What Natalie Knits – Maude Sweater

I have recently been casting a critical eye over my wardrobe, especially my handmade wardrobe and have been thinking a lot on how it can be improved. I have a good stash of hand knit sweaters, and they do the job of keeping me warm, so I can’t complain too much in that department. However, I have slowly lost some weight over the last couple years with some healthier eating and being more active, so all of my sweaters are too big. Part of this stems from having knit them all a bit roomy originally, but something that is a little too big then quickly becomes quite a lot too big. So I’ve been feeling swamped by my sweaters, and not at all stylish or fashionable.

Maude1Luckily as a knitter this is a splendid excuse to knit more! First up was Maude by Caarin Fleischmann, from an old issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. I found 6 balls of Wool and the Gang Sheepaca in my stash, and with a bit of gauge wrestling I cast on over the Christmas holidays. The yarn is listed as an aran, but it’s really a DK, so swatches are absolutely necessary with this yarn. The pieces came together relatively quickly for a DK weight yarn as the cabled fronts and backs were perfect for loads of travel we did around Ireland visiting family. The sleeves zipped along when we got back as the knit and purl texture was perfect for my purse. After seaming it up last week, I haven’t taken it off!

Maude4The Sheepaca was surprisingly lovely to work with. I’ve struggled with wearing alpaca next to my skin before, especially near my neck, but I’ve had no problem with this yarn. The 50/50 wool and alpaca blend is just delicious. The wool evens it out and gives it a lovely stitch definition for the cables, and the alpaca ups the warmth a bit which is perfect for working at the shop which can get a bit drafty if the temperatures really dip.
Maude2Even better is that it fits and I feel like it’s upped my wardrobe! I’ve worn it with jeans and skirts and over dresses, and over collared shirts which is perfect. In classic white it’s done really well with transitioning from everyday casual to something a bit fancier. I made 2 changes to the design that I knew would make it fit into my wardrobe even more than if I left it as is. First off I lengthened the sleeves to full length, and secondly I did a more traditional crew neck. To do the neck I started the scoop about an inch earlier than the pattern. Then I picked up stitches and knit about an inch of ribbing before casting off, unlike the pattern which has you knit longer and then fold it over and sew it down, which causes the neckline to stick out a bit. I think it looks lovely in the pattern, but I knew I was looking for something a bit more traditional for this sweater.
Maude3 I’ll admit I’m totally hooked to this sweaters-that-fit concept and I’m motivated to keep going! I’m thinking that a Muna sweater in chocolate brown might be up next, or maybe Rocquaine in natural pale grey Plötulopi?

Also thanks to Maya who took these pictures of me when we went to Edinburgh Yarn Fest a few weeks ago!

Interpretations Vol. 4

Interpretations-Volume-4-CoverInterpretations Vol 4 has arrived! This years installation to the project by designers Veera Välimäki and Joji Locatelli follows perfectly and does not disappoint. Published by Pom Pom Quarterly, it was released this past weekend at Unravel Festival

The idea behind the project is that together the designers pick 6 words and then each design a piece based on that word, for a total of 12 projects. The words for this year’s book are gather, chromatic, magic, fragile, direction and hidden. The resulting projects reveal the different interpretations of the words from each designer. While the words are in English, neither designer speaks it as their first language, which makes the cultural influences that much more interesting. Coming from opposite sides of the globe, Veera from Finland and Joji from Argentina, the book and the designs speak to the ways design sensibilities can converge with knitting wherever you are.

One of the things we love about Veera and Joji’s patterns is that they bridge the line between wearability and interest in a both practical and interesting way. They often use stripes, construction and texture to turn something that would otherwise be rather boring into a more exciting and dynamic piece.

East or West by Joji is the most obvious use of the construction and colour. The centre panel is knit vertically in rib, and then the side panels and sleeves are knit in stripes off of that main piece. This construction creates vertical stripes easily, and plays the textural stripe of the rib off of the colour stripes very effectively.

