different look with a wonderfully undulating surface like a ridge and furrow field, giving a really interesting contour to the otherwise smooth surface. I love patterns that have two very definite “sides”. It always feels like a bit of a bonus to have extra options, doesn't it!

I have just uploaded the Trevarren Placemat Set pattern to my website, so please head there to see more photos and details. The set includes two sizes of placemats, a central tablemat, hot pads and a set of coasters to finish the set off. The colour is just perfect and I am looking forward to using this set lots this summer.

Well, it's turned into a lovely sunny afternoon after a grey start today, so I think I'm going to make a cup of tea and try out some ideas for the Chickadee yarn in the top photo. I'll let you know what I come up with!

Until next time – Happy Knitting,


10 Jan 2020

20 for 2020

There's always a tremendous feeling of a "new start" at the beginning of a new decade, isn't there. A time for new explorations and new challenges. So it was that on 1st Jan 2010, I opened my brand new notebook and wrote:

"AIM: To find or design knitting stitches that look good on both sides. 
Q: Can I get to a total of 100 stitches? "

A few years earlier I had made a long ribbon of stitches, a bit like a Doctor Who scarf, with a sampler of reversible stitches I had either found or drawn up over the years and had got to a grand total of 73. However, the "scarf" format was unwieldy and I had chosen a lot of dark yarns which didn't photograph well.

So I chose some new yarns and made a start by reknitting all of those stitches. Then I went through all the books I had here and found another 12 so now I had 85 samples, but still far short of the challenge to find 100 that I had set myself.

It was about this time that Anna saw the increasing sets of samples piling up everywhere and joined in the hunt. We started with graph paper and knitting needles and soon had another 20 or so stitches to get to the 100 stitch mark and just beyond.

At which point she said to me, "We should write a book!"

And that's how our Reversible Knitting Stitches book came into being. First as a challenge for the new decade in 2010, then with a fresh pair of eyes and a second pair of hands knitting away over on the other side of the Atlantic.

We scoured the libraries and on-line sites, we took promising stitches and designed new variations to make them reversible, we played around with stitch charts and sampled, sampled, sampled. Then suddenly we were within sight of 200 stitches – a good number for a book. A final few months of exploration and we reached our target! The E-book was published in Sept 2016 and followed shortly afterwards by the print book in 2017.

So what challenge have I in mind for this year? Well my new 2020 Notebook has started with the entry:

"AIM: Find or design more stitches to add to our Reversible Knitting Stitches collection.
Q: Can I add 20 stitches in 2020? "

So that's what I'm going to try to do this year and I'm going to post here with news as I try them out. It might sound a modest number, but I think it will be a fun challenge!

If they look like they'll be good additions to the collection, then we'll add them to the E-book and perhaps try to get a new version out towards the end of the year. I've been wanting to get a new version out for a while anyway, as Anna has some great examples of final pieces to illustrate some of the existing stitches and I'd love to incorporate them into the E-book. 

And of course, we'll send the updated version to everyone who already has the current edition. I'll post updates here as to when that might be, but we're aiming for perhaps October or November if all goes well.

Next time, I'll show you the first of the stitches I've been working on. It's a nice easy stitch and I am currently using it for some placemats and coasters. I'm very excited about these but I'll save news of them until next time.

I'll leave you with a photo I took a couple of weeks ago at one of our lovely beaches, Caspersen Beach in South Venice, Florida – and yes, the sea really was that gorgeous turquoise colour that day! 

I hope your New Year has started well and that it will be a happy and successful year for you all. 

Until next time – Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Keep those ears warm

30 Dec 2019

Keep those ears warm

Things get tricky when you have a pony tail... You want to keep warm but your favourite hat won't fit. You can lift your parka hood up but that still doesn't bring the circulation back into your ears and you start to believe the old wives' tail about losing half of your body heat through your head in winter!

So here's the solution: a cozy headband or ear-warmer. Quick to knit, easy to make and super-stylish, these small accessories are a must for deep winter. Here are two of my favourites that you can knit now ready for the New Year snows.

