Indian Diamonds

I have just published a new lace shawl design – Gujarati Diamond shawl:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

It was designed in collaboration with Lindsay Roberts – The Border Tart (not a real Border Tart, we both live in the Scottish Borders, where the tart originates). Lindsay developed her range of natural hand-dyed indigo yarns, Blue Moon, after participating in a textile residency/exchange in India. The shawl was designed specifically for Lindsay’s indigo dyed lace weight yarn, and it seemed only right that the design should be inspired by India.

These are Lindsay’s Blue Moon yarns:

Blue Moon Sock Yarn

The different shades of blue are created as the indigo becomes weaker during the dying process. Unlike acid dyes where the yarn sucks all the dye out of the water; indigo slowly fades, so the strongest, deepest blues emerge first, and subsequent dye batches gradually end up pale blue. Indigo has to be oxidised to bring out the blue, a process I explained in my blog post – Natural Dye workshop.

A semi-solid colour is achieved by immersing the yarn in the dye and not stirring, so the dye is  absorbed unevenly, which creates a lovely soft ripple effect when knitted:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

These are her lace weight yarns:

Blue Moon Lace Yarn    Blue Moon Lace Yarn

She uses dip-dyeing and tie-dyeing techniques on her 4ply sock yarns to create different kinds of variegated effects:

Blue Moon Sock Yarn   Blue Moon Sock YarnBlue Moon Sock Yarn

Lindsay also dyes heavier weights of yarns with indigo. The most time-consuming part of the process is rinsing, it takes many rinses to get all that loose blue out.

Lindsay showed me the beautiful textiles she brought back from India, some stunning embroidery:

Indian Textiles

Indian Textiles

This is a purse:

Indian Textiles

The free-form shapes and the added buttons are fun on this one, a bodice of a child’s dress:

Indian Textiles

I love how unplanned the designs are – the embroiderer clearly ran out of space at the end of the central panel and had to squish down the size of the squares to fit the space:

Indian Textiles 3

This is a block print sampler piece:

Indian Textiles

Here is some exquisite finely tie-dyed fabric:

Indian Textiles

I love the run-off at the end, which almost looks like bobbing shore lights reflected in water.

Here come the diamonds – a woven geometric design:

Indian Textiles

This was a piece given to Lindsay as a leaving present, and is a good example of typical motifs used in Kutch, Gujarat:

Indian Textiles

These are also Kutch motifs:

Indian Textiles

You can tell which motifs inspired my shawl design:

Gujarati Diamond textiles

Even the triangles from the textile border appear on my edging:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

Lindsay and I had a fun time on the photoshoot for the shawl; I chose to go the Monteath Mausoleum, in the Borders, as it has quite an Indian feel to it:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

As it turns out, it is deliberately Indian style, as General Sir Thomas Monteath, who lies here, was an army officer in the Bengal Infantry.

It was quite an endeavor getting up the hill in a long white dress, and lovely to see the stone lions when we got there. Awake lion:

Awake lion

Sleeping lion:

Sleeping lion

We particularly liked sleepy lion, so we had to include him in the photos:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

There is a spectacular view over the Borders countryside:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

The shawl is a shallow semi-circle, correctly a semi-oval, nearly a crescent, and it’s very wide:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

Perfect to cover your head:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

Or for elegantly draping around your neck to dress up a pair of jeans:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

Or for talking to lions:

Gujarati Diamond shawl


Autumn knitting round-up

I thought it was about time to show you my recent knitting projects. As usual, I always have something on my needles, and the grotty weather we had this Summer made me reach for bright warm colours, as you will see.

I admire very fine lace knitting, and have enjoyed making some lace shawls using 4 ply weight yarn, and really fancied trying knitting with lace weight yarn. I’d had my eye on a small shawl, Alcea, with a beautiful sinuous lace border, and decided to knit myself a red shawl:

Scarlet Alcea shawl

Lace knitting is one of the few times I don’t play about with a pattern, I knit it as instructed, I don’t feel confident enough to adapt it. However each time I knit lace I learn more, so one day… who knows what I’ll come up with. I was very surprised at how different it felt to knit with fine laceweight yarn, I had a terrible tendency to slip stitches off my needles, I really had to watch what I was doing. This is my shawl on Ravelry.

Having followed a pattern dutifully, I wanted to break out a little and adapted this Kissing Koi Mittens pattern into socks:

Kissing Koi socks

I think mittens patterns can translate quite well into socks. The knitting designer, Spilly Jane, often makes sock and mitten versions of her designs. I tweaked the charts provided in the pattern on a photo editing program, and adapted the background to the fish, creating extra bubbles to fill the back of the socks:

Kissing Koi socks back

I also messed around with the self-stripeing yarn: I chopped up 2 balls of yarn, put the same colours together and knitted alternative rows of the same colour to create a more gradual, slower colour change. I used the same technique on this pattern – Noro Ushi scarf – scroll down for photos of chopped up yarn balls. It takes a real control freak to want to control the way self-stripeing yarn stripes!