East-or-West

Another sweater by Joji, Wishes is one that may at first glance seem boring, but on second look reveals itself to be entirely practical and much more interesting than first thought. The top down sweater is knit in 4ply silk and in black, which to any knitter who has knit a sweater sounds like and endless slog! And black, how uninspiring! However, I’m sure all of us have a shop bought thin machine knit black cardigan in our closet that gets reached for regularly. Not to mention of course, that when knitting one’s own sweater there are a hundred other colours to choose from! The top down nature makes it easy to get started, and the construction of the swingy body is done through some well placed eyelet rows every couple of inches that are sure to keep the knitter engaged.

Wishes

Speaking of texture and interesting construction, Joji’s Radiate has also caught our eye. Another top down sweater, this one uses the yoke increases to create a radiating stripe with two colours in rib that also serves as a sort of ombre effect on an otherwise plain pullover.

Radiate-.Interpretations-Volume-4.-Pom-Pom-Press

We now have 30 colours of Léttlopi in stock and have been playing around with the colours, we are therefore loving the options for knitting Veera’s Double Trouble jacket! The sweater is knit in three pieces, two fronts in one colour and the back in another. The garter stitch pieces are then seamed together to create something that while completely simple can be as exciting as your colour choices. The light grey and charcoal of the original are timeless, but what about coral pink and black, or navy and light blue?

Double-Trouble

The collection is not all sweaters, there are a few accessories as well. One of our favourites is the Tourmaline snood by Veera. The ribbed texture gives way to cables of varying size for a meaty texture that is also reversible for a versatile snood to wear everyday.

Tourmaline

We have Volume 4 up online and in store right now! The books all also come with a digital download code.

Beeswax Mitts

Who doesn’t love a quick knit?! We recently knit up these sweet Beeswax Mitts by Amy van de Laar in Juniper Moon Findley DK, using just one ball in Garnet!  The honeycomb effect in the stitch pattern is done with small cables and a knit/purl texture. Bonus, there is also a pattern for a matching hat and snood if you want a full set. The yarn has the perfect amount of stitch definition to really make a texture like this pop, and the wool/silk blend is warm and soft as well.

Bee_Mitts

You can check out/try on our sample in the shop the next time you are in. The pattern is available through Ravelry online or through the In-Store program.

If you are interested in learning how to knit cables, check out our upcoming classes!

Getting to Know: Woolly Wormhead

We are ridiculously excited to be welcoming knitting super hero Woolly Wormhead – hosting, not just one, but two brilliant workshops at Knit with attitude. Focusing on construction and techniques renown designer, independent publisher, traveller, textile artist and all around hat geek Woolly will guide us through knitting in the round and turning sideways. Both workshops will be on the Saturday, January 30th, so why not make a day out of it! We’ve created a blog reader’s special offer – when signing up for both workshops – enter code WOOLLY into your cart and receive £10 off! We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

And while we wait for the big day – we’ve asked Woolly to tell us a bit more about herself. Happy reading!

Tucked Hat

Tucked by Woolly Wormhead

How long have you been knitting?
My Mum taught me when I was 3 years old, so this year marks 42 years of knitting! (that makes me feel rather old…..)


What inspired you to get into teaching?
I used to be an Art, Design & Textiles teacher for 11 to 19 yo, and so teaching knitting feels like a natural progression. I find pattern writing and teaching overlap – the same knowledge can be applied to both.
Marina Hat

Marina by Woolly Wormhead

You have written many books focused on Hats. What it it about heads that provides so much inspiration for you?
I consider Hats to be wearable sculptures – well engineered 3D forms. Prior to teaching I trained in Textiles Arts, specialising in conceptual and sculptural textiles. Prior to that I was an electronics engineer, and in my mind, designing Hats brings all of these elements together.

