Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Barcelona Yarn Stores

Amidst all the sightseeing and beach lounging I just couldn't pass an opportunity to visit some Barcelona yarn stores. I visited three, but there were more and I wish I had more time to roam them, but alas, kids and yarn petting don't always go hand in hand.

 First one on the list is All You Knit is Love, located right next to the Picasso Museum. 

A charming store with plenty of character and a very good range of yarn, from your international staples like Malabrigo, Garnstudio and some known sock yarns to locally dyed luxury fibres. The lady behind the counter turned out to be a local yarn dyer, called Greata from Greta and the Fibres, covering up for the owners. Coincidentally, I already picked a couple of her skeins by the time I realised who she was :-) It was fun talking with her about the colour and the palette she works with. [Pardon my blurry phone photos, I only realised the lens was a mess after I left, but I hope you can get the feel of the place regardless of the lack of sharpness here].

The two skeins I picked up at the store are both lace weight with an amazing hand to them. Notice the yardage on one of the labels reads 600m! That should comfortably become a very good sized shawl and I am really looking forward to working with it later this year.

Next one up is Lanas el Globo - Passeig de Sant Joan, 34 - by the Arc de Triomf

A lovely, cosy store with a very good selection of yarn and the sales rep happy to help if you want to see anything. The set up is something I haven't seen in years, where the yarn is stored behind the counter and no browsing that I grew so fond of, you have to actively ask for it to be passed over to you. The choice of yarn is plentiful, however.

Mans i Manigues - This little store was near Lanas el Globo, sort of a street perpendicular to Passeig de Sant Joan.
You can guess from the signage atop of the entrance that it offers Katia yarn only, so if you are looking for any Katia yarns this would be your one stop shop for it. It's tiny, but oh-so adorable and well presented. There are magazines to browse and a small range of accessories on offer as well.

Friday, 15 August 2014

New pattern - Lil Tamzin

Lil Tamzin gathered yoke cardigan pattern by Katya Frankel

Please welcome, Lil Tamzin! Its big sister was popular ever since it was released in 2008 and a number of people had mentioned that they'd love to knit a matching kiddie version.
Although worked to the same gauge, Lil Tamzin is knitted in a lighter weight yarn, than Tamzin was knit in. I used some hand dyed sock / 4 ply that gave the cardigan a gentler feel and allowed for the multitude of stitches to be increased around the collar without the extra bulk.
The pattern is written for sizes 3 months trough 12 years with the finished chest circumference between 18 ¼ and 31 ¼ in / 46 and 78.5 cm, in a total of 10 sizes.

Lil Tamzin gathered yoke cardigan pattern by Katya Frankel

It is worked from the top down in one piece, absolutely seamlessly using 4-ply / fingering weight yarn with the only finishing required is weaving in ends and sewing on the buttons. 
I should also mention that although the cardigan is classed as an intermediate pattern, in reality, it is suitable for an advanced beginner, prepared to tackle a garment, with all the techniques and stitch patterns clearly explained in the pattern.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Back to work

There is nothing quite like taking a few weeks off and transplanting yourself into a completely different environment to relax. This summer we went to Barcelona to see some beautiful architecture, do all the sightseeing our feet could manage and eat, eat, eat.
I haven't taken any work with me, on purpose, but instead a camera and the readiness to soak up inspiration. Barcelona is a beautiful city with plenty to see and do in, from some interesting street art, to markets, to museums, to food and of course, the warm sea. We really don't go on holiday often enough :-)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Catnip and Cat Conference Hats

Some ten months ago I teamed up with the wonderful people behind Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts to design a couple of accessories for the new yarn line they were launching to support the Meow Foundation and quite fittingly called the Meow Collection. A portion of the proceeds of the sale donated to benefit stray and abandoned cats. In the USA donations are made to Best Friends Animal Society, in Canada and internationally donations are made to The Meow Foundation (Ancient Arts is a Canadian company). The yarn bases were all dyed with cat colours in mind, covering a very wide palette from muted greys to some bright ones like Cat's Eye Cobalt or Cat's Eye Green. Check them out over here 
The two designs I worked on were the Catnip and the Cat Conference hats and were fun to work on. The twisted cable pattern pushed my designer comfort zone a little, since I prefer starting with a stitch pattern and then seeing where it takes me in terms of the crown shaping. Whilst here, it had to be thought through beginning with the crown and fitting the wandering pathways into the stitch pattern and then further into the ribbing. It's always challenging working in the opposite direction to the way you used to and it does take more time of course, but the results are often so refreshing.
Both patterns will be coming out soon all ready for your Xmas knitting.*

* you know, you can never be too early with your Xmas knitting, right?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Rivelin scarf pattern

Rivelin [Ravelry link] is the latest addition to my scarf and shawl collection. It is named after the Rivelin Rocks, the peaky straight up rock columns in South Yorkshire (once again, thank you, Karie, for coming up with the name). 

Rivelin scarf pattern by Katya Frankel

Using soft mohair to knit geometrical shapes, the Rivelin scarf is an intuitive and ingenious project. Both ends of the scarf feature a beautiful lacy diamond pattern, whilst its body is knitted on the bias. You begin knitting the scarf with only 3 stitches that grow seamlessly into a triangle, with the stitch count increasing every other row. After reaching its full width, the scarf continues on the bias with lacy columns going parallel with its long edge. 

Rivelin scarf pattern by Katya Frankel

As with many scarves with a short row repeat its length is completely customisable allowing you to maximise yardage.
Once you are happy with the length of your scarf, all that's left to do is work the second triangle to complete it. The triangles are practically a mirror image of one another and the stitch pattern for those is both written and charted so that you can work from whatever form of instructions you are most comfortable with.

A note on yarn - The scarf is worked in mohair lace on 4 mm needles. A very fine, soft and airy fibre with the most wonderful halo that kind of fills the gaps between the stitches as it's knitted up. When you knit such fine yarn on larger size needles, the fabric that's being produced is airy and lacy by its nature with an etherial look to it that's often associated with mohair lace. The result is simply gorgeous.

If you are feeling a little wary of knitting with mohair the pattern has some mohair knitting tips to make your [knitting] life easier. But due to the customisable nature of many scarves, it can be knitted in fibres other than mohair as well. You should expect its drape to change, as well as the size if you decide to substitute the yarn to anything other than mohair, but the stitch pattern is such that it will look great in smooth yarns as well.

Rivelin scarf pattern by Katya Frankel

This particular one was knitted in Temple Juniper by the Yarn Garden that was dyed specially for the Woolfest, I believe you can get in touch with George and Louise of the Yarn Garden to order your skein (did I mention that the whole 76 inch scarf only requires one skein of their mohair lace?) or get it as a kit from their stall at any fibre event in the UK.
    • Difficulty Intermediate - knit, purl, lace knitting, simple decreases and increases, and finishing.
    • Finished Measurements 76 in / 193 cm long and 12 in / 30.5 cm wide.
    • Gauge Each diamond pattern repeat = 3 in wide and 3 ¾ in tall / 7.5 cm wide and 9.5 cm tall, after blocking. Adjust needle size if necessary to get the correct gauge.
    • Yarn Temple Juniper by Yarn Garden UK (72% kid mohair / 28% nylon; 50g / 500 yds / 457 m), in Silver Falls, 1 skein. The yarn amount may vary depending on the weight and type of the yarn you are using.
    • Needles and Notions Size 4mm (US6) needles. Adjust needle size if necessary to get the correct gauge. Split marker or safety pin, tapestry needle.