Memories from the past

I think most people by now have read Kate Davies’ post ‘Have you knit this pattern?‘ If you haven’t, you should, it is well worth a read, as all Kate’s posts are.

Although I haven’t knitted that particular pattern, I did inherit some interesting ones from my Mother and had a little look to see if the pattern in question was among them. It wasn’t and to be honest, like myself, my Mother was more of a sweater knitter so most of the old patterns I have are for garments. It was interesting to read through the comments that Kate received though, and what was clear from reading them was the strength of memories that knitting stirs up in people. These knitted shawls were special in peoples’ hearts, very special. They represent a touchable piece of the past, something like a mix between a treasured photograph and a special keepsake but, because they were made by someone with love, they also represent that love.

We, as knitters, can often recall exactly when we knitted an item. The item itself brings back a memory of a time and place, perhaps a particular emotion. I have the first pair of socks I ever knitted and I remember that time and what was happening in my life whenever I see them. I also have the cardigan I was knitting when my Mother passed away. It was to be for her birthday that year and after she died I finished knitting it anyway. I think she would have like that.

I also have a pattern that holds, in a strange way, not my memories but my Mothers’. She often remembered a twin set that she knitted for my Grandmother whilst carrying my eldest brother, her first child.  She had already knitted all sorts of baby items and not knowing the sex of the baby, was waiting to ‘see’ before knitting any more. Having seen a pretty pattern in a magazine, she decided to knit it for her Mother. Knitted in three ply wool at a gauge of 7 sts to the inch, it must have taken her a while.  It was special to her and she still remembered it over 50 years later. She also kept the pattern even though she never knitted it again.



As you can see, the cost to knit was 25s 6d.  From a quick search around I think that this equates to about £30 today.

You can even see where she has circled parts of the pattern.


A practice she continued until she discovered post it notes many years later.

I found some other interesting old patterns whilst going through her collection.

This yoke sweater pattern is an example of how seamless yoke patterns where changed for a market where flat, seamed knitting was predominant.


The construction is interesting. The pieces for the back, front and sleeves are knitted flat, then seamed and the sleeves set in. Only after it is all constructed is the yoke knitted by picking up stitches from centre back, around the front and back to the centre back. The stitches are then knitted back and forth on straight needles. This is achieved by using two pairs of straight needles and leaving an opening at the centre back which is later edged with crochet and buttons added for a closure.

Seems an awful lot of work to me for something that could be easily and better knitted in the round. And was in fact meant to be knitted in the round.


I had to show you this pattern from, I presume, the 1960’s.


This I am sure, if my Mother ever knitted it, would have been for her sister, although I could be wrong.

It is knitted in half linen stitch, probably to give it body and stability but the construction here is again very interesting. The front of the dress is knitted as one up to the point where the vertical stripe begins and then the stitches are split and each colour section is knitted separately and then the strips are seamed together. The yoke and sleeves are knitted as one piece for each of the front and back and seamed to the body pieces and then the whole lot is seamed up the sides and across the shoulders.

This old Weldons pattern for a cardigan is knitted all in one piece including the sleeves, from the back ribbing, up and over the shoulders and down each front. The ribbing at the cuff is added by picking up stitches at the bottom of the sleeve and knitting down. It is then seamed up the sides and under the arms. The front bands, which the pattern calls strapping, is added afterwards. Another interesting thing is that although the pattern is written for three sizes, each size is written as a separate pattern, not as we would do now with the different numbers and stitch counts for each size in parenthasese. The pattern is well worn with a couple of rips in the back page and what looks like a tea stain on the inside.  It seems it was a favourite.



Lastly, I just had to put in this pattern.


I remember knitting this one myself. It was before I left home which is how it was among the collection. Again, the sweater front, back and sleeves are knitted and seamed, then the yoke is picked up on two pairs of needles and knitted back and forth with an opening at the centre back which is later finished with crochet and a couple of buttons. It is probably how I knitted it back then but I don’t remember using two sets of needles. We had some needles that were a cross between a circular and a straight. Imagine a circular needle cut half way along the cable and then an end glued onto the cable. Sort of a flexible single point needle. I will see if I have one still and show you next time.

Well, that was a walk down memory lane! Thank you Kate!

What patterns do you have that bring back special memories?