Like I say, I usually want to tweak patterns, I want them longer/shorter, in a different weight of yarn, I want to use the motif on a different item of clothing etc. I also usually want to make something different, and shy away from very popular patterns, especially if it’s something for me to wear. However some patterns are just so amazing and attractive I can’t resist.

I succumbed to Kate Davies’ Betty Mouat Cowl, especially after she knitted it in a muted colourway. It has been knitted 171 times by knitters on Ravelry, queued to knit 530 times, and favorited 1515 times and was only released this March . I’m a regular reader of Kate Davies’ blog, and there was a photo of of this colourway of the cowl at the top of her blog for several months, and it must have just got to me. So when she announced a kit of the cowl available online, I bought it straightaway. I have knitted the long version:

Betty Mouat Cowl long

546 stitches to cast on! twice! Then graft 546 stitches together at the end! Luckily my desire for the cowl overcame all obstacles, and I’m very happy with it:

Betty Mouat Cowl

I’ve discovered that knitting garter stitch (knit every row) is not my favorite stitch pattern. Some people dislike purl stitch, but for me, inserting my needle into the front loop with the purl bump in my way kinda tenses me up a bit and slows my knitting down. Does anyone else find this? Perhaps I’m knitting it in a “funny” way? I will have to get someone to watch me knitting garter stitch when I’m next at my knitting group. My version of the cowl is here.

Another popular knit I’ve succumbed to is a free pattern – Aidez. This has 2379 projects, is on 7608 queues, and has been favorited 18959 times on Ravelry since it was published in October 2010. It looked so cosy and warm, and is a well fitted and modern take on the traditional cabled cardigan. I’ve not stopped wearing it:

Ruby Red Aidez cardigan

It is a nice, simply written pattern, with written and charted instructions for the cables, and is knitted in separate pieces an sew together. However, I preferred to knit it all-in-one, and found it fairly easy to add up the amount of stitches and knit altogether from the bottom up. I knitted the sleeves circularly, and joined them to the main body when I had reached the underarm cast off section of the main body. My version is on Ravelry here.

IRuby Red Aidez cardigan back

An exciting thing happened to me at a recent meeting of the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. A new lady came along to the meeting, and when we got chatting, she said,

“Aren’t the person who does the Felty Folk blog?”

This is the first time I have met someone who reads my blog, that is not someone I know! Of course, I know her now – Hi Katherine! I hope I see you again soon.

She sometimes comments on my blog, so keep an eye out for her.

Finally, I went for a lovely walk in Shincliffe Woods, County Durham with my friend from Newcastle. The Autumn colours were sublime, and although my photos do not do it justice, I thought I’d share a few with you.

Shincliffe Woods 2

Shincliffe Woods 3

Shincliffe Woods 1

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 (

Colorimetry (

Old Maiden Aunt (

Ripples Crafts (

Skein Queen (

The Yarn Yard (

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 –, 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.

Contemporary art in West Lothian

I came across the Felty Folk again the other day, late on a sunny afternoon. They seemed to be lazing around on a wall:

Felty Folk on the wall

Neeva assured me they were collecting a special type of hairy moss for furnishings in Oosie’s home. I wasn’t convinced: Dod looked particularly relaxed, although Oosie was excitedly scampering about.

“I like to jump around on the moss, it’s bouncy,” she cried.

Oosie on the wall

“That’s why we’re having to collect some again,” Neeva sighed, resignedly. “She keeps ruining it by jumping around.”

Maybe that’s why Neeva and Dod weren’t looking very energetic, this wasn’t the first time… I wished them luck and carried on my way.


West Lothian is not somewhere you would expect to see International Contemporary Art, there are some quirky sculptures along the M8, but you would probably head to Edinburgh on an art quest instead. I heard about  Jupiter Artland in West Lothian when it opened a few years ago, but I had been putting off going there; which was crazy, because walking around parkland looking at contemporary sculptures is something I would really enjoy. My friend from Newcastle suggested we go, and I wasn’t too keen, because it sounded like it was on a vast estate and I would have to walk miles to see everything, which  is difficult for me having M.E. However, I decided it was foolish of me to deny myself pleasure just because I thought I only had enough energy to see part of it, after all, I could return and see the rest another time. So we went, and it was fantastic; and here is a taster for you:

A Forest by Jim Lambie, Jupiter Artland

A Forest - Jim Lambie

This is on the back of the Steading wall, as you pass through the entrance into the parkland. I like this because it’s attractive; it’s shiny and bright coloured and I was intrigued by the technique. I didn’t think about the way it reflected the trees at the time, although I see it clearly now. I took a photo of it from within the trees:

From the forest - to The Forest

The next sculpture is apparent very quickly – a 10 foot high rusty cage and…

Suck by Anish Kapoor

Suck - Anish Kapoor

…a dangerous looking arty hole. I was surprised to find it was by Anish Kapoor initially, but getting closer and looking at the hole, it has the same curved shape he is so obviously fascinated with in his other work. Humans always have an urge to look into a hole in the ground, but if you get too close to this one maybe it could suck you in, like a vortex – it must be why it’s caged.

