Monday, 5 September 2011

Esmée in UK Terminology

I've converted the Esmée pattern into UK terminology (dc instead of sc, and tr instead of dc). It should be available to download alongside the US terminology pattern when you buy it on Ravelry. There weren't any drastic changes to the pattern aside from changing letters, but hopefully it will be easier for people who are fluent in UK terminology to understand! Please let me know if any parts are unclear, or if I accidentally left in a rogue 'sc' or changed some letters that shouldn't have been changed (eg dchematic rather than schematic!).


I'm not really working on any projects at the moment. I am awaiting some Quince and Co yarn from Loop, which I intend to make into some swatches to try and submit to various publications. However, most of my time is taken up with making notes for my Master's dissertation, which I am starting at the beginning of October.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Esmée Relaunched

I've been a busy bee the last couple of weeks, rewriting Esmée and then formatting the pattern, drawing charts and a schematic, and getting photos. But it is finally done and released!


The blurb from Ravelry:

The Esmée Cardigan is a shaped lace crochet cardigan.
The first version of this cardigan was published in Inside Crochet magazine in the January 2011 issue, which is available as a paper copy, a digital copy on, or as a pdf from KAL media. This version is in UK terminology.
As there were considerable errata problems with the original published pattern, it has been completely rewritten in US terminology, with charts, a detailed schematic and measurements, and fit alterations. This version also includes instructions for a 54in size (as well as 30-50in as in the original pattern). This pattern is available to buy as a pdf download from Ravelry, and comprises 11 pages.
A sample was made in Jamieson and Smith 2 Ply Jumper weight in blue. Although aesthetically it is very similar to the original pattern, there have been several changes in the construction of the cardigan, to try and ensure a better fit - in particular, sleeve shaping and placement of neckline shaping.
Some other details that were too long/didn't really fit the Ravelry blurb:

If you're wavering between buying the Inside Crochet version or this new Ravelry download version, then I'd urge you to buy this new pattern. Not just because I get the money from it, but because I've put a lot of work into making this a really good pattern, with lots of features that weren't/couldn't be featured in the Inside Crochet version for various reasons (space, style, I hadn't thought of them at the time). There are also various errata in the Inside Crochet pattern which, though I think I've now written out corrections for all of them on the Ravelry pattern page, do change the flow of the pattern. These errata are also all numerical - in that they represent places where the numbers of the pattern were off. If you think of a pattern as a giant formula for making a cardigan, these were places where the formula was broken - where the numbers given would not work with the cardigan as made. With the corrections, you have the right formula and then create the cardigan

But what I've endeavoured to do with the rewritten pattern is fix areas where the cardigan didn't fit properly. This isn't a numerical errata problem- the numbers were all right, but there are places where the back was a bit wide or the cardigan fell off the shoulders. These are things that I only discovered once people started making the cardigan, and I made my own version. When I was setting out to publish the pattern, I thought that it would be a waste just to republish a pattern that evidently didn't work on all sizes - problems that are minuscule on the Size 34in sample size are much larger on the bigger sizes - such as falling off shoulders etc.

So I went back to the very beginning. I made gauge swatches, I made lots of schematics based upon the Craft Yarn Council's Women's Size Charts and I wrote out all of the body instructions as based upon the numbers that I'd come up with for the schematics. Then I held my breath and crocheted a 42in sample - one that would fit me. And it fitted, all the problems that I'd had before - the back being too big, the shoulders falling off, seem to be solved. I then worked on a new sleeve cap and sleeve shaping design, and added those on. These seem to work too.

I then drew lots and lots of charts to try and explain the potentially confusing parts. As a visual crocheter, I rely a lot on charts and was somewhat disappointed that Inside Crochet didn't include the charts that I'd sent with the pattern (although they were a bit rubbish). All the charts in the Ravelry pattern are hand drawn - I decided to do this rather than doing them on the computer as it was easier both to do and to correct mistakes. As I go along, I always draw charts for the tricky bits (neckline shaping!) and so I'm very fluent in hand drawing charts. I found some good felt tips to draw them out and I think what I've drawn is very clear - in an ideal world, of course I'd like perfect, computer drawn charts. But I couldn't find a way to computer draw them without them looking very pixelly, and being difficult to resize.

Anyway, this version of the pattern should be a big improvement. The sample is truly a joy to wear - it's possibly the first crocheted cardigan that I've made for myself where I don't sit and mentally edit what I would change with it while I am wearing it.