Have a good weekend.




Smooth and connected without breaks in the tones.


We all need something to whip up quickly when we need a gift for someone (especially this time of year), but as a hand knitter I always hesitate when considering my knitting for a gift if I don’t really know how it will be received. It isn’t just whether the item will be liked, I find most people like knitted items, but how it will be looked after.  Mention hand-wash to most people and it is enough to make them turn to stone. Mention throwing a beloved hand knitted item into the washing machine to a hand knitter and they will do the same! If knitting for children I usually make an exception and knit with something fairly bomb proof, although to be honest, it’s never completely enjoyable as it could be. I just don’t bond with the yarn in the same way and there’s no getting away from the fact that something knitted in natural fibres just looks and wears so much better.

A good yarn makes your knitting look better.  In my experience the majority of natural fibres are very forgiving of slight changes in tension between your knit rows and purl rows and other odd idiosyncrasies of pattern. Once blocked, they even out and bloom.  Often something lovely turns into something beautiful in the wash. You can’t say that about any pure acrylic yarn (in my opinion). The only exception to this is very fine Merino yarn, but perhaps that’s a discussion for another day. And yes, I know that there is a misconception that all wool yarns are scratchy and difficult to look after, especially here in the U.K for some reason, but that’s just a lack of experience I think. An unwillingness to try anything that isn’t cloud soft. Sometimes you need something with a bit of grip to it to get the best from your knitting. Try knitting fairisle with something silky and you will see what I mean.

So, when I was recently introduced to Elann’s  Pippilongcolors yarn, I was delighted to find that not only is it super wash treated wool but soft – very soft in fact.

The ball band states it is a mix of 24 and 26 micron wool.  This information means far more to you if you are a hand spinner, but I love the fact that they put this information on the ball band along with the nm 1.8 (the size, aran weight) and the fact that it is z-spun (the direction of twist).  Finally a yarn company that actually gives you some real information about the yarn you are knitting with and not just assumes that you couldn’t possibly be interested.

Just to bore you with the finer detail if you don’t handspin. A micron is one millionth of a meter. In this case 24 microns represents a wool fibre of the type from Merino or a very fine Corridale or Shetland sheep. A good Bluefaced Leicester sheep will have a fleece of around the 26 micron count. All these are classed as next to the skin soft. Just as an interesting piece of information, anything below 3 or 4 microns and you couldn’t see it as our eyesight just is not that good.  Emperors new clothes springs to mind!

Anyway, where was I? Yes. Gift knitting. So, over the last week I’ve managed to knit up a couple of quick gifts for some girlfriends of mine. None of them are knitters and really can’t understand at all my love of wool, so this yarn is perfect for us all.

Legato Pair 1

Leg warmers / boot toppers and a matching pair of fingerless mittens. They knit up pretty quickly and the rib pattern is interesting enough to stop me from getting bored but makes pretty good T.V. knitting too.

Legato Mittens 1

Taking really good photos is difficult with our gloomy weather at the moment.

I love this colour-way.  It is called ‘pleased as punch’ but there are several equally lovely colours in the range all with interesting names such as ‘Blaze a trail’ and ‘chasing rainbows’.  I have bought some more in a lovely colour-way called ‘Storm in a tea cup’ for my more reserved friends!

Legato Leggins 1

This pair of leg-warmers is for my friend who wears leggings and skinny jeans a lot. I have actually colour matched them by reeling off some yarn from the ball until I got to the same place in the sequence that I started with for the first one – but stupidly here one is upside down – if you see what I mean! Of course you don’t need to colour match them at all because they look good anyway.

You can get a pair of leg-warmers and a pair of small or medium fingerless mittens from just two balls of the yarn. The larger mittens paired with the shorter boot toppers also take the same amount.

I tried out the pattern as boot toppers in a plain yarn while waiting for some more to arrive.

legato cream 1.12

These are only 15 cm or 6″ long and will be great for stopping a draught down my boots but I admit that I prefer the Elann yarn.

I have written up the pattern and more information about yarn, yardage etc. is on the pattern page. It is now available to buy from here or through Ravelry and Etsy if you would like to have a go.

If you are in the U.K. the good new is that Elann now sell through Amazon so you can get the yarn (along with their other yarns)  here.

