Category Archives: KniCroBloWeek2014

The 5th Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 – Day 7: Looking Back, Looking Forward

I wasn’t too sure what to write for this final day: it’s about looking back on your last year in knitting,and what you want to achieve in the next but I already did a retrospective at the start of this year!

So I suppose I’m going to have to look to the future…what plans do I have? I have a number of ideas, but I suppose the most persistent ones are:

1. Make this awesome jacket:

Tara Jacket by Ashley Rao

Tara Jacket by Ashley Rao

2. Haul this thing out of hibernation and finish off all the edges (why did I design this so have so much finishing??)

whwip02133. Somehow figure out how to translate old school tattoo flash into knitted lace (at the time of writing I have literally no idea how that would work)


I hope you enjoyed reading all my posts this week! The rest of them are collected here.

You can see what everyone else is posting on the final day here.


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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 – Day 6: Views of Others

This is a topic about different perspectives of knitters, so I’ve teamed up with Faye of Buttons and Beeswax and we have swapped interviews. Faye’s been designing knitting patterns for some time, but over a year ago she landed a dream job as technical editor of both The Knitter and Simply Knitting and knitting is now her life! It’s actually been really nice to watch a career develop like that.

My interview answers can be found over at her blog, here.

Autumn Gold

Autumn Gold

Faye, how did you get this awesome at knitting?

I got obsessed in my early 20s and used to stay in knitting swatches in different stitch patterns. It turns out being hooked on something for years pays off! I’m quite lucky to work in an office full of patterns I can scour over and absorb, I am always learning and that’s exciting. That, and I just really like knitting!



Is there an area of knitting you’d like to get better at?

I’d like to improve my technique. I taught myself continental for speed, and now my English style is a bit ropey in comparison. I’d also like to have a go at some hardcore lace, but then I’d probably end up snagging it on something and ruining it!

What’s the best thing you’ve knitted?

Hmm.. that’s a tricky one. I’m really happy with some of the socks I’ve made recently but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m really happy with the design. I like sock yarn, and how the stiches pop out of it when it’s knitted with a slightly tighter tension. Probably the hardest thing I did was a cardigan called Lichen by Lisa Richardson. It’s a lot of cables and it took a while. I’m due to make some more garments this year I think.

Portreath - Reversible socks

Portreath – Reversible socks

Name 3 knitters you are internet-stalking right now.

Brooklyn Tweed – I can’t resist the beardy men in cardigans! (It’s true, you should see her boyfriend)
Alana Dakos – Everything in Botanical Knits and Botanical Knits 2 is lush
Kate Davies – I just love her work and all her photos of Shetland!

Let’s try some word association! Go!

Socks! Bright

Mohair! Only as a blend!

Squishy! Mirasol Baby Llama

Cables! Oversized

Nordic Lace Hat

Nordic Lace Hat

Do you have any other skills that people might not know about?

I’m pretty good at making curry!





All of my posts for this week are collected here.

You can see what everyone else has posted today here.

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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 – Day 5: Something a Bit Different

Today, I have indeed done something a bit different – figured out how to make gifs. A glorious world of stupid cats and flying text awaits me, but first I thought I’d just nerd the hell out about my knitting technique. Comparing techniques is useful!

(Note: These gifs should be about as fast I as go in real life, so this is more of a demo than a tutorial – of course internet browsers may vary and if you’re reading in Firefox you will probably think I’m superhuman)

I am very righthanded, so I’ve always knit in the ‘English’ style, which is to say, I control the incoming yarn with my right hand. I have my own way of wrapping the yarn round my fingers to stop it slipping too much- usually it’s one clockwise wrap round the ring finger, and twice anti-clockwise around the index like so.


The project I’m working on here is verson 2.0 of this shawl, and it’s all in Jamieson & Smiths 2-ply pure wool. It’s very rough stuff, and with these kinds of yarns I don’t actually wrap the yarn around the index finger. This stops the tension getting too tight.

Now, for the actual knitting, I believe my technique is a variation on English knitting known as ‘flicking’. It’s somewhere between regular English knitting, and the lesser known lever knitting, which old-school production knitters can work up blistering speeds on.


What this means in practice is that I don’t drop the yarn between stitches, I mainly move the right needle, and shuffle the left-hand stitches along with my left index finger.

Last time I tried timing myself I found I can knit about 40 stitches per minute (which includes time spent smooshing the knitting up along the needles). It’s not lightning-fast but the knitwear sure gets cranked out at a respectable rate. The real secret to fast knitting is actually bloody-minded determination and also having more important things you should really be doing instead.