My Dad took the photos for me in the Isle of Wight. As you can see from the photos, it was very, very windy! In most of the photos, my hair looks awful, though my Mum was on hand with a brush every time it got too out of hand! It was a really beautiful location - near St Catherine's Oratory. There are lots more photos of the cardigan in a set I've made on Flickr.

I think that's all I want to say about the cardigan now! I'm planning a workbook/textbook/primer (?!) on crochet lace cardigans-  how to fit crochet lace into schematics, working out how to decrease crochet lace, that sort of thing. I've also got quite a few stitch patterns that I want to work with to explain all this. But it's very intimidating (the idea of trying to teach and explain something rather than just write a pattern), and I'm not sure if I have time to do it. However, it is the sort of information that I would like to be out there and available, and well, someone's got to do it!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Isle of Wight

I've been to the Isle of Wight over the weekend. My parents are on holiday there for the fortnight, I joined them for the middle weekend and together we attempted to visit most of the English Heritage properties on the island (we're members). I also got my Dad, with his fancy camera, to take some pictures of the revamped Esmée. I'm going to start drawing the charts tomorrow, but I won't be able to publish it properly at least until next weekend as I have to wait for my parents to come home to get the photos - it took my Dad nearly two hours to send me just three photos.

There are more photos of the Isle of Wight on my flickr.

Osborne House
Flowers at Osborne House

Flowers at Osborne House

Osborne House

Flowers at Osborne House

Carisbrooke Castle

Flowers at Carisbrooke Castle

Flowers at Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle

Esmée Cardigan


Sunday, 31 July 2011

Where July went

This is a short post with a few photos. My July has been full of graduation, holiday with friends, family gathering, helping cook on a summer camp for teenagers in Norfolk, and working on the Esmée pattern. Aside from Esmée, most of my crafting time (which was few and far between) has been limited to knitting a laceweight shawl - an easy, small, travelling project which is far from finished.

The Esmée pattern is going well - I've written up everything except the arm instructions, and am halfway through making a 42in sample. The most exciting part of this sample is that I've just measured it, and the bust measurement comes to 43in - exactly what I was aiming for, so hopefully these new instructions are right. They seem to be working so far, which is very encouraging.

Here's a few photos from Norfolk to appease skim readers, both were taken at Weybourne beach:


Tuesday, 21 June 2011


I've finished my exams and am proceeding through the curious Cambridge experience known as May Week. May Week is a deceptive title, as it actually lasts about ten days and is in June. It's basically the week between everyone's exams finishing and having to go home, and is full of lavish May Balls, garden parties, lying in the sun (or rain, as it has been this week) and spending time with friends. We went to see Trinity May Ball's fireworks last night - which were sublime with fireworks, coloured fountains and balls of flame set to music, but also quite obscene in the amount of money they must have spent on it. Tonight we're planning to go and see St John's College's May Ball's (their 500 year anniversary May Ball, no less) fireworks. These fireworks are as close as we can get to the May Balls (tickets are expensive and nigh on impossible to get hold of) so we're hoping that they're going to be good.

Aside from firework watching, on the few spare moments, I've been trying to update and alter my Esmée pattern. Crocheting from the pattern for myself meant that I've identified many areas where I think it needs altering, and thus have decided to start from scratch. I've drawn schematics for each size, and am working from them to try and get the right sizing. But in some ways, this is a bit of a headache - I'm changing the neckline decreases, and this seems to require different instructions for each size and ack! I'm still plagued by doubt that I will get it wrong again, but, I know that lots of people responded positively to the look of the pattern, so I'd love to get the pattern itself right for when I can self-publish it.


While I was revising however, I had put Esmée to the back of my mind, and my crocheting was focussed on the follow-on project for when I finish the Esmée pattern. I don't want to say too much about it now, but it has involved crocheting a lot of swatches.


I'm quite excited about it - but I know that the hard work of getting the written Esmée pattern right has to be done before it. As blogging about 'ack! neckline decreases' is a little boring, I thought that I would just post up some pictures of swatches to amuse the eye. And as the weather finally appears fine, and I and my friends now have lots of free time, I intend to get photographs of Esmée 2 and my Ashfield Cardigan in a lovely location.


