Pushing up Daisies and Camellia

I have just published two new knitting patterns, Camellia and Dreaming Daisy shawl. This is Camellia:


The name came from the photos of the wristwarmers by the Camellia bushes in Durham Botanical Gardens. They had a working title of Victorian wristwarmers as I was thinking of the fine mittens the women wore at that time.

This pattern has been a long time coming, due to the slow down and concentration problems I experienced having M.E., the pattern got shelved many times. It started back in 2008, I had knitted the Garbo jacket from Sculptured Knits by Jean Moss, and I liked the textural quality of the faggoted rib in the pattern, and picot edges and flared lace inserts in the hems of some of the other patterns. I wanted to incorporate these ideas into some wristwarmers I wanted to make for presents for Christmas, but was struggling to make it work. I was discussing my problems with Kate Davies at our local knitting group, and she suggested that I decreased into the wrist and back out again to incorporate the lace inserts, which is what I did.

The first pair I made were in black angora for my friend Sacha:

Victorian Wristwarmers 1

in a light DK/Sport weight. I then fell in love with a dusty mauve yarn in my local yarn shop – Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran, and had to adapt the pattern for the heavier weight yarn. I made these for Alice:

Victorian Wristwarmers 2

Then I wanted a pair for me and went back to a lighter weight yarn – Rowan Felted Tweed:

Victorian Wristwarmers 3

I wore these until they wore out and had loads of holes. I then saw Alice in her chunkier version of the gloves again and decided they were better.

So I made myself these green ones in the Donegal Tweed 2 years ago and tidied up the pattern a bit:

Camellia on gate post

I was still struggling to make sense of the pattern, and then recently I bought a knitting design program – Stitchmastery, created by Cathy Scott in my knitting group, and that helped to finally get me to the end of the pattern. A real exercise in patience and perseverance.


The other pattern is Dreaming Daisy shawl, which conversely is the quickest pattern I have designed and published.

Dreaming Daisy Shawl

I started it because I took Amy Singer’s Plug and Play shawl tutorial on Craftsy. Amy is the founder and editor of the online knitting magazine Knitty.com, and I attended a workshop with her in Glasgow, so I knew she explained things in a clear and practical manner. I also knew about the Plug and Play concept because of the Pembrokeshire retreats she ran with Brenda Dayne from Cast-on.com.

I love knitting lace shawls, but I felt a bit out of my depth designing one, so this tutorial was great for simplifying the design process with lace and enabled me to come up with this design.

Dreaming Daisy Shawl width

The shawl is a combination of a bold daisy motif which bounces along the waves of the Feather and Fan stitched based lace pattern. The slow self-striping/ombre/gradient yarn stripes alternating with the solid colour stripes adds to the strobing movement across the waves. I found the simple lace patterns, with plenty of plain knit and purl rows made this a fairly simple shawl to knit, with enough detail to keep you interested.

Dreaming Daisy Shawl waves

I’m looking forward to see what colour combination knitters come up with for this shawl. It could be completely knitted in one colour, or you could use a semi-solid dyed yarn instead of solid for the main yarn, or you could do every stripe a different colour! I hope to be surprised!

You will be able to buy the nice shiny new printed versions of these patterns from me at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, this Saturday and Sunday 14th-15th March, and my Tulips for Margaret pattern for £4.00 each. I have also got some greeting cards of the Felty Folk available. I am on the Craft Tree stall which is run by members of the Tea Tree Tea group in Edinburgh, we have been kindly given this opportunity in return for volunteer work throughout the Festival by Mica and Jo, who are also members of our group. Thanks Mica and Jo. Please come and find us, there are also lovely handmade items made by other members of the group. I’m really looking forward to squidging yarn and meeting everyone at the Festival.

Thanks to Sacha Man for modelling my shawl, and Kelly Golf and S. Miller for the use of their photos.