The two photos above show Anna's Frost-Fighter Headband and Mitts – a super combination to keep both your ears and hands warm. Anna tells me that she especially likes using the headband when she is out on her morning run as it not only keeps her warm but also keeps her hair out of her eyes.

The set is worked in one of my favourite yarns, Willow and Lark 'Nest' and the pattern includes two different sizes.

The pattern features a lovely stitch from our Reversible Knitting Stitches book. This is the Ribbed Cable stitch which is a wonderfully graphic stitch with quite a different look on the front and the back. Both sides are well-padded for extra insulation and the texture feels good against chilly ears.

The second headwarmer I am featuring today is the Teversham Headwarmer, shown here with the matching cowl which is also included in the pattern. This is a super-toasty headwarmer worked with two ends of a DK yarn held together. The combination of a soft merino mix yarn and the deep, textural pattern gives a winning head-warming combination.

This is a lovely deep headwarmer and is shaped to the head like an open-topped hat to give a cozy fit for a "messy bun hat" look. The pattern includes three sizes of headwarmer together with the separate cowl which would make a good men's accessory for that all-important couples' look on the ski-slopes.

Both the headwarmer and the cowl are worked in a textured double rib pattern which is a variation of the Hatfield Check pattern from our Reversible Knitting Stitches collection. The stitch is easy to work and gives a wonderfully graphic spin on a double rib design. 

Both the headwarmer and the cowl have colour bands which are worked with either two ends of the same colour or a tweedy combo of the dark and light yarns for a snow-specked effect.

I hope that has given you some ideas for some cozy headwarmers to keep your ears warm in these ultra-chilly days. If you would like to see more ideas for keeping warm this winter, then please click here to go to the start of this blogpost accessories series.

It's almost New Year so if you have snow where you are, I hope you will enjoy wearing your new cozy accessories while you have fun snow-tubing, ski-ing or having a fun snowball fight!

Until next time – Happy New Year Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Time to knit a hat
Next Up: 20 for 2020

20 Dec 2019

Time to knit a hat

It's almost time for ski season – that magical time of year when you actually welcome a cool, crisp blue-sky day with fresh powdery snow waiting for you. 

And even if the ski slopes are not calling to you, then the coldest months of the year are approaching fast! So now is the time to don your best snow outfit and top it off with a colourful hat to keep you super cozy.

The photos above shows Anna's Twinning Hat, which is a super-colourful hat with sizes to suit both men and women. I love the wide turn-back to keep your ears warm and the colourful pom-pom on the top. The cable pattern is fun to work and gives a lovely textural result. 

Make two in different colours and hit the ski slopes with a colourful couples' look!

The Moon Hat is another of Anna's designs and this one features broad, colourful stripes. Both the Twinning Hat and the Moon Hat are worked in a DK yarn and can be worked with just 2 or 3 balls of yarn. 

The Moon Hat has a fine twisted pattern and a super-deep turn-back to keep your head insulated against the worst of the winter storms to come. It also has a fun gathered top for a contemporary look.

If you prefer your beanie hats to be without turn-back cuffs, then here are two hats that might fit the bill. The one shown above is the Northstowe Beanie Hat which is a comfortable, easy-to-wear men's beanie. The hat features strong textural details with wide ribs intersected by garter stitch bands. 

It is worked with two strands of a DK yarn held together to give a chill-beating finish.

Just as the Twinning Hats can be made in a his-and-hers styling, here's another hat where you can team your couples' look. The Madingley Beanie Hat has a lovely feminine double-banded rib pattern to co-ordinate and compliment the more rugged look of the Northstowe Mens' Beanie.

This is also worked using two strands of a soft DK yarn held together which adds to the insulating qualities of the yarn. ​

So far I have featured hats which are worked with DK yarns either held singly or doubly, but here's a hat which has been knit in a super-soft chunky yarn. This is Anna's Glacier Hat and is shown here is lovely winter colours like glacier ice.

Big, bold and super-cozy, this hat can be worn as an oversized slouchy hat or with a turn back to fit snug to the head. 

The Glacier Hat hat needs just 1 ball in each of the colours so is very quick to finish. If you start one now before you head off on your holidays, it might be finished before you get back home again!

