(P)inspirational- Cowls

I mentioned before how I am obsessed with cowls at the moment because of their ease in the colder weather.


This lovely patterned cowl is knitted in Malabrigo Worsted (my go to yarn for winter accessories), so numerous combinations are possible (there are currently over 70 solid shades available). The clever use of colours and simple changes makes this pattern look striking yet would be a great introduction to intarsia.


One of my guilty pleasure TV programmes is Once Upon A Time, I adore all of Mary Margaret’s clothes especially her knitwear (she has some amazing hats), when discussing knitting patterns with a friend last week she mentioned she was knitting this cowl inspired by one worn on the show. She also mentioned a ravelry group devoted to knitwear on the show.


This patterns seemed to keep popping up on my Instagram feed (so I’m guessing it’s going to be popular this autumn), the lace panel can be worked with or without beads and looks amazing in sock yarn or lace weight.

Mjölnir & Möbius

There’s no denying that the weather has gotten colder here in London – and whilst it’s not quite time to get the knitted socks and hats out of summer storage, the cooler snap has made me think more about my autumn wardrobe. My go-to accessory is always a scarf, however last winter I made a chunky cowl using Rowan’s Big Wool – it was best suited to the winter months, I love the convenience of a cowl – I could just thrown it over my head and tuck the cowl under the collar of my coat.

When I was hunting for patterns to use my KSH, I saw the simple Ombré Cowl. Using three balls of the yarn, knitting with two strands of yarn at once and changing between colours to create an ombré effect. Knit on the round it seemed to be ideal to ease me back into knitting.

I cast on last week, whilst watching Thor: The Dark World, which wasn’t such a great idea. Three rows in I realised I had twisted my knitting whilst joining the round – complete rookie mistake – creating a möbius stripe! I’m guessing Loki served to be a massive distraction.

Ombre KSH Cowl Starry Night and Storm
Ombre KSH Cowl Starry Night and Storm

After carefully ripping it back – getting fluff everywhere – I re-cast on this weekend whilst watching the football. I am planning on making a few adjustments to make the cowl smaller, so I cast on fewer stitches and plan to make each section shorter. Once successful cast on the pattern is a dream to knit. Row after row of stocking stitch on the round!

(P)inspirational- Kidsilk Haze

I have already expressed my love for Kidsilk Haze and how I wished to use the yarn more (which may have resulted in a purchase or two). Ideally, I would love to knit a larger garment in the yarn.

As Rowan are constantly changing their range and adding new yarns and varieties to Kidsilk range (currently it is Eclipse and Stripe), they also produce pattern books to go with the new yarn, the original books all seemed to have a vintage feel, whereas the current collections seem to be a lot more modern and wearable.

Although this pattern is designed for Kidsilk Haze Eclipse, I think it would be an amazing everyday sweater in Steel (664) and Wicked (599), although I which I would have the courage to knit it in brighter colours like Candy Girl (606) and Grace (580).

As I explained before my first experience knitting with Kidsilk Haze and beads was a bit of a disaster, but that doesn’t mean I’m not tempted to try again. I think this glamorous sweater would be perfect for nights out during the Christmas season or if you were celebrating a milestone birthday in a few months (as I am).

Whereas, Kidsilk Haze does look amazing in stockinette, lets not forget it is a lace-weight and looks stunning if used in a simple lace pattern, this vest, with its thicker ribbed waistband and elegant lace is also an amazing top for a special occasion.

Kidsilk Haze…

… or cracksilk haze as knitters affectionately call it.

When I rediscovered my love of knitting, I would love going to John Lewis yarn department and exploring all the yarn. Every trip I would be drawn towards the Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze, the colours, the texture and just how fine it was (then it was one of the few commercial lace-weights John Lewis stocked). This was all pre-stash, when I would just buy yarn for a set project – so I never indulged in purchasing any.

I remember seeing a photo in the Knitting forum on Livejournal (does anyone else remember LJ?), where someone had made a garter stitch shawl using kidsilk haze and larger needles to adding simple yarn-overs to make a triangle shawl – it looked stunning – however was not something I would wear. Later on the same forum someone shared a pattern for scarf with beaded edging, which I knew I would wear!

Kidsilk Haze - Dewberry
Kidsilk Haze – Dewberry

I picked dewberry shade as I loved the purple and already had some purple beads from some bracelets I had made that summer. Following the pattern notes, I used clear nail varnish to make a “needle”  and threaded the beads on to the yarn (this was all completely new to me) and couldn’t wait to cast on.

My first attempt was a disaster, I wasn’t use to knitting with beads let along “fuzzy” yarn and as a result ended up with a lot of errors in the first few rows – which I couldn’t frog – so it ended up in the bin. Determined I tried again and after a few nights work, I had the most amazing soft, purple scarf perfect for the upcoming autumn.

It was one of the first knitting pieces I regularly wore, It would have been in the autumn of 2004 (even before this knitting blog) I use to wear it over a grey pea-coat, and even took it on holiday (we went to Chicago and it snowed a lot), I always felt proud wearing it, because I made the scarf but also because the yarn was seemed to be so luxurious, I felt like a proper knitter.