And to keep working on those neckline decreases.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Flowers and finishing

On Tuesday, my friend gave me some yellow roses for having completed half my exams. I, similarly, had given her flowers a week before for her own halfway point. The flowers I gave (nearly two weeks ago now), are Sweet Williams. They were 2 for 1, so I took half (the bunches were huge) and have survived and thus are now mixed with the roses in two makeshift vases in my room. I'm not sure if I would have bought yellow roses and pink and red Sweet Williams together, but they do look lovely.



In less than a week, I will have finished my exams and thus all the work for my degree. The prospect is both terrifying and exciting.

In the spirit of finishing things, today I finished my 'Zany' tunic.


It's based upon a design by Robyn Chachula that was in Inside Crochet number 2. I started it in August 2009,  intending to make it as a tunic. I did most of the legwork then, but got distracted and bored and never finished it. My longest UFO - but as the yarn is Rowan Pure Wool DK - soft and luscious against the skin, I knew that it would be a waste never to make anything of it. Unfortunately, all the cut ends required to make the motifs meant that I couldn't unravel it. In April, as I was sorting out my project box to come back to uni, I pulled out the half finished tunic and looked at it, pulled it, and realised that if I unwound some of the motifs and rearranged them, then I could make a rectangular throw. I'm not really an afghan/blanket making person - but as this project was basically already done, I guessed that it wouldn't take me too long to rearrange the sleeve motifs into a rectangle. Except that I got distracted by Esmée 2 and the Ashfield Cardigan, and didn't actually get round to doing this until today.


It only took about two hours - one for reattaching the motifs, and another for sewing in all the ends that you can see in the first picture. It is now blocking on my bedroom floor - on the space between my bed and the chest of drawers. But I thought that I would post about it now, while I have the inclination and enthusiasm. Anyway, it's a project that I started after the summer of my first year of university, and have finished in the third and final year. Hooray for finishing!


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Pretty (posh) Yarn

At the moment, I'm in the midst of revision for my final university exams. It's scary how quickly it's been from a trembling fresher to a trembling finalist. So much of my time is spent rereading notes, writing essay plans and avoiding actually doing work by knitting, browsing online. However, updating the blog feels like a public confession that I am not actually working at that time, so it has been neglected (much better to procrastinate in secret?). I've also been working on projects that don't lend themselves well to blog updates - I could do plenty of pictures of my half-finished cardigan, lamenting that the second batch of wool I ordered was from a different dye-lot, but I like completeness and so have been holding out until it was finished.

On Sunday, however, I managed to be online at the hallowed time of 8pm - also known as the Posh Yarn update time. Like Wollmeise, Posh Yarn posts limited stock that disappears quickly. First, I attempted to purchase a couple of skeins of Sylvia 4-ply in the Land of my Fathers - a green colourway, with the intention of using it to make Esmée #3 (my ideal would be to make an Esmée out of Posh Yarn's Esmé base, but there wasn't any in the update this week). However, trying to buy three skeins proved too much and they were gone by the time that I had filled in my details. So I went back, took a deep breath and chose this:


It's Posh Yarn Sylvia 2-ply in colourway 'The Street Named Regret'. It's very pretty. It's also lace. And has silk in it. I've never used either before. It feels lovely, but I fear that I may die of boredom winding 875yds.


I think I want to make a shawl with it (once I have finished the cardigan). I usually choose projects based on the circular needles I have, so does anyone have any suggestions for this yarn using 2.5mm, 3.25mm or 5mm needles (or any crochet hook, sizes 3mm-6mm)?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Endellion Shawl

This is a project on a Tuesday. Not a tool.


It was a struggle to photograph the entirety of the shawl, but hopefully you can build up a patchwork picture from the photos that I post. I took lots of photographs of the edging, because I think that it is quite beautiful, less of the garter stitch centre.

The Endellion shawl is a hybrid project - a garter stitch centre, based on the centre to the Multnomah Shawl by Kate Flagg, and then a crocheted flowery edging based upon the edging to the Midsummer Night's Shawl by Lisa Naskrent. It used one skein of Posh Yarn's Pamela in a colourway which I think was called 'Writing My Memoirs', but I'm not quite sure. Suffice to say it is dark blue, with 5% Stellina sparkle incorporated into the yarn. Initially, I was somewhat wary of a 'sparkly' yarn (they seem ubiquitous in UK indie dyers at the moment), but the sparkle isn't very obvious - it just gives it something a little magical when it catches the light, rather than looking like it has an obvious plastic strand in the yarn.