I hope those have given you some good ideas for hats to start work on now. My thanks to Anna for allowing me to feature several of her lovely hats alongside my own. Please check out her website, www.kikuknits.com for more details of her great patterns and to sign up to her newsletter.

Next time, I will be continuing my blogpost accessories series with a look at head-bands and head-warmers which are excellent choices for extra ear protection, especially if you wear your hair in a pony tail.

Until then - have a wonderful holiday and safe travels!


Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

28 Nov 2019

How much yarn do I need for a scarf?

We have reached the start of winter, with heavy snows falling in the Boston area. Even further south, the cold weather is sure to have everyone looking for a scarf or hat to keep warm. If you have been following my blogpost accessories series so far, you will know that I have been looking at cowls, neckwarmers and other small accessories to knit now ready for the winter ahead.

However, we can’t leave the topic of neckwear without mentioning scarves – that absolute necessity for any wintry clime. So if you fancy knitting a new scarf either for yourself or a loved one as a gift, then how much yarn will you need?

Well, this will depend on a number of factors but the main variables are: 
. how wide the scarf is
. how long it is
. the depth of texture
. and the yarn density

So, let’s look at a few examples starting with one of my favourite men’s scarves, the Lamberhurst Scarf. This has been worked in a soft merino DK yarn and has what I would term a medium texture. There are two lengths of scarf included in the pattern and the shorter version measures 23cm/ 9 ins wide x 130cm/ 51 ins long. This gives a neat, draping style. The sample I worked used 198gm/ 7oz of yarn which is 474m/ 518 yds of wool.

That left almost nothing from 4 balls of yarn so I would suggest that you would be wise to have a 5th ball of yarn on hand, especially if you might want to add a little bit more to the length of the scarf.

The longer version of the scarf is 173cm/ 68 ins long, which is great for wrapping around the neck to ward off those pesky winter winds. However, it is also a little slimmer with a width of just 19cm/ 7.5 ins. The combination of a slighter slimmer width but longer length means that it only uses a bit more yarn, 210gm/7.4oz which is 499m/ 546 yds. 

This is, of course, all to do with the total area of knitting. I was mentioning Maths a couple of blogposts ago, and it’s back again! The small Lamberhurst is 23x130 cm = 2,990 cm2, but the larger one is 19x173 cm = 3,287 cm2, ie the area of knitting is not much more even though is over 40cm/ 16 ins longer. So this is a good way to make your yarn go further. If you know you would like a lovely long scarf, then you might want to plan for a slimmer width.

Let’s look at another scarf in DK, this time for the ladies, the Elizabeth Scarf. This is a slim scarf but worked with a good length so you can wrap it around your neck several times or work an elaborate fold for a fashion look. The scarf shown in the photo is worked in a DK weight and measures just 16.5cm/ 6.5 ins wide but has a lovely length of 185cm/ 72 ins. It used 205gm/ 7.3oz of yarn which is 468m/ 505 yds, so very similar to the above examples even though it is much longer.

So, you can probably see that if you have perhaps 5 balls (250gm/9oz) of a DK yarn, you will get a good-sized scarf. Even 4 skeins (200gm/ 7oz) might be enough for a skinny scarf or a shorter one, but 250gm/ 9oz should give you a nice length or a bit of a thicker texture.

So let’s have a look at thicker yarns. Another man’s scarf that I like to work because it has such a dynamic pattern is the Beckenham Scarf. I have made a number of these and although it is nominally a man’s scarf, I have actually worked this one for ladies too with good results. Again there are two versions, a worsted weight and a chunky and each of those can be worked in 3 widths.

The widest scarf measures 21.5cm/ 8.5 ins wide and is 185cm/ 72 ins long. This used 237gm/ 8.4oz of Worsted Weight yarn, which is 475m/ 520 yds. This is 5 balls of yarn, but in the pattern I have suggested purchasing 6 balls just to sure you have enough to complete the design. The pattern has quite a long repeat, so it would be very annoying to run out of yarn at the end. 