Below, I am dong some purling in much the same way. The only difference is I mostly push the stitches along with the thumb instead. Purling is a little harder using this method, but I don’t get much ‘rowing’ on flat stockinette knitting, so at least I know the tensions are similar.


It gets more complicated! This shawl I’m making involves some fair isle. To hold two colours, I separate the two strands of yarn around the little finger and ring finger before popping them both over the index. The ‘dominant’ colour is always the closest to the fingertips.

fairisleprepThen it’s just a matter of picking up the right colour as I go. It’s a very comfortable method for me but purling fair isle is basically impossible like this. I either avoid it, or go back to dropping each yarn in turn


As I’ve come this far in nerding out about technique, let’s talk about the ghostly spectres looming over all knitters: RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I pay attention to hand health because I am far too young to have wrists like rusty hinges. The biggest problem to watch out for is tiring out my left index finger. I’ve learnt the hard way that extending your index fingers repeatedly is a real no-no, so I keep it bent at all times. Keeping my fingers are close to the needles and needle tips also helps to make sure they’re relaxed and bent. Plus, less movement = more efficiency! The angle between needles is at least perpendicular, if not acute.

I like my ludicrously fine gauge knitting mostly for asthetics, but I do find using needles over 4mm to be far more tiring. More movement required per stitch I think. Somewhere between 3mm and 3.75mm is my comfort zone.

I hope you found those gifs enlightening! What’s your technique and it’s pros and cons?


All of my posts for this week are collected here.

You can see what everyone else has posted today here.


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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 – Day 4: Conversations Between Workers

I’m taking some liberties with today’s topic. Although it was meant to be a conversation between workers and their tools, I have much more to say about the interactions between my knitting (designing) work and the work I do in my day job.

You see, whilst I’m a knitter by night, by day I’m actually an incredibly glamorous Shielding Analyst in the nuclear industry. Yes, it’s about as complicated as it sounds but maybe not for the reasons you’d think! As much as I would like to wax lyrical about the basics of particle physics (really!), that’s not the part of my job that has the most impact on my knitting.

Instead it’s the practical aspects of building a 3D computer model of the shielding that needs analysing. The main thing you need to know about radiological analysis in civil nuclear is that tried-and-tested wins out over new and potentially bug-ridden software every time. I have no problem with this cautious attitude, but it does mean I’m using codes rooted in Fortran that were first released around the year I was born. The input is…clunky. I’m manually defining polygons in absolute co-ordinates whilst the mechanical engineers are using CAD packages that look like Minority Report in comparison. I’m not bitter I swear! It keeps my trigonometry razor-sharp, and we all know trigonometry has a very real use in designing knitting patterns. So, your maths teacher was right about all this stuff being useful on two counts.

The alternative title for this post could be “How Radioactive Waste Drums are like armpit shaping”. This is nerdy. This is how thinking about maths leads you in random directions if you’re not careful. I don’t know if this will provide anyone with insight but it’s definitely something.

Below is a screenshot of the software I use. You can see some sample code, and a nice plan view of waste drums in a concrete overpack, closepacked in a project specific 8-drum arrangement.


Did I mention I had to work out the co-ordinates of those drums manually? (fun aside: the software also has very little clash detection until you try to fully load the model and then it’s all like “OH HELL NO” so getting it right first time is a good idea). That’s a perfect example of a problem that can be solved with a bit of trig! It looks like this:


Now you can either recognise that this is a classic 30-60-90 triangle and that x=√3r, or do what I did and work out the much longer way that x = 2rSin60, proving that numeracy is not the same thing as common sense. But it started me thinking about the exact point the circles ‘kiss’ on the x-axis, which here is exactly half the distance between origins.

At the same time I was in the middle of designing a cardigan for the Knitter, and I wanted the armpit shaping to be dead simple – one straight bindoff row then a bunch of alternate row decreases until the correct armpit depth was achieved. But what width should the bindoff be compared to the decrease section? Perhaps it should be just before the point where the curve of the armpit becomes closer to vertical than horizontal? And as this is meant to be a close fit maybe we can simplify the armpit shape to a circle with a radius of required armpit depth? And that would make that point the exact point where a 45° line intersects the circles circumference? Which would be rSin45! Or…roughly 70% of the total armpit depth! Yes! Another successful day at t’mill!

Dramatic reconstruction of actual events

Dramatic reconstruction of actual events

Although the ideal proportions for this kind of armpit may be up for debate, I found this ratio to work very well for my purposes.

I understand this is a very quick run through more maths than most people have to worry about but nonetheless, I think it makes for a nice story of how you can get from here

accelerated-sites-traws-overpack-3to here

(C) The Knitter

(C) The Knitter

through the magic of Maths!