Is there a particular shape or stitch pattern that you are drawn to at the moment?
Short rows have always been a favourite, as has sideways construction. I’m enjoying tucks at the moment, combining them with short rows. And garter stitch – it’s simplicity lends itself very well to all types of construction and approaches!
Alveare Hat

Alveare by Woolly Wormhead

What is your design process? Do you start with a shape or a texture, or does it start with the yarn?
A bit of both – sometimes the yarn speaks, sometimes I see a stitch pattern and sometimes I see a structure or form somewhere that I’d like to try and recreate in knitted form.

Are you a process or product knitter?
Process, totally! Similarly I’m a process designer, although I do consider the product, too. But the process doesn’t end with the Hat – it extends into the photography and the wearing and the wearing, and taking the Hats to trunk shows to be tried and exhibited and so on. It’s all part of the process, I guess.
Bimitral Hat

Bimitral by Woolly Wormhead

What are you currently knitting?
I’ve a jumper and a dress on the needles for myself *somewhere* but it’s been so long since I had the time to knit for myself that I’m not even sure where to pick them up again. I do have a few Hats on my needles, though.

 

 

Getting to Know: Clare Devine

One of our guest teachers is Clare Devine, who is teaching ‘Two at a Time Anything’ on Saturday November 14th from 12-3pm here at the shop. Clare is about to swap windy UK for sunny Australia, and will be moving overseas at the end of the year. We are so glad she found time in her schedule to do a workshop with us – and what a cool workshop this is! Do you live in fear of encountering second sock / mitt / sleeve syndrome? Why not learn to knit two at a time. This technique is perfect for socks but works equally well with mittens and sleeves.

Working on Clare’s Crumpet Mitt pattern you will in this class learn how to cast on and knit two circular items at once on a long circular needle and how to create a pair of mittens with afterthought thumbs. There is more information about the class on the website, and you can call the shop to book your spot.

We thought we would do a little interview with Clare to find out more about her inspirations as a knitter and as a teacher.

Crumpet_1

How long have you been knitting?
I started knitting when I was travelling in Australia during 2010. The story goes that I wanted to buy a hand knitted hat in this cute little shop but my budget conscious husband suggested it might not be the best use of my limited dollars. He was probably right – although at the time my stubborn streak stepped in and I decided I was going to knit my own hat, and I did. The rest, as they say, is history.

My grandmother was a very talented knitter but we lived at opposite ends of the globe (she was in the UK and I grew up in South Africa) so while there was a little bit of childhood knitting I only really caught the knitting bug later on in life.

What inspired you to get into teaching?
I love teaching. While we were in Australia I taught English as an additional language and in South Africa I qualified as a high school English and History teacher. Education is such a huge part of my life. When we moved to Scotland I wanted something that would fit alongside caring for my little girl – teaching knitting part time seemed like a natural progression. I love nothing more than helping people learn new skills and watching them enjoy their knitting more.

You grew up in South Africa, then lived in Australia, then Scotland and now England. Do you feel like there are differences in the knitting culture in these different places?
In all honesty there isn’t a huge knitting culture in South Africa. It is pretty warm most of the year and while people do knit there is not the same range of knitwear wearing opportunities as there are in the colder northern climes. My grandma used to send us cosy Aran jumpers but we never really got to wear them. The knitting community in South Africa is certainly growing though and there are many interesting indy dyers and designers emerging.

My experience of the knitting community in Australia is limited but I cannot wait to start finding a new fibre community there next year once we have settled (we are moving in early 2016).

One thing I will miss about the UK knitting scene is the wide range of fibres and yarns available. Coming from South Africa I was truly spoiled for choice here.

Through designing patterns you have worked with a wide variety of companies. Can you tell us about how collaboration is important to you and your business?
Collaboration is key for me – I love working with other people. It is always so inspiring forming bonds with other creative folk. Often this work can be quite isolating as being a freelancer I tend to work from home alone a lot. Working with other like-minded fibre lovers keeps me sane and provides a constant source of inspiration and motivation.