Kidsilk Haze
Kidsilk Haze

The following year, my love of knitting increased and I started buying more yarn – mainly still for projects but slowly just because, one thing I always seemed to come home with was a ball of Kidsilk Haze or its varieties – that year they expanded the range to include “Spray” and “Night.” I embarked on a crazy notion to knit scarves for all my friends and family members and eventually made 10 scarves to give away as Christmas gifts.

I still have odd balls of the yarn in my stash (I never seemed to buy enough for a larger garment), but haven’t used this yarn in years (although I think that might be about to change).

(P)inspirational- Bullet Journal

I mentioned before how I have been keeping bullet journal, one week in and it’s going well. The filofax system, I’ve adopted seems to be working although I might try a notebook in the new year (any excuse to buy new stationary). I’ve also been looking online (well pinterest) for inspiration.

I love this legend from The Couponing Mommy, the idea of different colours for things like birthdays and appointments is something I want to start to include to make sure they stand out – I also love the idea of adding washi tape to brighten up my pages.

Decade Thirty, has a system of daily tasks, great for habit-forming – we all could do with a little help drinking our allotted water or flossing every day. Or keeping track of something like couch to 5k.

I adore this idea for keeping track of weight loss, Apron ‘n’ Pearls has drawn a box for each pound she wishes to lose along with some inspirational quotes – imagine how amazing it would be to look back at all the boxes coloured in.

Reboot Part 3

Socks
The first pair of socks I knitted in 2005

Did you miss the early posts on this subject, you can read them here.

Last post I mentioned a few general ideas to get you started on rebooting your blog, this time I thought I would add some geared more towards getting you to write about knitting, (and hopefully get me to write more too).

1. Remove old posts
There’s a lot of debate about deleting older content from blogs. Some say it’s important to keep old content for continuity other say get rid of weaker content. Before deleting all your old posts – decided do you really want to remove them, can they be re-written or updated or are they no longer relevant. Personally, I have deleted some old posts, back in 2005 my blog was full of questionnaires for Secret Pal Swaps, posts filled with photos of the gifts I received in these swaps or badly taken photos of finished projects. I believe no-one is interested in these posts – so I deleted them, especially as most of these finished objects no longer exist in my wardrobe.

2. Old Project
Which brings me to the next idea – got an old project you still own/use/wear regularly – then write about it. Re-take the photos, talk about the project  - why do you love it? Has it held up well over the years? If you had to re-make the project what would you do differently? Likewise you can write about knitting disasters.

3. Write a review on your favourite yarn or knitting book
Do you seem to always use the same yarn? Have you knitted every pattern from one particular knitting book? Or have a favourite designer. Write about it! Whilst reviews of new books are nice – isn’t it better to have a review from someone who had used the book for the last few years – who has made notes in the margins (or on post it notes I like I have).

4. Start a writing a series of posts
As content is king… One of the most obvious things to do is write a regular series to insure at least one post a week. My favourite example of a series is Knitting Bliss’s Modification Monday, where she showcases a modified version of a pattern – often with amazing results (Most my favourited project in Ravelry come from these posts). Another great example is Ysolda’s Technique Thursday. Whereas these post require a lot of preparation it’s easy for you to start a series something like WIP Wednesday or FO Friday.

First Socks - 9 years on.
First Socks – 9 years on.

5. Don’t make it all about knitting.
Just because you started your blog to talk about your knitting, it isn’t set in stone that it has to be a knitting blog. Talk about your daily life, take photos of your pets/kids/home, review a film or tv programme, Often my posts with the most comments are those where I haven’t talked about knitting.

Got an idea – add it in the comments below.

Reboot Part 2

Blogging
Everything I need for blogging – a laptop and coffee

Missed Part One, you can read it here.

I have several ideas to improve this blog as part of my reboot, as a few people mentioned on social media they would also like to start blogging again I figured I would share my plan over the next few posts.

1. Re-design
Give your blog a little facelift, mix it up a little, there are many articles on the web about what makes a good layout, I’m not going to re-hash them here. Alternatively, you can download one of the 100′s of themes available (many for free) for your blogging platform. For me, this theme is old (I designed it back in 2011), since I love my colour scheme, but the header, sidebar and menu look dated to me. If you don’t fancy a whole new layout – change one aspect like the header.

2. Re-organise you Sidebar
When I started blogging, the sidebar seemed to be the place to put all your information, a list of blogs you followed, “link to me” buttons, amazon wish lists, lists of what you were watching or listening too. At one stage I had to have two sidebars just to hold all that information. Now, there is a lot of debate whether we still need sidebars. All I will say is, think about how you read blogs, chances are it’s via a third-party platform like Feedly or Bloglovin’ when the posts are displayed you don’t see the sidebar. I’m not suggesting you drop you sidebar – they are useful to hold information or advertising (if you have paid adverts), just clean it up a little.

