knitting pattern

Evangelina Socks

I am delighted to announce my new Evangelina sock pattern has just been published in Knitty online magazine, and it’s free! Have a look at the listing on Ravelry too.

Evangelina socks

My design is based on a Victorian baby’s Bootee pattern from a book I found in the National Museums Scotland library, where I work: Scrivenor, M. Elliot. Collection of Knitting and Crochet Receipts. John Paton, Son and Co., Alloa, 1896. It has a lovely cover:

Book Cover

This is the Frontispiece:

Book Frontispiece

We have other Victorian knitting books in the library, but what particularly struck me about this book was the photos. It was wonderful to see the kind of clothing you would expect to see in a Victorian period drama, and realise it was possible to make them from these patterns. This Child’s Hood feels like it just stepped out of a Charles Dickens novel:

Child's hood

I thought it would be great to have a go at knitting or crocheting something from the book, and I loved the stitch pattern in this Baby’s Boot:

Baby's boot

So I gave it a go. Using 2mm double pointed needles and some Drops Lace yarn I had by from making a shawl. I only made one, and this is what it turned out like:

Evangelina Bootee

Very sweet. The stitch pattern was remarkably easy to knit, and was based on a rib stitch pattern. I immediately thought it would make a lovely ladies’ sock pattern. However, I had a lot of problems working the crochet edging on the sock to the instructions, it just came out too tight and the scallops looked too gathered compared to the original photo. The photo above shows my second attempt at the edging, I had to adapt the instructions to make it look similar to the original, but still it was a tight and inflexible cuff. I knew I was going to have to try something else for the sock cuff.

There were quite a few adaptations that needed to be made, as a baby’s bootee has different functions to a ladies’ sock. The original had moss stitch over the sole and toes, fine for a baby’s foot, which would not touch the ground, but a bit lumpy for an adult to walk on; so I changed the sole and toes to smooth stocking stitch, but retained the moss stitch for the side gussets:

Evangelina socks

I thought a reinforced heel would be more practical for an adult sock, but chose pheasant’s eye stitch as it had a similar feel to the original moss stitch.  I liked the ribbon around the ankle in the original pattern, but moved it to the cuff, where it could be seen for decorative effect on an adult sock. I used a thicker yarn, 4ply sock yarn, as lace weight would not wear well for adult socks.

Evangelina socks

As the original cuff had been problematical in crochet, I experimented with a combination of knit stitch patterns to create a similar effect. The cuff edging stitches are based on the Victorian cabbage patch edge stitch, which uses staggered cluster stitches to create the effect. To help the cuff edge remain stretchy I used a provisional cast on, which removed a firm cast on edge. The cuff edging is then knitted up from the provisional stitches after the rest of the sock has been knitted.

Evangelina socks

I was inspired by the original book to choose red yarn for the socks. Most of the patterns in the book specified what colour yarn was used, probably because the book was produced by a yarn manufacturer. Looking through the patterns I was surprised to find that red was often used for underwear, like these Knickerbocker Drawers:

Knickerbocker drawers

Knickerbocker drawers pattern

I just loved the idea that respectable looking Victorian ladies and gentlemen could be keeping their nether regions warm by clothing them in a saucy red colour! Babieswear was more muted though, this is the start of the pattern for the bootee I knitted:

Baby's Boot pattern

The original book has been reprinted and is now available to buy online. Perhaps you will be inspired to knit some red knickerbockers for yourselves…

Or have a go at my Victorian inspiration from the book – Evangelina is available in S,M,L ladies sizes directly from Knitty or through Ravelry.  I hope you enjoy knitting and wearing it.

Evangelina socks

While I was away in Venice my friend took a couple more photos of Evangelina, as I felt I needed more summery photos as it was going in the Spring/Summer issue, (it was originally intended for the Winter issue). Here are the photos:

Evangelina close up in Venice

Evangelina heels in Venice

Evangelina and poles in Venice

Can you see me wincing with the cold?!

Ruth wearing Evangelina socks in Venice

 

Thanks to Lara Armitage and S.Miller for the use of their photos.

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If you can knit rib, you can knit cables

I’ve just published a new FREE knitting pattern online to teach you how to knit cables.  The Cabled Cafetière & Tea Cosy pattern is available through Ravelry, but you do not have to be a Ravelry member to download it.