All of my posts for this week are collected here.

You can see what everyone else is posting today here.


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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 – Day 3: Photography

Photography day! When I was wandering about the house for Day 1, I couldn’t help but notice that my box of swatches was getting pretty full.


Maybe…I could make a picture with them??


Yes! A flower! A Sun obscured by a cloud! A giant bee!

I like to think that somewhere today, Neil Buchanan felt an inexplicable wave of disappointment for a split second.



All of my posts for this week are collected here.

You can see what everyone else is posting here.



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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 – Day 2: Knitting Dating Profile

Today’s topic involves an unusual way to describe your projects – by writing them a dating profile. I’m all for pushing the envelope of your writing abilities and that’s why I’ve decided to fill this profile with as many atrocious and over-laboured puns as I could think of. If I make at least one of you audibly groan today it’ll be worth it.


This is my sexy face

Name: Marie…no, that’s actually a nickname. I am one of those Acer Cardigans though!

About me: I’m quite calm and laidback in general. I’ve been told I’m hard to gauge sometimes, but I never try to cause unnecessary tension. I have a quick wit too, I’m always making off-the-cuff remarks.

Would like to meet: Oh, just someone fun for a change. Last guy in my life who I met at the jazz festival Bluefest, Lester, turned out to be a real pill.

Currently listening to:  Needled 24/7. Oh, I may look buttoned-up but I love to rock out and I’m not sheepish about it!

Favourite place for a date: Can’t beat walking around any of the major museums in London, especially the most recent exhibition in the V&A. But I shan’t give the details away, you’ll have to guern-sey for yourself.

Sports: I like to play Badminton with my friends and I like to think I’m very good at it, although last time, Pearl won and I got quite the ribbing afterwards.

Religion: Well I’m not particularly superstitious, but this one time I had my Tarot read, and after pulling out the same cardigan and again I’m wondering if there really is something in it?

Pets: None, but I looove cats! Growing up, one of my neighbours had lots of them, all named after Disney characters. My favourite was this really friendly, oddly-proportioned siamese. Good ol’ long-tailed Gaston.

Something interesting that happened to you recently: I was shopping in Edinburgh Woollen Mill last weekend when this mad fight kicked off. Old ladies were pushing and shoving like crazy to get their hands on the weekly offer; it was a real free-fair-isle.

All of my posts for this week are collected here. You can see what everyone else is posting today here.


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Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 – Day 1: A Day in the Life

Welcome to Day 1 of the biggest Knitting blog week on the interwebs! I hope you enjoy my posting as much as I will be enjoying everyone else’s this week. The topic for today is: a day in the life of your knitting.

What does my knitting get up to when I’m not looking? Good question. The answer is: it migrates all over the house without my knowledge. I think all knitters can empathise with this one. On the one hand, it’s good to know you’ve always got knitting ready to go whenever you feel the urge, but some days your house feels like this:


Luckily, the Common Domesticated Knitting species, whilst abundant, likes to hide in very predictable places. It prefers warm and cosy spots, near good seating. It thrives in well-lit areas and is particularly drawn to televisions, or similar devices. It should be noted that if you find your Knitting has migrated to less practical areas such as the kitchen countertop and the bathroom, you may have a Knitting infestation problem. I can’t help you with that.

Allow me to demonstrate some of the best Knitting-spotting areas.


In the hallway, ready to be let out for a walk!

Laceweight car knitting

In the car!


By the bed! (Knitting sometimes likes to roam in groups around this area)


Some of it is sulking in the hibernating project pile, whilst yet more Knitting is sitting neat and tidy in IKEA boxes like we all know it should really be, (but it seems so cruel…)


Occasionally you might spot Knitting in it’s infant form, as shopping that hasn’t been put away yet (it was Yarn Shop Day on May 3rd, couldn’t resist)


No wait! That tribble picture was just a joke!*


All of my posts for this week are collected here.

You can see what everyone else is posting today here.


*Toft Alpaca fur pom-pom y’all.


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Blog week time is approaching!

Yes, it’s that magical time of year, when all sorts of knitting and crochet bloggers post all at once and it gets kind of crazy. I didn’t take part last year, although I did do 2012 and it was quite a fun challenge. 2014 however, is on. I’m gonna do it!

There are 7 topics, one for each day and the topics for 2014 are here. There’s a distinct running theme of anthropomorphising your knitting this year. I’m not sure if I like the idea of my knitting talking back, what if it starts being rude??

What do you think of the topics? Are you taking part this year?


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