St Abbs Wool Festival

I headed over to the lovely fishing village of St. Abbs for a regular Wool Festival event, which I’ve never managed to get to. St. Abbs is on the North East coast of Scotland just North of Berwick-upon-Tweed, so not too far for me to travel for Lauder. I was looking forward to it, and the sun was shining, and it was beginning to feel a bit like Spring! I’ve just got a new car, with a Sat Nav, after being without a car for a year, and it was quite a novelty to be able to just go somewhere without excessive planning for bus times etc. However, I’ve only been to St. Abbs once before, so this time I was trying out driving to the Sat Nav directions. They were very good, but after encountering some scary bends, and an unexpected single track road, and just not knowing exactly where I was, I felt a little frazzled when I got to St Abbs:

St Abbs Harbour

I was eager to see yarn though, so I dived in and perused the stalls, stopping briefly to say Hello to Janice from Flight Weaving and Laura Brittain, a fantastic felter, I know them both from the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, and Lindsay Roberts, The Border Tart, who I’ve mentioned before in this post:

Lindsay Roberts stall

She’s been dyeing yarn with indigo. I haven’t seen anyone doing a just indigo range before, I think she’s been inspired by her trips to India.

Bordertart Indigo yarn

The St Abbs Wool Festival was spread between two close venues, the Ebba Centre and the St Abbs Visitor Centre and it was really busy where I was, and I was still feeling a bit frazzled, so I headed to the other venue. I stopped to take a look at the view of St. Abbs Head, which is looked after by the National Trust for Scotland, and is a popular place for walkers.

St Abbs Head

There was a striking sculpture at the entrance to the Visitors Centre:

St Abbs Bronze1

It marks a fishing disaster in 1881:

bronze label

The distressed women and children are still looking out to sea for the men who will not return – I found it quite moving:

St Abbs Bronze2

There were demonstrations, rather than yarn sales in the Visitors Centre, and more people I knew – Eve Studd from Cornhill Crafts (more about Eve from this post) was showing examples of natural dyes and was making a rug on a peg loom, and Rod from Innerleithen Spinning Wheels was busy getting people to try out spinning on his fabulous wheels. In fact they were so busy, I didn’t get a chance to chat to them.

Some quite detailed wet felting was going on from Anna Turnbull as part of the Woolscape project:

felting a fish

The Visitors Centre were encouraging people to sign up to the project newsletter and April workshops, and knit/crochet/felt fishes and other sea life, like this:

crocheted rockpool

crochet coral and whale

I don’t often get involved in this type of project, but I liked that they were making specific sea life, and had books you could look at for ideas. As I work in a Museum Library, which has lots of natural sciences books, I thought I could get some inspiration there, use up some of my yarn stash odds and ends, and create some undersea flora and fauna. I’ll let you know how I get on, and any more news I hear about the project.

I was feeling in need of a cuppa, and a bit of a respite from the busy festival, but the café in the Ebba Centre was full, so I went and sat in the car and had a snack and a little rest. I wasn’t ready to go back into the hustle and bustle, and I remembered that Louise from Woolfish was having an open house, and had yarn for sale, so I drove back up the hill and felt welcome, and had a lovely time rummaging through the yarn, and was offered a cuppa, and a cheese scone, and I was soon relaxing with a bit of knitting in the comfy conservatory, and chatting to like-minded people. I bought some practical yarn for knitting man’s garments.

Louise used to have a shop on the road into St Abbs, but she is now focusing on her knitting retreats, which sound great; have a look at one of her itineraries. I was chatting to Louise about knitting styles, which I have written a post about, and she showed me her way of knitting Continental style, which she linked to how you hold your yarn to crochet. It made it seem a more feasible prospect the way she showed me, so I reckon her retreats must be very helpful, and would move on your knitting skills quite considerably, while having a relaxing time.

Feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated – the power of tea and knitting! I returned to the Ebba Centre and said Hello to the Wensleydale sheep outside:

Wensleydale Sheep

Sheep sign

The fleece from these sheep is made into lustrous Whistlebare yarn:

Whistlebare yarn

Whistlebare stall

I am making a cardigan from Wensleydale sheep yarn at the moment and it’s a lovely wool to knit with, and gives good stitch definition, with a slight halo and shine.