The weather here is about to turn much colder so perhaps a little brighter too? Good knitting weather whatever it will be.

Autumn – Delicious Autumn

My very soul is wedded to it and if I were a bird I would fly around the earth seeking successive autumns.

George Elliot.

Autumn Blueberry

Is autumn not a beautiful season?  My favourite time of the year – until spring!

Recently though we have slipped from the bright, crisp, colourful days of autumn where the light has such a beautiful hue, to those dark, damp, dreary days that are so common on this island.

It has been so dreary here the last few days that it is near impossible to take a decent photo.  Our cottage can be quite dark at this time of year when the light outside is so bad, much too dark for decent photographs anyway and outside it is raining so even with the best intentions it’s just not going well.

Time then for warm soups, and knitting!

sweet potato soup

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Serves 4 – 6

Gluten and Dairy Free

1 Brown Onion – diced
2 Sweet Potatoes approx. 400g – diced
1 Large White Potato – diced
1 Litre Vegetable Stock, your favourite, I use Kallo.
1  400 ml Tinned Coconut Milk –  not carton. Keep back a few tablespoons for garnish.
Salt and Pepper
Coconut oil for frying

Melt a walnut sized piece of coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Fry gently until soft but not coloured then add the sweet and white potatoes and leave to sweat for a couple of minutes.
Add the stock and tinned coconut milk and bring slowly to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft then take off the heat and allow to cool down before pureeing with a stick blender or blender.
Return to the heat and season, adding salt and pepper to taste.
When serving, swirl a little of the coconut milk on top.


On the knitting front, I have just finished Portage by Melissa Schaschwary.

Portage 2A little different from my usual knitting so far as the yarn is concerned.  On a recent holiday in Wales I somehow came across the Colinette factory, funny that!

Portage 3

The yarn knitted up beautifully and has a good hand, not too soft but not at all itchy either.


As I said, I am afraid that it’s near impossible to get a decent shot at the moment and these photos don’t do the cardigan justice at all.

The pattern is a top down seamless knit, raglan style.  The shawl type collar is added afterward by picking up stitches around the front and working back and forth in garter stitch. The pockets are integral to the collar and are sewn back to the sides at the end. You can’t see it here as my pictures are so bad but my pockets hang down quite a bit at the front of the garment.  Not a pattern error, I just think that I should have picked up less stitches around the fronts as my yarn has given a little with the weight. I may put it right if it annoys me that much but at the moment nobody seems to notice except me.

I do have another F.O. but that really needs some decent photography before showing you and being sent off to the recipient. No sign of doing that over the next couple of days though.

May your days be colourful and bright!

Menet v2

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

As you know I have been knitting two Menet cardigans for gifts whilst re-working the pattern to give an option for long sleeves. Well I finally finished them a couple of days ago, gave them a wash and then waited for the weather to brighten a little so I could take some photos. This morning, in between showers, there was a few minutes of vague brightness so I took advantage while I could. I would still have preferred it to have been a little brighter but what’s the chance of that here, I could be waiting weeks!

Menet with sleeves
Menet with sleeves

One Great Niece likes her colours bright and girlie. The other is too young to choose, so I chose for her. Menet with sleeves 1I love this turquoise. As I never go for particularly bright colours for myself, this gives me chance to knit in some different colours for a change.

Ready to be wrapped
Ready to be wrapped

Done, dusted and ready to be wrapped up.  Must be one of the earliest Christmas presents I’ve ever had ready! Along with adding the instructions for the long sleeves, I have also re-worded the pattern a little and jigged things about a bit which has improved the clarity of the instructions. I will be updating the file on Ravelry this afternoon, so if you have already purchased the pattern you will receive an update.  All new purchases will be sent the new updated file.

You would think that after moaning about knitting all those sleeves, I would give it a rest for a bit. Wouldn’t you? Well, my next project is a cardigan from Jared Flood called Ranger.  I’ll show you pictures when I have a little progress.  Guess what the pattern has you knit first? You guessed it, sleeves.  Obviously, I know that you don’t have to start with them just because they are listed first, and I did think about starting with the body.  But, then I considered the idea of getting them over to begin with – and ploughed straight in. So, more sleeves then!