Cabled cosies

I’m going to tell you the story of how and why I wrote this pattern and go into quite a lot of knitting detail, so if you are not a knitting person you may wish to skip to the end where I have a bit of news.

In my Crafting Locally Update post I told you briefly about this pattern, which I wrote specifically to teach a workshop on how to knit cables. Cables are one of those techniques that look really impressive, but are actually really easy to do once you know how. If you can knit a rib you can knit cables.

cabled teacosy

I wanted to make my workshop suitable for new knitters, or knitters who had not moved on from the basic stockingette and rib stitches. I designed it using Aran yarn, which I think is the easiest weight to knit with, and to be knitted flat, a technique which is familiar to all knitters, rather than circularly knitted.

cafetiere cosy

I initially started with the idea of the cabled cafetière cosy, and advertised the workshop, but then a number of people said they didn’t drink coffee, but would come to the workshop if there was a teacosy version. So I adapted the cafetière cosy design, and came up with the teacosy.

cabled teacosy

I chose a simple 4 stitch cable, with one column of cables twisting to the right and one column twisting to the left, so people could learn the technique for both cables. I staggered the cable twists so that each cable twist was positioned at the middle of the cable section of  of the neighbouring column cables, and placed a purl stitch between each cable column.

Cables close up

I created a photo tutorial for the cabling technique for my workshop attendees to refer to at home – I have also made this tutorial available online:

Cable knitting technique for 4 stitch cables photo tutorial

It shows how to cable using a cable needle, which is the  most suitable technique initially . I rarely use a cable needle to knit cables now, as I use the no cable needle cable technique, which I have also included in the tutorial – it is not difficult, but you need to be a confident knitter to try it. Sometimes  I have to use a cable needle, (for large cables) and prefer a straight needle, as seen in the tutorial. I brought 2 cable needle types for people to try in the workshop, and many of them liked the style with a v-shaped dent. There are many types of cable needle which are discussed in this article.

teacosy - spout view   teacosy - back view   teacosy - handle view

In reading about cable knitting on internet forums, I discovered a few beginner knitters thought they had to make the cable twist on every row. I think this misunderstanding occurs because tutorials only focus on the cable twist itself. In fact, the cables only happen on a few of the rows within an overall rib stitch pattern: e.g. in my pattern, the cable section is knitted over a 8 row rib stitch pattern and the cable twists only occur on 2 right side rows. In the workshop, I also demonstrated how the simple cables I included in my design are the basis for all other cabled, twisted and aran style stitch patterns.

I used garter stitch to finish off the edges of the cosies and stop them curling over. I decided to create tabs and buttons to fasten the cafetière cosy, as I thought it would then fit around most types of cafetière handle. I chose to knit some i-cord to tie the top of the teacosy, but you could easily use ribbon, or plait several strands of yarn together as a tie.

teacosy tie top

I’ve noticed talking to many knitters, that quite a number of them are nervous of knitting from charts, so I included written instructions and a chart. I explain how to follow a knitting chart in the pattern, and I hope this will encourage a few knitters to give it a try, as this is a fairly simply chart. If you were knitting the teacosy, you could try knitting the second side from the chart, once you were familiar with how it is knitted from making the first side.

Cabled cosy chart

I’m someone who responds well to visuals thing, so I like a chart, it helps me to see what the knitting is supposed to look like. The elongated cross shapes on the chart represent the cable twists and the columns of dashes are the purl stitches between the cable columns – compare the chart with the close up photo of the cables. Here is a great video tutorial explaining how to read a cable knitting chart
(I use “dashes” to represent purl stitches, this video uses “dots” instead.)

I had a really good response from people attending the my Cable Knitting workshop:

For Janet it was the first time she had knitted cables and successfully followed a knitting pattern, and she was justly proud of her teacosy. My explaination of how cable stitches worked inspired her to follow some other cable stitch patterns and knit up some sample cable squares that she could make into a blanket.

Cathy joined my workshop, because she had not picked up any knitting for about 15 years, although she used to knit a lot. This was the first time she had knitted cables, and she made a lovely cafetière cosy in a self striping yarn. This got her back into knitting again, and I suggested a few patterns she might try, and she made a cable knit bag.

