I am currently unable to knit. A couple of weeks ago I injured my right wrist and thumb while winding yarn, and whatever I did to the tendons has taken quite a while to heal. As I’m in the middle of producing a new collection this is more than a little annoying from a work perspective (I can’t even swatch! The horror!) but its proved even more frustrating from a personal one. My hands feel at a total loss. For more than a decade, pretty much every time I’ve sat down on my arse I’ve simultaneously picked up my knitting. As I relax of an evening, I am used to watching films and knitting, listening to audio books and knitting, talking and knitting, reading and knitting, eating and knitting, texting and pottering about on Instagram and knitting. I don’t supposed I realised it, but, for a very long time, my evenings have been defined by the activity of knitting, and without it, all the other accompanying activities just do not feel quite right. My evenings have not been empty: they have filled with interesting films, olympic cycling, pleasant walks, good company, and an extra dog to look after, and yet – I have still found myself feeling odd, and vaguely ill at ease, before gloomily taking myself off to bed even earlier than usual, disgruntled by nothing more than a general lack of knitting. Thankfully the thumb seems to be finally sorting itself out now, and I imagine there’s only a further week of this non-knitting purgatory to endure.
In the meantime I have been consoling myself with the happy sight of other people’s knitting. Here are the first five of ten wonderful projects, by ten amazing knitters, who have made exceptional projects using my designs or my yarn.
Marcia only began hand-knitting a few years ago, when she began the BA (hons) in Contemporary Textiles at Shetland College. “The support of staff, other students, knitting friends and loads of online resources has definitely helped and encouraged me to keep trying new things and techniques and given me the confidence to play around with patterns I like,” she says. Having already knit herself a Cockatoo Brae cardigan from my Yokes collection, she decided to adapt the pattern for a jumper “I loved the yoke pattern so much, but this time I wanted a loose jumper with 3/4 length sleeves so I set about doing some calculations of sizing based on the original pattern, but also taking into account that there would be no steek stitches and I wanted the star pattern to be in the middle of the yoke. I also added more decreases at the neckline and decided to add garter stitch for the hems/cuffs using 2 of the yoke colours for the sleeve edges.” Marcia carefully matched gauge between hand and machine knitting, before knitting the body and sleeves by machine and the yoke by hand.
“I normally use a linking machine,” says Marcia, “but this time decided to challenge myself and learnt mattress stitch to seam the sides and sleeves together, I was surprised how easy this was and it gave a really smooth finish.” Beautiful work, Marcia!
Next up is another lovely yoke – Wee Bluebells – which was knitted by Stacy for her niece, Scarlett, using Quince & Co Finch for the body with Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight for the yoke.
Scarlett’s mum, Megan, knew which shades Scarlett preferred, and was able to select exactly the right yellow for the cardigan body from Quince’s palette, which suits Scarlett’s colouring beautifully!
Stacy knit the cardigan one size up, to allow room for growing, and Scarlett looks absolutely fantastic in the end result! Congratulations, Stacy!
Anna fell for the Foxglove pattern from Yokes just after she learned to knit. “I didn’t have any experience with colorwork or steeking, or even fingering-weight yarn! But still I needed my own Foxglove cardigan. After a couple years of knitting and a handful of sweaters–including an Epistrophy–I was ready. I chose to use Harrisville Shetland because it’s spun and dyed in the Northeast United States, regional to where I live in NY.
“I typically buy less yarn than patterns call for,” says Anna “since I’m just under 5 feet tall, but this got me into a bit of trouble here. As I began the buttonbands, I realized I wouldn’t have enough of my main color to complete the project, and I resisted the thought of buying a whole extra skein just for a few rows.So I decided to start with the right buttonhole band, which would lay on top when buttoned, and after picking apart my project swatches I had just enough yarn to complete it.”
“For the left band I chose to use the purple yarn from the foxglove petals, so it would accentuate the flowers when unbuttoned, and be relatively invisible when fully buttoned. I’m so happy with the result, and I now have a Foxglove cardigan to wear proudly!” Personally I think that Anna’s contrasting button band is a real stroke of genius, and provides the perfect finishing touch to to her beautiful cardigan!
Next up, a Buachaille cardigan! Jane’s Braid Hills is a really fantastic example of adapting a pattern to the requirements of one’s own dimensions to create the perfect fit. “I have a small frame but am larger around the bust, which can a challenge when settling on a size. I decided to use size 5 for the bust measurement, but then had to adapt the sleeves for my small arms, so I knitted the sleeves to size 2 by decreasing more rapidly reached the appropriate stitch count. I didn’t add any extra rows in the middle of the body because, although I have a long torso, I wanted the cardigan to be quite short against my summer dress.”
Jane whipped up her dress herself too, and chose Buachaille in the Hedder shade to co-ordinate with it. Lining the button band with a strip of fabric from the dress is a really beautiful detail!
I find Jane’s whole handmade outfit somehow very happy-making. She just looks so lovely and summery in her dress and cardigan – worn with such style and such panache!
Finally, a truly fabulous Buachaille cardigan designed and knitted by talented Nikki Jones. I love seeing anything knit in Buachaille, but this project really made me gasp out loud when I first saw it.
“This project was planned stitch by stitch,” says Nikki. “After I generated a CustomFit pattern, using Amy Herzog’s amazing software, I charted each stitch of the colourwork on a graph in photoshop. This allowed me to move the bugs around, to make sure they were perfectly placed, and didn’t sit too low down. No-one wants boob-bugs.”
“I worked the colourwork on the sleeves a couple of times before I was happy. Transitioning smoothly from one background colour to another (rather than working with simply a foregound and background) was surprisingly difficult. I loathe small circumference knitting in the round – so I made frankensleeves – knitting the sleeves flat in the single colour sections, then joining them together for the colourwork sections (so working on a single longer circular needle). There were small steeks to work on these; and as the steeking takes care of the ends, there was no need for sewing these in.”
“Buachaille was a dream to knit. The dark colour changes subtly and beautifully in the light – sometimes grey, sometimes brown. The yarn retained a gentle sheepy smell, and it’s just a little grabby – perfect for colourwork. It’s wearing really well, and I’m looking forward to using it for more colourwork or cables soon!” Thankyou, Anna for your gorgeous work!
Pop back tomorrow when I’ll bring you five more beautiful projects – haps and accessories this time!