I have also been trying out a (new to me) gluten free flour mix from Glebe Farm here in the UK.  It’s a very basic mix of just rice flour, potato starch and xanthan gum.  I bought some to try because although I love the mixes I use, I make all our baked goods gluten and dairy free now, for everyone in the house, not just the intolerant ones. It’s easier, and honestly, nobody really notices any difference. It’s also healthier but I won’t go into that now. So, I really need a cheaper, easier alternative for everyday baking saving the finer more expensive mixes for special bakes.  Doves Farm make a really good mix which I used to use but it has a lot of corn in there, so a no go for me now. I started with a cherry cake.

English Cherry Cake
English Cherry Cake

English Cherry cake. Recipe converted from one of Mary Berry’s. I used a little more flour than the wheat flour equivalent in the recipe but it looked promising when it came out of the oven.

Light and Fluffy
Light and Fluffy

Looked even better when I cut into it, although the cherries had sunk quite a bit.  The cake was light and fluffy, a little too light really which was probably why the cherries sunk.  It didn’t stay around for long, which was lucky as by the next day it was just a little dry but still good with a cup of tea. There was just a hint of a crunch with the rice flour as this mix isn’t super fine but it wasn’t unpleasant and it certainly didn’t deter anyone. I even gave a piece to someone who has never eaten gluten free before and  I think they thought I was having them on about it being free from.

Next up I used it for my new pastry recipe I’m working on. I wasn’t going to show you this today, but I couldn’t resist.

No matter how many different recipes I’ve tried,(and believe me I’ve tried more different recipes for pastry than one person should have to make in a lifetime)  I just couldn’t get a good – ‘almost behaves and tastes like gluten’ –  gluten and dairy free pastry. So in the end I decided to do some experimenting of my own.  I am still perfecting it so you don’t get the full version today I’m afraid but I am so pleased with it I’m going to give you a teaser.

Gluten and Dairy Free flaky pastry
Gluten and Dairy Free flaky pastry

I plan to make some sausage rolls with this over the week-end and get the final recipe written down properly.  I’ve made this twice now and both times it has behaved perfectly. It rolls out without breaking, and it bends, so no patching up cracks and NO hard edges. The batch in the photo above was so flaky that it left lots of crumbs on the plate that look like puff pastry crumbs.

Recipe soon.


Book review – Knitting Architecture

Rest and be thankful – William Wordsworth

Over the last week or so I’ve been struggling with a cold which has now morphed into a slight fever flu type thing. I was told to take it easy for a few days, which I did, sort of. Never could do exactly as I was told. I think the turning point was vacuuming whilst dancing to Status Quo. The virus was obviously not a fan and decided to put a stop to the fun. It was probably the guitar rift at the end that did it!

So, I’ve been listening to this

Inferno - by Dan Brown
Inferno – by Dan Brown

whilst spending time on sleeve island. Somehow I managed to knit two cardigans for gifts and left all the sleeves till last – I wonder why. No, really I do because now I have four to knit, one after the other. I love knitting, but really, four sleeves in a row, what was I thinking.

Luckily I recently bought a copy of Knitting Architecture – 20 patterns exploring form, function and detail – by Tanis Gray which has nicely taken my mind off sleeves for a while along with Dan Brown’s Inferno (great book by the way) and so I thought I’d put in a little book review.

Knitting Architecture is actually a compilation of patterns from various well loved designers, Amy Christoffers, Grace Anna Farrow, Kirsten Kapur and Suvi Simola to name just a few and includes patterns where architecture has been the inspiration for the designs.

Knitting Architecture
Knitting Architecture

It is a good sized book – 159 pages, with three chapters: Chaper 1- Form follows function, Chapter 2 – The Details and Chapter 3 – The Materials.

All the designs are well thought out and none are ‘fillers’ that you sometimes feel they put into books to bump up the pattern numbers. Most are patterns for sweaters but there are also patterns for a bag, hat, mittens and a shawl if sweater knitting is not your thing or you want a quicker project.

There is a good section at the back for abbreviations and techniques which includes seven different types of cast on along with the usual short rows, increases etc. The Sources for yarn section obviously lists mainly suppliers and yarns from the U.S. but most of us are used to that by now and substitution is not always the problem it used to be. There is also a good section on all the designers that have contributed patterns for the book. I do feel that the title should have an ‘et al’ in it, but that’s just a minor point.