The intention with doing a hybrid knit-crochet project was to get the most out of both crafts - I wanted it to be densely stitched in the centre - hence the garter stitch, but lacy at the edge. I also wanted to take advantage of the low yardage and easier drape that you can achieve with dense stitches in knitting, so that there was more yarn left for the lacy crocheted flowers at the edge. I also wanted something slightly mindless at the beginning.

If you want to recreate the Endellion Shawl, then this is a rough guide: you'll need to knit the Multnomah centre until you have about 220 sts, then switch to looking at the Midsummer Night's pattern. I did three rows (because I hadn't got enough sts, but just do as many rows as you need to get the right number) of dc, adding increases at the centre like on the pattern (the chart is super helpful). Then I did Rows 5-7 of the edging twice, if you look atht the picture above, then you'll be able to see how I added extra increases at the centre.


This was a fun project- slightly mindless with all the garter stitch, but a great piece of problem solving to work out how to make the edging work. It also reminded me how awful I am at guessing how much yarn is left in a ball - I only did the edging once as I thought that I was about to run out, so I bound off. Then I realised that I had a sizable ball left so I decided to keep crocheting until I ran out - which was almost exactly after I'd done a whole repeat of Rows 5-7. Perfect!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tools on Tuesdays (2- Needles)

The second tools on Tuesdays post is looking at needles. I've been weaving in the ends of my Esmée Cardigan #2 and sewing on buttons, and I have really appreciated having a decent needles to do this. Unlike scissors, where you can stretch and snap the yarn with your fingers, it's much more difficult to weave in ends without a needle.

These are my needles:

You can tell by the arrangement of my needle case that I am not very organised. There are meant to be four pieces of felt or pages that you can turn over, but my needles go all the way through and stick them all together. They have been accumulated over the years from various sources - given to me by my Grannie one Christmas (along with the scissors showcased last week), borrowed from my Mum's sewing kit, and inherited from my other Grannie. Until Christmas, they were stored in a slightly tatty 'Singer' sewing case, which I inherited/claimed from my Grannie (I think my Mum might have wanted it, but I spotted that there were some good tapestry needles in it, and it was light and compact, so used it, and then ended up being tidied away with my stitching stash and taken to university). However, for Christmas, my Mum gave me this lovely little sewing case in my stocking.

As you can tell from the stains that have already accumulated on the front of the case, I take this needle case with me everywhere I take my knitting/crocheting projects. You never know when you might want to sew in a stray piece of yarn, or if, unconnected to your project, someone's button breaks off or their bag rips and they're in need of a sewing needle.

I have now finished some projects, so this blog should get a few more updates over the next week or so. (One is photographed, the other is not).

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tools on Tuesdays (1- Scissors)

The title suggests that this will be a regular feature. I'm not sure if it will (I have two posts planned at the moment), but as a title then it has good alliteration and rhythm, so I'm keeping it that way.

Tools, the objects that we use to create crafts, are often overlooked. I have a tendency to imagine everyone crocheting with exactly the same crochet hooks that I have, cutting the yarn with the same scissors, using the same needles etc. Obviously that's not right, so this post is just to highlight what I personally use as my tools - feel free to post your own version in the comments or on your own blog. Also, I find that the tools I use have much more interesting stories behind them than the yarn that I buy or the patterns I use.

I'm starting with scissors, partly because I started reusing some lovely scissors that my Grannie gave me, partly because they're quite useful and universal.

These are the scissors that I am using at the moment:


As I wrote above, these were given to me by my Grannie (my Dad's mother). It was probably about 5 or 6 years ago, before I was into crochet. I enjoyed cross-stitching and sewing, and I had asked for a sewing box and some embroidery thread for Christmas. My Grannie included with the sewing box this pair of scissors. I rediscovered them last weekend when I was reorganizing my yarn to take it back to uni.

Usually, I use nail scissors to cut my yarn as I find normal sized scissors too large and unwieldy. This pair of scissors are the same size but a little sharper, and a little more precise.


I really like the design on the handles The curl where the ring joins the shaft  (I think I've just made up those words...) really reminds me of Anglo-Saxon/Scandinavian metalwork - I half expect the blades to be carved in the shape of a bird's head.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


My Mum and I went to York last weekend. It was lovely - really sunny, so much history. We were able to spend the whole weekend going to 'medieval' sites: York Minster, Jorvik, Micklegate Bar, Barley Hall, the Yorkshire Museum, Clifford's Tower, the York Castle Museum. I was really impressed by the high standard of the museums - nearly all were recently renovated or renewed, with passionate staff and informative, sensible displays.