I was very impressed with the yarn from Yarn Garden, and their innovative garden-themed display.

Yarn Garden

I wish I had taken a close up photo of their yarn. They are a new company from Newcastle; go and check out their scrumptious yarn on their website. They said they were going to be introducing some new base yarns, but they haven’t made it to their website as I write, so keep an eye on it or “like” them on Facebook to get status updates.

I ended off my day buying some Pumpkin colourway yarn from the Border Tart, she is great with colours and blends different colours of fleece before she hand spins it:

Bordertart pumpkin yarn

I remembered there was a great gallery just outside St Abbs, so I thought I’d have a look around before I went home. I liked the view of St Abbs Church from the gallery:

View from Number 4 Gallery

I got tempted in the gallery and bought a beautiful small bowl – it makes me think of shallow rippling waves on the beach.

Pottery bowl

More photos of the St Abbs Wool Festival on the St Abbs Visitor Centre website.

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2013

This may be a very “gushy” blog post, with multiple instances of “lovely” and “fabulous”; please forgive me, I was overwhelmed by attending the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival on Saturday.

You know how we all sit about and say ” wouldn’t it be lovely if…?” Three women, Jo, Mica and Linda, from my knitting group – Tea Tree Tea Knitters in Edinburgh, finished and fulfilled the wish, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a Yarn Festival in Edinburgh, and invite some of the best fibre/knitting people in Scotland and beyond to come along?” It really happened, and I was there.

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2013, Drill Hall

It was very busy, right from the start, I heard they’d had 1500 people come through the door. As this was the first festival, we had no idea just how much interest there would be, and it was quite a risk for the organisers.

Maybe it was a little too busy? Look at the queue for the café:

Café Queue

For anyone who is interested in knitting/crochet spinning etc., a Yarn Festival is a pretty exciting event; but for me it was more exciting than usual as I knew the organisers, the volunteers, many of the stall holders, and other knitting friends  were there too. I felt like I was included in a huge family party, and there was yarn there too!

I guess I should introduce you to the family:

Mica from Yarnpony

Mica (Ravelry: lillebrit)  one of the festival organisers, who recently started her own hand dyed yarn business YarnPony. Her lovely yarn:


A very busy stall indeed. Poor Fiona (Ravelry: AuntieFona), Verena (Ravelry: nangijala) and Nicola (Ravelry: nightswimmer),  were quite worn out after selling yarn all day (pictured left to right):

Fiona, Nicola and, helping out on the YarnPony stall

I found Cathy (Ravelry: FunkyOrange), creator of Stitchmastery, and festival sponsor, volunteering on the festival merchandise stand:

Cathy - Stitchmastery

Wearing her newly finished Levenwick cardigan.

Mementos of Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2013

Jane (Ravelry: caleydocious) was selling her Caleydocious patterns, stitchmarkers, and gorgeous teddy bear patterns and kits:

Jane and Bears

Opposite Jane’s stall was Lindsay Roberts (Ravelry: bordertart), who lives in the Borders like me. She trades as the Border Tart, and has recently returned from an artist’s residency in India:

Lindsay Roberts - The Border Tart

Like me, she likes her bright colours, and I always find her goodies hard to resist. Here are her handspun yarns and embellishment kits:

Border Tart handspun yarn    Border Tart Embellishment kits

I was surprised to find Catriona (Ravelry: cat2832) had a stall, and ran her own business – Spin Pretty:

Catriona - Be Inspired Fibres     Spin Pretty

Natalie (Ravelry: theyarnyard) from the Yard Yard in West Lothian was there with her hand dyed yarns and embroidery silks:

Natalie - Yarn Yard

Linda (Ravelry: craftyally), another one of the organisers, was selling her hand made vintage inspired knitting bags.

Linda from Craftyally     Craftyally bags

Mei (Ravelry: magimix) was so busy every time I went to her Be Inspired Fibres stall, I didn’t get a chance to chat to her:

Mei, Be Inspired Fibres

I managed to catch Ysolda (Ravelry: ysolda) later in the afternoon, having a bit of a knit with Becca (Ravelry: bleideag); Sarah (Ravelry: saz), who works with them must have disappeared when she saw me coming with my camera.