We are seeing more and more online shops dominating the market. You have collaborated quite a lot with Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh. What role do you think bricks ’n mortars shops play with modern knitters?
There is nothing like having a local yarn shop. When we arrived in Edinburgh the first thing I did was look for a local yarn shop – finding Ginger Twist Studio quite literally changed my life! The community that grows from a great local yarn store can’t be compared to online. That said, online communities are so important too. The community I have found online has shaped and formed my life over the last few years. I have met so many inspiring, knowledgeable and kind people connected to the fibre community through online channels – many who are now ‘real life’ friends. As with all things it is about balance. That said ….. long live the local yarn store!!!

Are you a process or product knitter?
I think it depends what I am knitting and when. The process of designing is what I love most. Finding a way to make the yarn shine or to incorporate a stitch pattern that doesn’t just slot in are part and parcel of that process. I also love construction, especially sock construction and that is all about the process. Then there are times when I want something quick and easy because I have fallen in love with a skein and want to wear it, or more likely have decided I am freezing and need some new knitwear.

Back to school with our classes

There’s new notebooks in the shops, and all the kids are wearing too-big uniforms, that means it’s time for back to school! If you’re itching to learn something new, but aren’t part of the school age set, why not a knitting class?

We’ve got a full range of knitting and crochet classes available, from never knit before before beginners to our renown master classes with some very exciting teachers. We’ll be announcing the master classes over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for those! In the mean time you can get started or brush up on skills.

First up we have the basics. Our learn to knit classes span two weeks, for 2 hours from 6:30-8:30 each evening. The next one is Thursdays October 22 and 29, and another session on Tuesdays November 3 and 10. This class is perfect for absolute beginners who have never picked up a needle before, or if it’s been a long time and you’d like a refresher. you will learn to cast on, the knit stitch, casting off, and some finishing techniques.

If you’ve got a handle on the basics but are looking to expand your knitting skills we have a few great options that will help you level up. The first one is Tech knitting – how to read knitting patterns. What’s a k2tog and how do you ktbl? This class will take the mystery out of all those abbreviations and help make sense of what it all means. The next class is on Saturday October 17, from 1-2:30pm.

The next levelling up class that is great for knitters of all levels is Sewing Up and Finishing. This class covers many techniques to give your finished knits a really polished and professional look. Feel free to bring any projects that need finishing along to the class and the instructor will take a look at it and advice on the best methods. The date for this class is Tuesday October 27, from 6:30-9:30pm.

ws_minisock_hr

We’ve also got two sock knitting classes if you are looking to take on the ultimate knitting accessories. One is a mini sock, which means you’ll have all the skills needed to tackle a full sized sock on your own. The date for this class is Wednesday October 21, from 7-9pm.

If you want to turn socks on their head, why not try knitting them from the toe up? This clever method means that you’ll never have to worry about running out of yarn, you can knit them until you run out! It’s also a great way to learn a few more unusual knitting techniques that are handy for a variety of other projects as well. This class runs for two weeks on Thursdays November 5th and 12th, from 7-9pm.

If knitting isn’t catching your fancy, we also have learn to crochet classes. Our next class is this Saturday September 26, from 10:30-1pm. You’ll learn all everything to make one of the most common crochet pieces, the granny square! This is a great building block for future crochet projects and skills.

If you have a little crochet experience and are looking for a next project, why not learn to make a stuffed toy? The Edward’s Menagerie book is a great collection of animals that are sure to appeal to children and adults. Even better, they are great skill builders. This class includes the book, so you don’t have to choose to make just one! This class is on October 10, from 3-5pm.

EM_FINALCOVER2.indd

Of course, if you’ve got a specific technique in mind, or have gotten stuck on a project we are always available for a one on one private lesson as well. Just let us know and we will arrange an instructor for a time that works for you!

Check out our class page for more information on each class and booking information. Don’t worry if you can’t make a time, we’ll be adding lots more in the coming weeks as well. We hope to see you soon!