I hope all this inside information helps support the pattern, and encourages you to have a go.

News

I have sadly decided to leave Lauder Trading Post – see my posts, Crafting locally and Crafting locally update. This is a fantastic co-operative craft group in my village which started off as the idea of a co-operative run craft shop, for which I would just have had to spare a little time in the shop and do a bit of admin to support it. However, it has become so much more: a programme of events and craft workshops, a pop-up cafe, a shop, running the local community hall and outreach craft workshops. I just got swept along with it all, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but my health deteriorated, and I felt that continuing with it was detrimental to managing my condition.

I’m very lucky that I can do quite a lot of things despite having M.E./CFS: I have managed to keep my job, I can walk OK, I don’t have accompanying Fibromyalgia, if I over exert myself I can recover fairly quickly. There are many people with M.E. who are a lot worse off than me. I have learned that it is best to focus on what you can do – writing my blog, taking photos of the Felty Folk, knitting and crochet, designing and writing knitting patterns, starting up an Etsy shop – so I am going to focus on these, and try not to “overdo” it. I realise that I set my own rules and deadlines that sometimes I can’t meet, because of my health; which I then beat myself up about. One of these is my blog: in aiming to write alternate Felty folk and crafting/general interests posts I have not written some general posts because I have been waiting for my health to improve, so I would have enough energy to go out and take photos of the Felty Folk. So I am going to write my Felty Folk posts as and when I can manage them. I really enjoy meeting and writing about the Felty Folk, so their posts will appear as often as  I can possibly manage them.

I had a lovely time with the people involved with Lauder Trading Post, and have made many new friends. I will continue to support their events. I learned that I enjoy teaching workshops, and when I’ve got my health more on an even keel, I will consider teaching some more. I’m going to look at the situation again in 5 months time. I ended with Lauder Trading Post on a high note, I helped out in the shop at the beginning of June, while they were putting everything together in the hall for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. I joined them later in the day, and managed one dance at the Vintage Tea Dance.

Vintage Tea Dance

Glasgow School of Yarn

I’ve had such a busy week it has delayed my blog post. This was mainly due to my usual M.E. post-activity crash, but I’m feeling a bit better now, and thought I’d tell you what I’ve been up to.

Back in August, the lovely yarn shop, The Yarn Cake, announced an yarn-based event with a market-place, workshops and a design competition to be held in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed church at Queens Cross, Glasgow. I was excited about the event, and even more excited about the competition which was to design and knit or crochet something inspired by the life or work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I’m quite a fan of the “Mackintosh style” and immediately had a couple of ideas. I thought of a chunky kimono style jacket in black with coloured square inserts; this was inspired by the hall doors I have seen in The Hill House, Helensburgh. The other idea I had, which I settled on in the end, was to re-work a design I had created for a garden sculpture I carved in stone, based on a Mackintosh textile design, called Stylised Tulips:

Stylised Tulips

I had adapted this design to fit a column shape for the carving, and thought the shape I created would work well as long wristwarmers. This was my design for the stone carving:

My Tulip design

and this was the completed carving in situ:

Mackintosh stone

I realised it would be impossible to recreate the various layers in the carving in knitting, but I could still use different stitches patterns to create a textural effect and delineate the shapes.

I wanted the tulip bud shape to sit on the knuckles towards the thumb, and realised that the design would not stretch around to the palm and underarm, and decided to extend the design so the sinuous asymmetric shapes wrapped all the way around the wristwarmers. I did a basic outline drawing of the design, scanned it, and made it a layer under a grid I created to the size I required in Adobe Illustrator. I coloured in the grid, using the drawing as a guide, to help me see the different shapes clearly, and how they worked reduced down to grid squares, and to help differentiate the stitch patterns. I then worked from the coloured grid to create the knitting charts in Microsoft Excel using a knitting symbol font, as I test knitted sections of the wristwarmers. It took a good few test swatches to get the tulip bud section to work, and the rest of the wristwarmers developed from there; I also wrote out the pattern instructions as I knitted. I finally had one wristwarmer completed, and as it was getting close to the competition deadline, I took photos of it (thanks to my model Amanda):