Ysolda and Becca

It’s great to see knitted up samples of knitting designers patterns in “real-life”. Ysolda is wearing her Blank Canvas jumper, and here is her bunny and elephant Sophie and Elijah:

Ysolda's Sophie and Elijah

And her hats (left to right), Rose Red, Oxidize, Hendreary and the robot Trinket:

Ysoldas Hat's

Some of the other friends I had chats and cuppas with were Jackie (Ravelry: beshabar), who was on the yarn winding service table, and wearing a lovely soft colourway of the Betty Mouat Cowl, a shorter version of the one I made:

Jackie - Ball Winding

Jo from local crafting group Craft Reactor (she also works with me at the National Museum of Scotland) who was helping turn a cow into a sheep with donated pompoms, knitting and crochet:

Jo and Craft Reactor Sheep

Lovely Liz (Ravelry: Tiffin) and colourful Jenni (Ravelry: Wangaratta1961):

Liz    Jenni

It’s also a good opportunity to get chatting to new people. Amanda (Ravelry: OwlPrintPanda) from OwlPrintPanda, and her friend, Sarah (Ravelry: porcini) of Porcini & Button were very friendly:

Amanda and friend from OwlPrintPanda

and look at their cute fox and badger purses:

Foxy and Badger

Susan Crawford and her husband were lovely, shame the photo I took of them didn’t come out; but here is their stall.

Susan Crawford Vintage

Susan specialises in re-writing vintage knitting patterns for modern knitters. I think she is the best designer doing this, and I really want that book on the right – A Stitch in Time, Vol 2. She has also brought out her own line of vintage inspired yarn, Excelana, which I enjoyed “squidging”. Great to meet a bit of a knitting hero of mine.

Other inspiring stalls were Old Maiden Aunt yarns:

Old Maiden Aunt yarns

Beautiful jewel-like colours, it was a real struggle to elbow my way into that stall.

I never really managed to get a good look at the Skein Queen stall, you can see how busy they are re-stocking here:

Skein Queen

Afterwards, I remembered seeing a cute fox toy behind the stall, it caught my eye as I was struggling to get though a bottle-neck between two stalls. It was the Not-So-Intrepid fox, from the Intrepid Fox pattern; Debbie from Skein Queen said, “he has many adventures throughout the country, so is indeed intrepid after all!”

The other stall caught in the bottleneck was the button stall, Textile Garden, which I think is the best online button shop.

Textile Garden    Textile Garden Buttons

I eventually managed to get my hands on some buttons.

It was  good day for people watching too. I loved this lady in her stripy hat being shown a Scottie Dog cushion on the Strathern Fleece and Fibre stall:

Strathearn Fleece & Fibre

It was interesting to see what knitting patterns you recognised people wearing. There’s Ysolda’s Chickadee on the right, and can anyone recognise that striped shawl in the middle? – (Shawl has been identified by the owner, see comments below, Daybreak by Stephen West)

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2013, Café and Drill Hall

I did partake in a bit of retail therapy – it was impossible to resist:

My Stash from Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2013

Gorgeous glowing green 50% merino/silk 4 ply from Old Maiden Aunt, so soft and squidgy. Sophie project bag from Ysolda. An Inspired by India goodie bag of Indian fabrics and trimmings from the Border Tart:

Indian Inspiration

Snake buttons from Textile Garden, and skull stitch marker from Spin Pretty:

Snake Buttons

Golden yellow yarn from YarnPony to combine with violet yarn, previously bought from the Yarn Yard, to make some colourwork socks, based on this Spilly Jane mittens pattern – Mystery and Manners.

Yarn Pony Yellow and Yarn Yarn Violet

There were many other people I enjoyed spending time with on the day, including – Laura, Alison, Kersti, Emma, Naomi, Rachel, Janet, Margaret, Laura, Louisa, Imogene, Kristen, Michele, Muriel. How lucky I am to be surrounded by such a creative and supportive community. It was a very inspiring and joyous day.

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.


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