An 'ole in the ground

Onward to another contemporary art heavyweight – Antony Gormley:

Leg of Firmament by Antony Gormley

Leg of 'Firmament' by Antony Gormley

Apart from his very famous Angel of the North, he has made a number of sculptures filling the human body with nodes and vortices, and cubes. It’s often hard to make out the human figure initially and it’s quite fun walking around identifying the body parts. I liked his name for the piece, because you view the sky through it and the intersecting lines made me think of star maps, and searching the sky to identify the constellations.

Some of the sculptures have to be experienced in real life, and really don’t make sense in a photograph, so I’m not even going to try, I will just say that I loved the Stone House sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy, and you just have to visit and discover it yourself.

The first Weeping Girl I saw reminded me of the scary end scene in the Blair Witch Project film. When you get a little closer, you realise there are a few of the Girls that you search out among the trees, slightly disturbing, but quite sweet.

Weeping Girls by Laura Ford

Weeping Girls - Laura Ford

They looked like they were made from fibreglass, but they were cast metal.

There were a number of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s works through the park, but somehow, they were a little disappointing. I have visited his garden, full of his work at Little Sparta, and his work is more effective en masse, when you are immersed in his world. This one wasn’t too bad:

Temple of Apollo by Ian Hamilton Finlay

Temple of Apollo - Ian Hamilton Finlay

It works well in the location, and I liked stepping into the temple to see the hand carved lettering – I’m a bit of a sucker for letter carving and stone.

Another non-event for me was the Cornelia Parker work, Landscape with Gun and Tree 2010, it’s a realistic but super-sized rifle leaning against a tree, and it didn’t really excite me. Looking at the blurb about it now, it’s referring to a famous Gainsborough painting, Mr and Mrs Andrews, where the man is posing with a rifle, so I can see what she’s getting at, but does it work if you have to explain the reference? I’ve loved her work with suspended objects before though. I was very surprised by the In Memory work, by Nathan Cole, it’s a high concrete wall which looks like a building without a roof, you discover an opening and find the familiar surroundings of a cemetery, with gravestones and flowers, there’s even a bench to sit on (it was very welcome). Although it’s quite ordinary, it somehow creates its own special world, and you are taken to a contemplative place. Quite lovely.

The next sculpture was KNITTED!!
How excited I was!

Over Here by Shane Waltener

Over Here - Shane Waltener

This is a view of it from the wrong side, it was the best way to photograph it. It is approached from the wood and the central hole frames a view across open fields. The way it is pinned out between the trees is like the way a lace shawl is pinned out to dry and give definition to the lace. It’s also a bit like fishing nets hung out to be mended and dried – it’s knitted from 4 strands of fishing line held together.

Knitted fishing line

A great sculpture, and it was knitting, and it made me happy.

We had completed our circuit of the sculptures out the back of the Steadings, and I was now feeling a little weary and in need of a cup of tea. Luckily there was a chromed 50’s caravan serving refreshments in the courtyard. It was all very civilised, a pot of Earl Grey tea, and a Bakewell tart in the cobbled courtyard surrounded by lovely arty things. I was impressed with the attention to detail here: to the standard and quality of The National Trust, but way more cool and arty. The sympathetic and creative restoration and conversion of the Entrance Steading:

Entrance Steading building

The Jupiter Artland logo: a beautiful design and repeated everywhere:

Jupiter boot scraper

The map guide to the park: lino cut illustration by Iain McIntosh. The truly amazing and original iron work gates:

Jupiter Gates

I loved the flowerheads made of chromed nails:

Chromed nails on gates

Lovely things everywhere:

Hartstongue Fern

After refreshments, we headed to the huge Charles Jencks Life Mounds sculpture we had passed by driving in.

Life Mounds by Charles Jencks

His work is familiar, there is one of his pieces outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. This is a vast sculpture, and is a delight for children and adults alike. It really brings out the child in adults too:

Life Mounds by Charles Jencks

Each of the mounds has an inscription, and some ceramic sculptured pieces at the top, and tired as I was I just couldn’t resist going up one:

Me on Life Mound

We had a lovely walk past donkeys, sheep, and an alpaca back to the car. In the car, on the way out, we noticed huge boulders placed in the trees, which we realised was the Stone Coppice sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy, I guess I’ll look at that one properly, next time. I will be going back. A highly recommended day out, and an amazing contemporary art collection.