Tulips for Margaret wristwarmers

Tulips for Margaret wristwarmers

I had to create separate charts for the left and right hand, as they were mirror images of each other. I managed to flip the charts over in Photoshop, but some of the knitting symbols had to be changed to make the pattern work, which was a bit fiddly. Knitting the left wristwarmer gave me the opportunity to test knit the pattern, but also meant I noticed any mistakes in the charts, and had to tweak the charts as I went along. This was a pain, but I wanted other people to be able to recreate the knitting as I had intended, so it was essential to get it right. It all got very stressful when I found a major discrepancy in the final chart on the day before the deadline; and I decided to cut the top off the right hand I had already knitted and photographed, so I could reknit it.  I then knitted both sides in tandem to ensure the pattern and resulting garment matched.

Tulips for Margaret wristwarmers

I got them all finished in time, with a big sigh of relief. I’ve attempted to write patterns before, but due to my brain fogging moments of M.E. they have not been completed. Actually getting to the end of a pattern design feels like a major achievement. It also gives me a greater appreciation of the level of skills, focus, determination, and time it takes to write a knitting pattern.

The yarn I chose was Crannog from local dyer Natalie – The Yarn Yard, I had used this for a shawl before, and knew it would be very soft and stretchy and ideal for this pattern. She had created a beautiful colourway called Adore, which reminded me of the hand made stained glass I had seen in Mackintosh’s Hill House. I called the design Tulips for Margaret, as if the wristwarmers were to be worn by Mackintosh’s wife and fellow designer, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. The Tulips for Margaret  pattern is now for sale via Ravelry.

I visited Glasgow School of Yarn on the first day, and was delighted to see my wristwarmers displayed on a Mackintosh style chair and in the surroundings of the Mackintosh church:

Glasgow School of Yarn competition entries - Tulips for Margaret

Along with the other entries in the competition:

Glasgow School of Yarn competition entries

It was exciting, but a little daunting. My favorite was the black handbag with the stained glass effect rose design.

I was pleased to find a knitting friend from Edinburgh had arrived, so I had good company to stroll around the marketplace and ooh and aah over the fabulous hand dyed yarns from local independent dyers:

Abstract Cat Crafts (www.abstractcat.co.uk)

Colorimetry (www.etsy.com/shop/colorimetry)

Old Maiden Aunt (www.oldmaidenaunt.com)

Ripples Crafts (www.ripplescrafts.com)

Skein Queen (www.skeinqueen.co.uk)

The Yarn Yard (www.theyarnyard.co.uk)

I needed a rest after the retail therapy, and it was lovely to sit in the pews of the church with a cuppa and some homemade cake, taking in the Mackintosh features:

Mackintosh window

Mackintosh door light

In the afternoon, I had a workshop with Amy Singer, editor of the online knitting magazine – knitty.com, about getting patterns published in her magazine. It was full of useful tips and common-sense, and we also had the opportunity for Amy to peruse and critique our knitting designs. She was very gentle and encouraging, and I came away feeling positive about successfully completing  the knitting designs I had on the back burner, and submitting some to her magazine.

Two more friends had arrived in the afternoon, and some of them stayed on for the evening party when they were announcing the competition winners. They moved the competition entries to the main stage of the church:

Glasgow School of Yarn competition announcement of winners

This is the prizes table along with some of the entries, mine there too – exciting!

Glasgow School of Yarn competition prizes

However, so near and so far, my design was specially commended, along with a sock design, and I was delighted with that, but no prizes for me.

3rd prize was a “The Mack” a felted knitting needle case with a striking graphic Mackintosh design on the back by JustKnit Designs. Here is the prize presented by Antje from The Yarn Cake:

Glasgow School of Yarn competition 3rd prizewinner

It was very dark and I did not get photos of the other winners.

2nd prize was the Glasgow Rose shawl by Lucy.

and 1st prize was two entries by the same designer, the Beloved Rose beret and matching felted Beloved Rose bag by Amanda.

It was a really fun day, and thanks to The Yarn Cake for putting on a stimulating competition and inspiring workshops, and giving us the opportunity to get together in praise of yarn.

Here are some more pictures of the event on Spritlyknitter’s blog, and Amanda’s blog.