3. Add Sharing Buttons – especially a Pinterest “Pin it” button
As I mentioned, we have changed the way we read blogs and find blogs, social media is a major part of that – so get your blog out there. Add “sharing” buttons at the bottom of your posts (your blogging platform will have loads of plugins for this)- there are loads of sharing sites, it’s up to you which ones you add but I recommend, Facebook, Twitter and of course Pinterest. Just a quick note, I would also suggest you make your images pin-able, as I said earlier think about how you read blog posts – I’m sure you have found a tutorial or recipe via Pinterest, you might have even added those blogs to your daily reads, make sure your blog is found my other crafters.

4. Link to Related Posts
Any article you read about websites or blogging will tell you the most import act is to keep your viewers engaged. Once they are reading a post you want them to stay on your blog and read past posts. Thankfully, there’s are several “Related Links” plugins to help you with this (personally, I like Related Posts on WordPress as it’s customizable), the plugin automatically finds older, similar post you have written and add links to them at the bottom of your blog post.

5. Add Pages
Most blogging software has moved on to Content Management Systems, so you can add more information in the form of pages, this can be anything from an archive section, FAQ, or a gallery. The section I would suggest adding is an “about me” page, I’m not suggesting you write your entire auto-biography, just a few lines and a photo. Imagine you are meeting a new reader how would you introduce yourself, let them know when you started knitting, who taught you? Why you knit? Blog about your family or pets – don’t forget to introduce them too.

You can read Part Three of this series here.

Bullet Journaling

To Do List
To Do List in outside my local coffee shop.

Long time readers of this blog will know I love lists, over the years I’ve tried to computerize my list – any time I hear about a new app or organisation tool I sign-up and make another list. To the stage where I have lists everywhere, a calendar on my laptop, general lists on my phone, long-term lists on Evernote, places I want to visit on Foursquare, books I want to read on Goodreads – it goes on and on.

This year, I decided to start using my old personal organiser again for dates, appointments and everyday tasks and it’s been going well. Taking this one step further I am going to try Bullet Journalling, reverting back to analogy lists!

My attempts to be organised
pineapple eraser // dotty pen
bazinga pencil // kate spade agenda inserts

I’m not going to attempt to explain Bullet Journals as Ryder Carroll has created an amazing website and video to get you started (you can see it here). I have made a few changes, rather than buy a new notebook, I am using the tools I have to get me started so I am continuing to use my organiser. I’m still using the calender section to keep track of appointments, birthdays and work deadlines.

The to-do section is perfect for the “roots” of bullet journalling, I am adding monthly to-do lists, then organising my lists per job (re-designing the blog, things to be listed on Ebay, projects around the house) and finally I hope to add long-term lists (books to read, places to visit etc).

Reboot

The main problem with having a knitting blog, is if you stop knitting your blog becomes dormant! In recent years my knitting has become very stagnant, toys for new born babies, a beret in the winter (which seems to be Gretel in another colour) and occasionally a shawl.

Sallah Cowl
Sallah Cowl, I’ve been knitting for nearly a year.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy knitting, it’s more my life has got more complicated recently and I doesn’t seem to have a place. I use to knit in the evening whilst watching T.V. Now, I sit with my iPad, catching up on family and friends news via Facebook or Twitter, reading the news of the day or (dare I say it) playing Candy Crush Saga. When we do watch T.V. it tends to be binge watching entire series on Netflix, often staying awake until the early hours – not a time when someone wants to be knitting.

When I started this blog back in 2005 my knitting lifestyle was very different, I would participate in knitalongs, take part in Secret Pal Swaps and it was a useful place for me to keep notes about my knitting projects (this was before Ravelry).Then I joined Sock Clubs and started going to knit nights – all of this gave me something to write about.

Now, it is easier for my to jot down a few notes on my Ravelry project page than write a whole long blog post – it’s also more useful to the knitting community to have the notes there rather on my blog with its few readers. As a photo is worth 1000 words it’s easier to upload a photo to Instagram with a few hashtags, than pull out the camera, edit my photos upload them to the blog and write several hundred words about them.

I know this sounds like a “Social Media has killed my Blog” post, but that’s not necessarily the case. Truthfully, it is more a case of social media has made it easier for me to share my knitting and crafts in other ways. I guess what I am honestly saying is I’m too lazy to blog!

I love this blog, it’s my little place on the web. My husband brought me this domain over 10 years ago to practice my newly developed HTML/php skills. Soon after, I added wordpress to the hosting and my blog was born. Over the years I have played around with layouts, themes, and plugins. I don’t want to give up this blog, I’m looking for ways to incorporated it more into my life and to encourage me to blog more.

You can read Part Two here.

Progress 1B2B

Clue 2 of the Follow Your Arrow was released this week. I again opted for Clue B as I wanted something a little different from a semi-circle shawl

Follow Your Arrow

I have to admit I miss “read” the pattern and thought the short rows would be on both sides – adding wedges to both sides instead of just one, so I was a little disappointed when I finished and it was lop-sided – I am hoping the next clue will even this out – or else I might rip it back and re-think my choices.

Follow Your Arrow

This is the other side, it’s worked in both colours – which isn’t really clear on the finished product – but I love the way the colours work together, as it looks like a variegated yarn and not thin stripes.