So, the patterns. I can’t show you them all but I would like to give you a look at three of my favourites. I’ve chosen three very different projects from the book so you can see the variety of patterns.

Beaux Arts Cardigan - by Cecily Glowik MacDonald
Beaux Arts Cardigan – by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

First up is the Beaux Arts Cardigan by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. This is just what we have come to expect from Cecily.  A stylish, timeless knit with interesting details that would keep you entertained whilst knitting it and be wearable for years. I really like this cardigan. For me though, I would probably knit it in a smaller gauge than the 15 sts to 4 inch it is written for, but that’s just my preference for finer yarns.

Another pattern I really like is the Wrought Iron Tote by Angela Hahn.

Wrought Iron Bag - by Angela Hahn
Wrought Iron Tote – by Angela Hahn

The mitred detail on the base of the bag is both surprising and pleasing. A small detail like this can really lift something out of the ordinary for me and the patterning is simple but extremely effective.  There are instructions for lining the bag too.

My final choice is the Hotel Tassel Wrap by Åsa Tricosa.

Hotel Tassel Wrap - by Åsa Tricosa
Hotel Tassel Wrap – by Åsa Tricosa

This surprised me. On my first look through the book I overlooked this piece. I love wraps and shawls but very rarely knit them as I don’t wear them, so paid it little attention. But, on closer inspection, this is such a clever piece it may even find its’ way onto my queue. It has a very clever use of a mesh pattern which is intersected by panels of garter stitch that flow up the piece.  Between these is an unusual cable that I don’t think I’ve seen before. Looking at it I am certain you would not execute this without a cable needle and at the point of each intersection the cable requires two cable needles to work all the stitches. A little complicated perhaps but well worth it.

Conclusion: Well. There are always going to be patterns in a book which you don’t like or are never going to knit.  I tend to feel that if there are at least three patterns I love, well, then I’ve had my monies worth.  Out of the 20 patterns, there are perhaps two which I don’t really like (not telling which ones though) and maybe another three or four which I like, but would never knit. That leaves 14 or 15 viable patterns for me which is well within my criteria for money well spent.  The patterns a varied and well thought out and there is something for every taste. As I said before, I think it would be nice for there to be a nod to that fact that the pieces are from various designers somewhere on the cover of the book but that’s just a minor quibble.

All in all, I’m glad that I have this on my shelf.

Another purchase I made recently was a set of these,

Knitted Basket
Knitted Basket

How could I not.  It actually took some time to track these down as my local store had them displayed near the bathroom section. Eh? If you are in the UK you can find them here.


Hathor Pattern

Finally I have finished the Hathor pattern and it is now listed here and on Ravelry for sale.  I know it has taken some time for me to put it together but I hope all the wait was worth it.

Hathor Cardigan

I have added an option for long sleeves which makes Hathor a more versatile pattern.  I like some options in my knitting don’t you!

The colour options are endless and I am sure, as I have seen from the test knitters, that there are many more interesting combinations than mine.

Hathor / Menet Colours
Hathor / Menet Colours

Don’t let the fact that the yoke pattern looks complicated put you off.  It is very simple to knit once you have the hang of it over the first few rows and looks like you have taken hours over intricate colour-work.  In fact, only one colour is used on any row and the ‘clever’ patterning is achieved by slipping stitches and working in garter stitch which makes the colours travel and mix in a fascinating way.

Hathor Yoke
Hathor Yoke

The only thing you need to remember when working this stitch pattern is that all stitches are slipped purl-wise and the yarn is always held at the back of the work when slipping them.  Sometimes this just means slipping a stitch then knitting one but sometimes you will need to bring the yarn to the front to slip a stitch and then take it back again to knit the next stitch; this only happens one row in four though, so even that isn’t too much work.  Once you have the hang of that though, the rest is child’s play.


The body of Hathor has a gentle waist shaping which gives it a more fitted feel and a feminine shape.  As Hathor is knitted from the top down, I have given instructions for adjusting this shaping by trying on your cardigan and positioning the waist to suit.  It is also easy to adjust the length of the body and sleeves to your own measurements.


Available for £ 3.75 by instant download.

I am always contactable through the email address at the top left of the page for any pattern support or questions you may have.