30 Jan 2016

New pattern - Okehampton Tie


Knitted ties have a special place in a man's wardrobe. They fill the void when the invitation states "business casual" yet you wish to wear a tie. A knitted tie adds a dash of panache, an updated fashion edge that a simple open-necked shirt does not provide. 

And what do you do if you are not sure of the dress code for an event? You don't want to be the only person without a silk tie or the only one with one! A knitted tie bridges this divide. It can tone down a crisp work-day shirt but also sharpen up a more casual one so that you hit just the right note for the occasion.

There is another advantage of a knitted tie. In keeping with its more informal nature, you can now select a completely different shirt for informal events than you would for your next Board meeting. It can be in a stronger colour or with a pattern that you wouldn't normally consider for the working day. The collar can be a little deeper or it could sport a modern silver collar pin to match your cufflinks.

The Okehampton Tie pictured here is perfect for these occasions and features a strong graphic pattern that shows well on both the tie and the knot. This is the Purl Triangles stitch from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches. The stitch is truly reversible and gives a lovely flat fabric with alternating knit and purl triangles.

The tie is designed with a bottle-neck shaping which gives a small, neat knot. This is important for a knitted tie since they are usually a little bulkier than a standard tie. Here, the shaping reduces the bulk of the tie so lends itself to several different knots. The usual knot for a knitted tie is the simple Four-in-hand knot that you learnt at school. That one is easy to work and gives a good finish, as you can see in the photo above.

However, how about trying a Pratt-Shelby knot? That is featured on the blue denim shirt in the previous photo and gives a very stylish symmetrical knot with a pronounced central dimple.

Another great thing about a knitted tie is that you can choose to make them in a wide range of colours. The green one above would be perfect for a country look, but you could go bolder for the summer and select yellow, orange or a bright sky-blue to accompany your Chinos. In the winter you could opt for deeper colours and make several in a navy blue, maroon, charcoal or black. Or theme your tie for your next event, such as a bright green one for a St Patrick's Day gathering.

And knitted ties are not just for men! Designers routinely feature them in their collections both for men and for women seeking a masculine look. 

If you would like to read more about the Okehampton Tie pattern, then please click here. The pattern is available for instant download from the site.

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: The frosty side of cool

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25 Jan 2016

The frosty side of cool

Charles Dickens had it about right when he wrote about an old porter at the end of a long winter's day: 

"Toby's nose was very red, and his eye-lids were very red, and he winked very much, and his shoulders were very near his ears and his legs were very stiff, and altogether he was evidently a long way upon the frosty side of cool."
"The Chimes", 1844.

Oh yes, it's cold right now. Snow-drifts, howling gales, sharp northerly winds — brrrr. We even had frosts down in Florida this morning. However, ever an optimist, I can see that the official start of Spring in less than 2 months away! It's hard to believe, isn't it? The months go by faster every year. 

So I have been enjoying working with some cotton yarns and there are a number of projects on my needles right now in lovely soft cottons. I have just finished a few men's ties in KnitPicks Cotlin yarn, a crisp cotton/linen mix, and a bathmat in DMC Natura XL chunky cotton, which is pictured at the top of this blogpost. I have to say the bathmat has already been pressed into service to keep my toes from contacting chilly tiled floors.

I also have some placemats started in Rowan Denim yarn and a little girls' dress planned too. I am certainly living up to my blogpost where I suggested starting several projects at once! My yarn drying racks are filled with cotton yarns in varying stages of washing and drying and I have a pleasingly large number of skeins waiting to be wound back into balls again. 

I hope everyone is keeping warm, and finding enough projects to do in front of a cozy fire. Perhaps think towards Spring and start swatching the cotton yarns in your stash.

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Without the Ocean

Thanks to my DH Tim for his photo of the DMC Natura XL yarn. For more of Tim's photos please see his Flickr Site.

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13 Jan 2016

Without the Ocean

It is amazing how different a pattern can look when you work it with a different colour, an alternative yarn or with slightly larger or smaller needles. Here's a recent example of a multi-coloured pattern being worked in a single natural colour and looking completely different from the original.

This is the Ocean Currents Blanket pattern I was writing about a few weeks ago, but this time without the ocean!

I have recently been knitting a few projects with Cascade "EcoCloud" which is a gorgeously soft merino / alpaca mix with a very interesting chainette structure. The yarn is, in effect, like a slim i-Cord and really holds the heat well. Between the two ultra-soft fibres in the blend and the airy-ness of the structure, it is super cozy in use. 

I had a ball of the Cream colour left over after I had finished a little baby jacket and have just worked up a swatch using the Ocean Currents Blanket pattern. The result is a lovely retro sampler effect which really highlights the different patterns used in the design. The yarn shows the stitches well and I think a blanket or throw worked in this colourway would be perfect to add an extra layer to a chilly bedroom.

The yarn is 150m/164 yds:100gm ball, so is a little thicker than the one suggested in the pattern. I worked the sample on one size larger needles to compensate for this and to maintain the open feel of the fabric and it worked out beautifully.

OK, who has some good offers on Cascade yarns right now..? I feel a creamy blanket moment coming on!

You can see me knitting the original Ocean Currents Blanket in this blogpost, and read more about the knitting pattern here and here.

Happy Knitting!


. 23/12/18 W

6 Jan 2016

Roc-ing into 2016

I always love this time of the year. It's cool outside and the garden is sleeping. The leaves are cleared, the bushes are trimmed and fragile plants are bedded down with straw for the winter. Even the frenetic build-up to the holiday season has ended and everyone is feeling well-fed and ready for a change of pace.

And I find, year after year, that this is the time I turn my attention to dyeing and spinning. It just seems to come naturally with the change to the New Year. And I'm not alone, for across many countries today is celebrated as a special day for spinners. It's called Roc Day or St Distaff's Day and happens the day after Twelfth Night. 

Back in the day when spinning was a long and arduous daily toil for many women, it would be understandable if they might have a bit reluctant to return to their tasks. However, it was made considerably more pleasant by celebrating with other villagers for one final day of merriment before the real work started again.

If you fancy celebrating Roc Day this year, then check your local paper as a number of local spinning groups have events planned for the weekend. And even if you're not a spinner you can join in the fun by knitting a project using hand-spun yarn from your local yarn store or Farmers' Market.

I have a number of patterns that can be worked with hand-spun yarn:

At the top left there's the Henley Blanket in a two-tone blue and purple combination using a reversible stitch from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches

The photo at the top right shows a scarf, the Sawston Infinity Scarf, which is worked in a beautifully soft Blue-Faced Leicester yarn. If you have never tried this fibre then see if you can find some soon — it may be the softest wool you have ever worked with.

The centre photos show the Rare Earth Cushions and Rare Earth Rug which use a wonderful blend of natural coloured yarns. 

And lastly, the Ocean Currents Blanket that I featured in my last blogpost is shown alongside a co-ordinating rug, the Ocean Currents Rug

Of course, you can choose to use hand-spun yarn for any knitting pattern if you have the right weight of yarn for the pattern — feel free to experiment!

Until next time, enjoy your spinning, knitting and merry-making,


Last Blogpost: Keep warm this winter
Next Up: Without the Ocean

. 26/7/18 W


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