28 Nov 2015

For him - the Grantchester Scarf

 There's a BBC production called The Cambridge Spies which shows the recruitment of some of the UK's most notorious spies from the last century. In this there's a scene where one of the future spies, Guy Burgess, is in college but permanently attired in a heavy wool duffle coat. One of his friends asks him why he is wearing the coat and his reply is one of the classic lines from the series:

"Vladivostok, Moscow, the Kuznets Basin and Cambridge — coldest places on earth. And of the four, Cambridge... permanently the 19th of February."

I expect we could all name a few other places that Mr Burgess should have included in that list — I'd vote for Boston, for sure. The temperatures there are already down below freezing overnight and we're not even into December yet.

So here's this week's #KnittingAhead idea: think of someone you know who lives in a cold climate and knit them something to keep them warm in the deep cold of January and February. This doesn't have to be a Christmas present of course, although that's always a good pretext for a gift. Cozy comforts are always welcome no matter what the occasion. 

I'll focus on the chaps in this blogpost and then suggest ideas for ladies next time. Men generally like simple, muted colours in their scarves but with a lot of textural interest. I have a couple of men's scarves already in my pattern store and have just added a new one, the Grantchester Scarf.

The scarf is worked in a reversible pattern, Ribbon Basket Pattern, from our book, Reversible Knitting StitchesThis is a reversible pattern with a deep, rugged texture that traps the air and keep you warm even when the temperatures really start to fall. I used Knit Picks "Wool of the Andes" for this but any worsted weight, aran or similar yarn would work well. 

There are two different widths, a 20cm/8 ins size and a larger 28cm/11 ins version. I have also suggested three different lengths from a short neckwarmer-style to a long wrapping version as a real wind-stopper. Have a look at my earlier blogpost for ideas on scarf lengths to see what might suit you best.

So grab your needles and send some instant warmth to someone you know living in Vladivostok, Cambridge or somewhere equally cold!!

For more information about the Grantchester Scarf pattern, please click here. The pattern is available for instant download from the site.

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Home for the holidays

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23 Nov 2015

Home for the holidays

Do you have children or teenagers coming for the holidays? If so, you know that when the adults are sitting in a slight stupour digesting their meal, the younger members of the family will be asking what's going to happen next. It's almost as inevitable as the question that came the day before: "Are we there yet?"

And even if you don't have little people arriving, then it's fun to have some activities planned for everyone to join in. So here's a great idea for a project that's fun and easy — make some bracelets out of yarn!

Getting the various items together can be the first fun expedition, and then turning the yarn first into I-cord and then into bracelets will help occupy many a happy hour together.

I have just posted the new Ryedale Bracelet pattern into my pattern store. The pattern includes detailed notes and step-by-step photos so even if you have not made these type of Paracord bracelets before, you'll soon be braiding like a pro.

I found all the items I needed for this project in the same craft-store, including the yarn. I used Patons Grace yarn in bright zingy colours of Aquifer/Turquoise, Ginger/Green and Lotus/Hot Pink. However, this 100% cotton yarn comes in all kinds of shades and there are some strong masculine colours too, so you can select whatever colour combinations you fancy. Purchase 1 ball of yarn in each of 3 or more colours to give you lots of options.

Then to make the I-cord, you'll either need some double-pointed needles, a Knitting Nancy (such as my old faithful above), or an automated cord-maker. I tried the Caron Embellish-Knit cord maker and found it very good. You do need to give it your full attention to watch that the stitches are forming correctly. However, using one of these devices can produce lengths of I-cord in a very short space of time.

While you're at the craft store, you'll also need to pick up a pack of "paracord buckles". These are side-release buckles with a slight curve on them to fit your wrist. I purchased black ones but they also come in some wonderfully colourful versions too.

I also purchased an "Ezzzy" bracelet-making jig (yes, there really are that number of zzz's in the middle of the name)! I suppose this is not strictly necessary, but it does seem to make the braiding easier. I like the way you can set the jig to the exact size you require and it certainly keeps everything good and tight while braiding.

You've probably already got the other items you'll need such as a tapestry needle, a crochet hook, measuring tape and a pair of scissors, so with these few new items you'll be good to go.

Once you have the I-cord prepared, you can set it up on the jig and you (or your small helpers) can start knotting away. Before you know it, they'll be finishing off the ends and showing off their brand-new bracelet. (Then probably having orders from everyone else in the room!)

For more information about the Ryedale Bracelet pattern, please click here.

Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy your bracelet-making!


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14 Nov 2015

New pattern - Hamilton Table Runner

Although we may not relish the approach of winter, it does provide us all with a perfect excuse for some indoor entertaining and parties. Barbecues and picnics at the park are rapidly become a fading memory with the cooler temperatures outside. However, what could be better than a welcoming fire, a glass of mulled wine and a gathering of friendly faces to help celebrate Thanksgiving or your other seasonal events.

So make it an occasion everyone will remember with a brand new table runner! A table runner acts to set the scene for the whole room and brings a wonderful sense of elegance and tradition to any event. Add accessories, flowers and decorations to match your colour theme and you will have the perfect setting for the day. 

There are lots of ways to use table runners but they work especially well with wooden tables because they bring out the beauty of the wood. You can also drape them over the top of a simple tablecloth for a stunning effect or use a narrow runner on your favourite sideboard.

The Hamilton Table Runner pictured here is the latest pattern in my #KnittingAhead series. This features a wonderful reversible stitch, Elongated Diamond Pattern, from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches

This is an absolutely beautiful stitch, with an embossed diamond pattern set between garter stitch ridges. The pattern really catches the light and gives a wonderful sense of proportion to a table setting — perfect for all those winter festivities coming very soon!

The runner is worked in Knit Picks "Cotlin" which is a crisp cotton/linen mixture, but if you can't get hold of that then Rowan's "Creative Linen" would be a good alternative.

For more information about the Hamilton Table Runner pattern, please click here. Good wishes for your next winter event!

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: So it begins

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6 Nov 2015

So it begins

One of the things I loved when we moved to the States about 20 years ago was that you could tell which month it was by looking at everyone's front gardens! In September, colourful yellow leaves festoon door wreaths and mailboxes, then in October white ghosts float from the trees while fake tombstones sit nestled in the long grass. 

In November, the ghosts have been replaced by garlands of red leaves and colourful gourds ready for Thanksgiving at the end of the month. Then in December, Christmas lights and berry-laden door decorations appear. It's magical.

It's a wonderful build-up to the end of year celebrations but more than that, the changing of the decorations gives us all a good "Heads Up!" that the Festive Season is well and truly on its way. 

So this week's #KnittingAhead idea is all about getting ready for your next big family event by making a brand-new table runner. These are always an elegant way to dress up your table, whether it is a small centrepiece for a display of fruits and vegetables or a lovely long runner falling gracefully over the ends of the table-top.

The photograph shows a new pattern, the Hamilton Table Runnerand I'll post more details about that in my next blogpost.

Until then, enjoy decorating the outside of your home in readiness!

Happy Knitting!


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