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 be sending the new version to anyone who has already purchased the current E-book and will also post updates here. 

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!


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