The chunky Beckenham has the same dimensions but here the large size used 385gm/ 13.6oz. However, here’s a surprising thing: when I checked the yardage I found this was exactly the same as for the Worsted Weight size, 475m/ 520 yds! Now, although at first that surprised me that the number should come out to be identical with the Worsted Weight scarf, somehow once I thought about it then it wasn’t so surprising after all. 

Indeed, it is often said that it is better to think about how many metres/yards of yarn you need for a project rather than the weight or number of skeins. 

This is especially true with heavier-than-usual yarns. Yarns can vary enormously in their density, as I found when I used to do more hand-spinning. The yarn was lovely, but garments I made from hand-spun tended to be much heavier because the yarn was denser. To be honest, that was probably my inept spinning and you might get lighter yarns than I did! However, you still need a certain yardage to make a scarf or sweater, even if the yarn weighs more. 

So looking at the metreage/yardage for the above scarf examples, you could say that about 500-550m/ 550-600 yds of wool will make a fairly slim, medium-long scarf with a medium texture.

Another thing that affects the amount of yarn used will be the depth of the texture. So to illustrate that, here is the Grantchester Scarf. This is a deeply-textured scarf also worked in a worsted weight yarn. Because of the deep squishy texture, you don’t actually need to work such a long scarf for the same amount of cushy warmth.

The scarf pictured here is a neat style suitable for cycling, so is just 20cm/ 8 ins wide and only 120cm/ 48 ins long, so is quite short when compared to the previous examples. However, it is super cozy as there is 166gm/ 6oz of wool packed in there. This is 340m/ 365 yds of yarn.

Let's translate that into a direct comparison with the Beckenham Scarf. That measured 21.5x185cm/ 8.5x72 ins and needed 237gm/ 8.4oz of yarn (475m/ 520 yds).

If we worked a Grantchester Scarf with the same dimensions, then we would need 275gm/ 9.7oz of yarn, or 561m/ 605 yds, so the rich texture has used yarn up at a much faster rate. 

Again from the Mathematical point of view, that is logical - we are, after all, knitting a 3D object! So although we have spoken about the area of knitting above, it would probably be more accurate to say that we should think about the volume (width x length x depth). So a richer, deeper texture will need more yarn.

These are then, the main factors that will determine how much yarn you need to have on hand to work a scarf: 
. A skinny scarf will use less yarn than a wider one. 
. A longer scarf will need more yarn than a shorter version. 
. And a deep, well-textured scarf will use yarn up faster than one with a medium or fine texture.

 So it follows that you will need to use more yarn if you wish to create a big-volume scarf which is wider, longer, and/or has more texture.These are all factors that will increase the amount of yarn needed. If we look at the Cambourne Scarf, then you will see that this ticks all three of those boxes! It has a deeper texture and the largest scarf is a generous 26cm/ 10.25 ins wide. It is also 190cm/ 75 ins long so will need extra yarn. 

The Cambourne Scarf is worked in one of my favourite yarns, Lang Merino+, which is a super soft Worsted Weight yarn. The scarf is worked lengthwise and has a contrast coloured stripe at one side. For the largest size, I used 322gm/ 11.4oz of the Main Colour and 60gm/ 2.1oz of the Contrast Colour, so a total of 382gm/ 13.5oz of yarn, 688m/ 752 yds.

So if you would like to make a larger and/or wider scarf for that multi-wrap fashion look, then I would allow about 650-750m, say 700-800 yds of yarn. 

Of course these are just guidelines and the actual amount you need will depend on the particular yarn, the fibre content and so on. The above examples are all in wool or wool mixes, and you may well find that cotton or other fibres may not work quite the same. In any case, it’s always a good idea to have extra yarn on hand just in case you find your knitting uses yarn up at a faster rate that in the pattern – everyone’s knitting is unique, and what works for one person may not work for you. You can always make a hat with the leftovers!

If you would like some more suggestions for scarf lengths and widths then please see my earlier blogpost, "How long shall I make this scarf?". I hope that has given you some good ideas for using your stash or recent sale yarn purchases for some fabulous new scarves. Then you can go and play in the snow!

If you'd like more information about any of these scarves, then please have a look at my websiteNext time I’ll be back with a look at some hats to brighten up the dull winter days. 

Until then - Happy Knitting!



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