I was also able to buy some Yorkshire wool in a grey colour, which will hopefully make a summer birthday gift for my brother. His favourite colour is 'sludge', but he will wear grey as well.

In the meantime, I'm remaking my Esmée cardigan for me, and am recording my progress on Ravelry.

Here are some pictures:

York Minster:

York Minster

York Minster

Ruins of St Mary's Abbey:
Ruins of St Mary's Abbey, York

River Ouse:
River Ouse, York

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Aphra Collection

The Aphra Collection available as a free pdf download from Ravelry (clicking will download pattern) contains instructions for a hat pattern (with further instructions for optional colourwork striping) and a cowl pattern, which use purl bumps to create interest. They're very simple - just knit and purl, and all they require are counting to get the right pattern.

Striped Hat

Plain Hat and Cowl

Normally, I publish my patterns on the blog, but this time, I thought that with my first knit patterns that I would stretch my wings and try putting up a pdf on Ravelry. If you want to make only the cowl then you can download that page of the pdf separately. (clicking will download pattern)


This is the pattern which came out of this inspiration post. Very different from damask and porcelain. The porcelain came from the colours - the white of the Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Simply Taupe and the dark blue of the madelinetosh eyre in Fathom, the damask from the person that I was designing for. But I couldn't get my damask charts to work properly - it would work on a larger canvas, but not a hat. I've been really inspired by the work of Cecily Glowik MacDonald - the real (or at least, perceived) simplicity of her patterns. So I wondered, what I can do with just knit and purl?


The Aphra collection was what I produced. I love counting and internal logic, so in this case, the distance between the row of purl bumps increases by one each time. In the case of the Striped Hat, there is a switch from white being the majority colour at the bottom, to blue at the top.

Aphra Hat: 

Aphra Cowl: 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Multnomah Shawl (and Flamies)

This post is mainly about my experience knitting the Multnomah shawl. But before I do that, I'm going to point you towards the Crochet  Liberation Front's annual Flamie Awards, where my Esmée Cardigan has been nominated for 'Best Design - Adult Garments'. Looking down the list of nominations in the voters' guide, its a great list of some of the best designs and contributions to the crochet world over the past year. And being the Crochet Liberation Front, it does make me a little sad that I'm tacking it onto a post about knitting. But I'm somewhat shy about 'vote for me!' self-promotion (which is why it has taken me until the end of the voting period to actually make this post), and I didn't want to put it on a stand-alone post. And crocheters, do not fear, I am crocheting as I type this post (well, during thinking time), so I should have some crocheted loveliness to post up soon. Also, I'm going to rework the Esmée Cardigan for self-publishing in the summer once I get the rights back, so my brain will be switching to more thoughts about crochet over the coming months (as well as lots and lots of thoughts about final exams).

Anyway, onto Multnomah.


It was quite a pleasing knit, all in all. I used almost a whole skein of Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin We're Different in Pfefferminz Prinz, and 3.25mm needles.

The needles provided the only problem for the knit. When I started, I only had my 3.25mm circular needles with a 30cm cord. These are some old needles that I inherited from my grandmother - so they're a little sticky, and the cord isn't particularly flexible. Also, despite measuring them in a needle gauge, I still wasn't sure if they were 3.25mm. The pattern told me that I would need a longer cord so I promptly ordered some nice Addi premiums online with a 100cm cord. They took longer than expected to arrive, by which time I had a nicely scrunched up shawl on the little circulars, having reached almost the edge of the garter stitch section. Thankfully, when the needles arrived then they were the same size as those I had already been using, and the shawl doesn't seem to show any evidence that two different needles were used.


It was quite mindless, especially the garter section. The feather and fan provided some interest, but it suited the end of term, when I didn't really want to be spending a lot of my time focussing upon my knitting.


As you can see in the above photo, the variegated yarn striped or changed colour nicely, without any large patches of pooling.

One of the next posts will hopefully contain one of the two knitting patterns I have ready to go - I've typed it all out, reknitted it, and am now just waiting for a sunny day when I can photograph my samples.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Inspiration (9/3/11)

This is a photo-heavy post, showing my current inspirations. I'm attempting to design a stranded colourwork knit hat.


Blue-and-white Porcelain

Neither damask nor blue-and-white porcelain are anything that I've really been interested in before, so I'm having lots of fun researching them, and trying to work out how to convert their designs into charts.

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