A bit of pop for you today, new(ish) London band The Vaccines, this is my current earworm thanks to Radio 6Music. I do like a pop star in eyeliner. I used to be a Radio 4 girl, but ended up shouting at Woman’s Hour and You and Yours way too much, so decamped to Radio 6Music which is a grown-up version of Radio 1 I like to think. But not too grown up.
Knitting content a bit thin on the ground as busy finishing off lots of projects (some for The Knitter, some for RTW clients as A/W ’2011 selling shows about to be upon us) but none of them bloggable at this moment. Soon. Very soon.
This is Ev, or Heather. She rules the house. She can bite bamboo knitting needles in half in one swift chomp.
We didn’t mean to have her, but she’d been dumped at our local vets in an appalling condition, the worst case of ear mites he’d ever seen and a hideously infected back leg caused, we think, by being left sitting on dirty, wee-sodden bedding which had caused a sore and then become infected. Her hock joint had been destroyed by the resulting abscess and a rabbit specialist had told our vet ‘either put her down or take her leg off – nothing else to do’.
So he took her leg off, and she came to us as a stray just to recuperate for a few days. Nearly 3 years ago now. Brian the vet is not daft.
Missing a leg doesn’t really bother her, sometimes she has to have her ear scratched for her and she can’t sit up to wash her nose and ears like other rabbits do but she is a happy, healthy, naughty housebun. Who has no idea she’s a rabbit and thinks she’s a dog, but that’s another story.
The Sissy Scarf, being worn by a rather lovely stone sheep in London Fields. Pattern adapted from an original published last year in The Knitter, where it was a laceweight, alpaca tabard. Yes, a tabard. I remember having a tabard when I was about 8 and loving it, but I’m not so sure it’s one of those 1970s fashion moments that should be dragged into the new(ish) century myself. It looked lovely in The Knitter, and I know exactly why they asked for a tabard, but it never floated my boat if you know what I mean, so getting to the date at which I can re-publish the design I thought it would work better as a big, swooshy, smooshy scarf.
So here it is. Again in Colourmart’s 5/95 Cashmere / Merino like the Winter Aran, so I won’t rave about the yarn again. I suspect that Quince & Co’s Lark would make a lovely substitution, but that is a guess right now. I have been sent some of their Chickadee yarn by a friend which is really lovely, and it is this currently informing my championing of Lark. Perhaps I’ll break out the credit card and order a few skeins of each of their yarns.
The Winter Aran sweater / jumper / pullover, whatever you prefer to call these things.
A slim fitting garment, with the traditional stitch proportions subtly altered for, I think, a more modern look – more city than trad fishing trawler. Personally I adore a nice bit of Trinity Stitch and never get bored knitting it. I really enjoy the k1, p1, k1 all into the same stitch and the p3tog that follows it. Perhaps I’m odd.
This one has a deep neck to be worn either up or turned down, again because I like that sort of thing and also because quite a few of the bright young things round here (or the Shoreditch Glitterati as they are sometimes known) have been wearing them like this, and there’s no-one on the planet at the moment quite like the SG for starting / spotting a trend. Should you be not quite so Glittery, you could just knit the neckband lower and end up with a normal crew neck (and save yourself loads of k1, p1 rib in the round). Equally suitable for unisex knitting, but if you’re like me you’d need to shorten the arms a bit, or it could be lengthened in the body to give a quite nice jumper dress, worn belted with some nice tights and high heels and it would be a bit of a look.
Knitted in Colourmart’s 5/95 cashmere / merino ‘bulky’ wool, which isn’t really bulky in the ‘yarn thickness’ sense, I think it’s more of a description of how it bulks / fluffs up when you wash it. I love this yarn. It’s lofty and yet somehow structured all at the same time, and if you leave it to be nearly dry and then throw it in the tumble dryer on hot for 5 minutes with something else for a tiny bit of abrasion the results are fantastic, and worth the possible tumble dryer / handknit angst. Not that I angst much over such things, so long as you set the kitchen timer to remind you to stop the dryer and take it out it’s unlikely to do much harm if it goes in nearly dry. More details and buy the pattern here.
When you’re producing knitwear for shops, even really expensive handknits, you don’t tend to buy yarn like you do if you’re producing a handknit for yourself. It comes in bulk, on cones, direct from spinners and whilst it’s always exciting when the box arrives and you get to see a big chunk of colour instead of a little wrapping on a shade card this comes after much soul-searching (‘is it the right blue?’) and calculating to see exactly how much you need to buy before you’re offsetting the shipping charges enough and then what if you don’t really like the colour when it arrives? (You’ve not seen procrastination at work until you’ve seen a designer with a shade card).
And so, when you start looking at commercially available handknit yarn the first thought is ‘it’s so expensive‘. Which it often is, compared to the wholesale price, but then there are good reasons for that (which I will talk about another day). So, the joy of discovering Colourmart a while back left me doing a little Snoopy dance of happiness. Top quality yarns, from spinners I know, and at really, really decent prices.
Cashmere from Todd and Duncan and Z Hinchcliffe and Sons, Merino from Zegna Baruffa, other lovelies from Botto Poala, what more could you ask for? OK, so you don’t have the full colour card choice as many are bin ends or discontinued colours, but there’s always something amazing and at a fabulous price. OK, because these yarns are ready for machine-knitting and have some degree of oil in them then you have to be brave and knit a tension swatch and wash it and then measure it and do some calculations, but then lots of knitters do that all the time now and it’s not that scary really. Definitely worth it. I like the 5/95% Cashmere / Merino so much I’ve used it for the two designs currently available on TBk, you can have a look at it on Colourmart’s website here:
I suppose I’d better introduce us. True Brit knits is a loose collective of knitwear designers based in London who have all worked and continue to work within the knitwear industry. Knitting is a bit of a thing with us. I’m Belinda, and it’ll be mostly me posting as I’m the one least horrified by technical computer stuff, but don’t rule out posts from other designers.
Right now there are two rather wintery designs available (despite being well into January Winter shows no sign of moving on), there will be brand new designs as well as designs previously featured in The Knitter magazine. The aim is to bring other designers into the TBk fold in the forthcoming months, some people that you may not have heard of but whose work you may well have seen in the shops and magazines, and perhaps some that are recognisable names in the handknit world but who don’t have their own presence on the web.