Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Yarn Stories

Yarn Stories

There is something I've been itching to share for months and months, some very exciting news of a new British brand of yarn entering the market! Premium yarn of a superb quality that knits like butter.
Yarn Stories is spun in a Yorkshire mill by people who are well established in yarn manufacturing and have all the know-how of first rate yarn production, people who had a dream of bringing us, the hand knitters, a yarn of an exceptional quality.

I can tell you they were a joy to work with from the start, from planning the projects to putting the colours together to see those can used to showcase the palette range, it was all part of an exciting adventure. I am both humbled and proud to be part of such talented designers who's work I've hugely admire. 

Here's to the new beginnings! 

Junko hat and mitt pattern by Katya Frankel for Yarn Stories

Amelia sweater pattern by Katya Frankel for Yarn Stories
I'll be back to tell you about each one of my designs in detail soon.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

How to: Centred Double Decrease

Centred Double Decrease, CDD or sl2kp2*, is something I use often in my patterns and is a very nice double decrease that's truly centred; perfect for when you need a prominent vertical running along the fabric. Here's how to:

Insert your right needle into the first two sts from left to right and slip them onto the right needle together (they will appear rearranged on your right needle and this step is intentional)
knit the following stitch
pass the two slipped stitches over the knit stitch, together
the finished double decrease with the centre stitch on top
*This decrease is often referred to as sl2kp2 or s2kp2 = slip 2, knit, pass 2 [over]

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Head to Toe – Head Things – Duergar

Last year, as Head to Toe came out I wanted to have a good in-depth series on stitch patterns or construction highlights, but somehow by the time the book was ready to be shipped I was busy with the interviews for its blog tour, and then spring knitting was on everybody's minds, and it got put off. Now, however, that we're in the midst of Autumn and everyone's busy with their gift knitting, it feels like the perfect time to bring back the conversation and flaunt these Head to Toe designs once again.

Head to Toe: Kids' Knit Accessories book by Katya Frankel
The patterns in the book are divided into four chapters:
Head Things,
Neck Things,
Hand Things, and
Foot Things
with each one encompassing a range of items from quick-to-knit-basics that you can whip up in a couple of hours, to those that need a little more time and concentration as you're working on them. I tried to spread the projects equally between the difficulty ratings to make sure that every knitter finds something they'd like to make, but at the same time builds up their skills progressing through the book. Another part of the book I must mention before moving onto the first project is the one preceding the patterns - Things to Know - and covers things such as swatching, sizing, ease, little tips and how-to's and essential techniques that you might need while working on the patterns.
Without further ado, I'm starting with a pattern from Head Things, the hat that's on the right in the photo above, Duergar and is easily one of my favourite ones in the book.
Duergar hat pattern by Katya Frankel from Head to Toe: Kids' Knit Accessories

The stitch pattern of the brim and the side panel that grows out of the brim is a simple rib made to stand out by twisting the knit stitches as you work them. It's a simple, yet very effective stitch, but the main feature of Duergar is of course its crown.

Duergar hat pattern by Katya Frankel from Head to Toe: Kids' Knit Accessories
Inspired by the raglan construction of a sweater shoulder, it is shaped from the sides inwards instead of a familiar spiral. The crown shaping gives it a little extra structure and at the same time closes off the side panel rather perfectly towards the top.
The hat is worked in Knit Picks Swish Worsted and only requires a skein of yarn to make any one of the sizes.

Monday, 13 October 2014

How to: Slip stitch colourwork

I was talking to somebody about slipstitch colourwork recently and it turns out the technique is not very well known and because my latest cowl pattern in Knitscene Winter 2014 uses this exact technique, I thought I'd do a little how-to post to cover it.

ETA - After a little reflection on mosaic, I think the lack of familiarity here is really the lack of recognition, because in truth slipped stitches are used often in knitting. Just think of heel flaps, brioche, faux seams, slip-stitch cables or even horizontal floats; all of them use slipped stitches of one sort or another. Here, by introducing another colour we're simply accentuating these slipped stitches and as a result creating some beautiful patterns and the slightly nubbly, warped texture that come with them.

Slip stitch colourwork encompasses a whole range of different stitch patterns, from stocking stitch and garter based that often create a picture-like pattern, to geometric mosaic (these are more rigid in appearance), and to those that include cables or purl stitches to create texture and movement of the stitch pattern. You can easily use more than two colours to work such patterns or even use variegated yarn as your base or your contrasting colour, but no matter how simple or complex the stitch pattern is, all of them will rely on the same rules:
  1. You only work with one colour/strand of yarn at a time 
  2. Each colour is worked over two rows
  3. The Right Side row always sets the pattern and the Wrong Side row duplicates it
  4. Some of the stitches in a row will be slipped and that's what creates the pattern

In this simple swatch the boxy pattern is created by slipping the green (main colour) stitches while working the contrasting colour rows. 
The pattern is worked in multiples of 4 stitches over 8 rows with the red border marking a single repeat.

First the two rows of stocking stitch are worked with main colour. On row 3 the contrast colour (blue) is joined and as you can see that all the magic of creating that mosaic effect is happening on the following two rows. Slipping some of the green stitches, unworked, onto the right hand needle creates an elongated V on the right side of fabric. These V's sort of sit atop of the fabric pulled up from the 2nd row until you work them again in row 5.

I will go over the stitch pattern row by row to show you how it's done here:
Row 1: With main colour (MC) knit.
Row 2: With MC purl.
Row 3: With contrast colour (CC) knit 2 sts, slip next stitch purl-wise on to the right needle with yarn in back, k1.
Repeat the step above to end of your row. You should see the pattern starting to emerge.
Row 4: With CC *purl 2 stitches, slip the following stitch purl-wise on to the right hand needle with yarn in front of it; repeat from * to end.
After the first 4 rows of pattern the elongated MC stitches will have created long V's on the Right side of knitting.
The following two rows are worked in MC again and so on.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Kung Fu Knits by Elizabeth Green-Musselman, a review

Kung Fu Knits by Elizabeth GM

About three years ago Elizabeth Green-Musselman spoke to me about a series of booklet ideas she had, tentatively titled What Kids Want, trying to bridge the everyday wearables with fantasy play. 

As a designer [and a knitter] of kids' knitwear myself I can tell you that kids can be a picky audience. I think that Elizabeth's concept of combining a comic with knitting patterns for fun is innovative and brilliant at once. I love that the way she approached the patterns is by looking at how the what-they-want can be made, translated into a knit.

A little about the book:
Kung Fu Knits is a collaboration between Elizabeth and a totally awesome [as phrased by my own growing cartoonist wannabe] illustrator, Ben Bender. The comic that introduces the patterns is clever and entertaining, the patterns are well written and are complete with clear schematics to help you choose the right size for your kid. There are six patterns in the book, from GI uniform that's sized up to fit kids from 4 to 12 years old, to your Kung Fu [soft] weapons of choice and a pretty neat bag for all the things. 

ISBN 978-1937513610
Available from Cooperative Press and all good book stores.

Watch the book's introduction trailer: