Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Natural Dyeing from the garden

Somehow with lockdown, there were other things to do and worry about and surprisingly I did not feel like doing any natural dyeing. As I got the garden more ordered I suddenly felt like I could do some natural dyeing. I decided to try some garden plants I had not explored at all, or only used in solar dyeing. 

I found twelve 10g skeins, six in each of two different 4 ply wools, but had no idea if they were mordanted. I usually label everything I can so decided they needed to be treated as ‘just skeins’. 

I decided I would put them into four groups of three and sample the dye material on it’s own and use over dyeing or modifiers for two further skeins. In this way I would get an idea how I might treat they dye material in the future or if I would use it at all. As you can see below I aimed to match the skeins to some stimulus material. 

So this is how they were treated and what has resulted. 

All were scoured and mordanted with alum first. 

‘The barn door ‘ - Dyed with Peony heads  

Peony on its own  : plus madder : plus  copper 

Ornamental Poppy

‘ Rust at Ravenglass Beach’ -dyed with seed heads, leaves and stems 

From the dyebath : plus madder and cochineal : plus iron 


‘Sunset at a windmill in North Norfolk’ - dyed with whole plant except the roots 

From the dyebath: iron 1 : iron 2 


‘ A Shetland sunset’ - dyed with plant and buds but not roots

From the dyebath : madder 1 : madder 2 

The whole set of twelve ‘go together’ as they tend to do with natural dyeing.

Myself I prefer the Shetland Sunset batch.... now I wonder why that might be?My next favourite is the North Norfolk sunset with the toning greens. I am thinking I might try more of a range like this next time. It is ‘knowledge and experience’  judging the time to stop when a skein is in a dye bath and of course, just to add a further complication, when the skein is dry it is a lighter colour. 

Monday, 1 June 2020

Fine spinning and communicating the details

Last summer I started a natural dyeing project, which I am going to write up when it is finished. My current  Fine Spinning project is an unexpected offshoot of this. During the dyeing, for one aspect I needed to dye some silk and wool in the same dye bath and found a blend of the two fibres advertised. The dyeing is being completed under strictly controlled conditions and each different dye bath takes several hours to complete. The silk and merino I had dyed looked marled and when I viewed it under the microscope I was stunned, the ‘silk’ had not taken up the dye at all. In fact the threads looked too smooth to me to be silk. I contacted the supplier who was reluctant to accept my explanation, until the microscopic results were seen. Costs of the fibre were reimbursed but of course not my time. 

So, after this I repeated the dye bath I had been investigating with some hastily spun silk and some separate merino.  As expected both dyed but given the silk was not spun very evenly (1) the colour varied depending on the diameter of the yarn spun. Hence I decided to take upon myself spinning my own fine yarn, both wool and silk as I could be sure of the provenance of both. 

I love fine spinning, in fact that is why I learnt to spin, and I have been a member of the cobweb and gossamer spinning fb group since it started. It was from this group that I came across the  man who runs ‘Fleece Loved Products’ (2) who was developing a custom bobbin for a spinning wheel particularly for cobweb and gossamer spinning. It was great when I realised that he and his wife (a very fine spinner herself ) were to be at Shetland Wool Week. We had some correspondence before we left and decided to meet up at Ollaberry during the week where I could try one of these custom bobbins on my Joy wheel. 

What a real treat that was, sitting amongst the glitterati of the Shetland Fine Spinning ladies and trying out first of all the special bobbin and its support system on my Ashford Joy wheel and then an Ashford e spinner, with custom modifications too. I made some purchases to aid my fine spinning. 

Custom Ollaberry Lace Weight Bobbin, the sheep addition is mine. 

Ollaberry Lace Weight Gauge for Lace and Cobweb Yarns, both sides


So since Shetland Wool  Week I have spun small skeins of fine yarn ready to continue my natural dyeing project. 

So far I have spun: 


Lincoln Longwool 

Norfolk Horn (3)

I was going to stop there, but sorting out my spinning store I found some cashmere and Cormo so think these will now be added....

During this time I have followed postings in the above mentioned fb page and keep in touch with ‘Fleece Loved Products’ and would dearly love it if we (spinners of fine yarns) could report our spinning results in a standardised format that we all understand. Seeing a fine yarn draped across a coin of another country is not useful to me or I guess most people across the world either. 

Fleece Loved Products have more than risen to this challenge (2) and are developing aids that would really help fine spinners to measure their yarn accurately and also report it in a standard way. 

Hence the yarns I have completed follow and I hope provide the information that other fine spinners would want to know. I also have used a microscope and micrometer scale (on a glass slide) to measure the diameter of my yarns and can confirm that the wpi gauge, which is so useful when I spin a fine yarn as I use it, is accurate for diameter when compared with my micrometer measuring. 

You will see I am using a record card called a spinner’s  Yarn Palette. I find it very useful to have all the information attached to the yarn. To me the most useful measure of the gauge of a yarn are m/g and hence the NM number (5). If anyone is interested in trying a sample of this record card in return for some useful feedback I can make a limited number of sets available, just let me know. 

All 3 yarns and their details 

Lincoln Longwool macro

Norfolk Horn macro

Silk macro 

I am not interested  in entering the Bothwell  Spinin ‘The Longest  Thread Competition’   but others might be and I give a link below (5)

I have just got joyfully sidetracked trying to obtain some fine silk and wool yarns that I can use in my natural dyeing project! However, spinning these  different yarns and comparing them has given more questions for me to investigate later!


  1. The thicker yarn gave a lighter colour. 
  2. Fleece Loved Products can be contacted at and their spinning products are stocked and normally available from Jellybeans Yarns on Etsy or via the Beaker Button website
  3. Norfolk Horn yarn is local to me and an historically interesting rare breed fleece. Another post, at least, is needed to discuss the historical importance of the East Anglian Textile industry. This resulted in Norwich being the second city of the land and to the wealth of the region. The breed virtually became extinct and rose from the ashes so to speak by a breeding programme that led to the set up of the  Rare Breed Survival Trust. There are theories and myths about when the breed arrived in this country and much work has been done by specialists in archeological textiles detailing what is actually known.  One excellent more general book about East Anglian Sheep Breeds is Black Faces by Peter Wade-Martins. 
  4. The NM number might look something like this NM 1/49 meaning there are 49 metres per g in the singles, if it is 2/49 it means the yarn has been plyed. Jamieson’s and Smith use this method with their cobweb yarn. I feel it is a good system, one instantly knows the fineness of the singles and hence if it is singles in the photo or plyed. There is an additional Card in with the spinner’s  Yarn Palette which explains and takes you through this calculation. 
  5. The Bothwell  Spinin ‘The Longest Thread Competition

Monday, 18 May 2020

Machine Knitted Lace - a week’s journey

This does get technical but I hope of interest to  hand lace knitters and lovers of lace knitting as well as machine lace knitters. 

I am a lace knitting lover, be it the most intricate and fine hand knitted Shetland Lace to machine knitted lace. This post is about my recent quest to better understand machine knitted lace. There is ‘being  able to knit the lace’ by choosing the patterned punchcard  or the alternative is  where you understand enough to make the punchcard for the lace you want. For machine knitted lace these two are poles apart. 

There are several sorts of machine knitted lace:

Thread Lace which I knit on my Knitmaster machine, in this sample I used sewing thread and fine crepe.

Tuck Lace which I use for the fine crepe cowls I knit often. 

Transfer Lace  which can be simple or complex by using a provided punchcard or then being able to design your own. 

(Hand manipulated lace) This is transfer lace where I move the stitches by hand and in effect do the decreases and leave the needles empty to knit the holes

Transfer lace is designed so that the stitches are selected by a hole in a punchcard which rotates as you knit. 

It is this that I have spent  many hours on recently. 

I mainly knit with my original (1974?) punchcard knitting machine. It is a Brother 830 and has a 24 stitch punchcard which means I can design a pattern with a repeat of a factor of 24. The machine comes with a separate lace carriage. This is used with lace punch cards as it selects the needles and moves stitches onto other stitches ( ie does decreases) and leaves empty needles to make holes. The direction the lace carriage moves determines the direction the stitches are decreased, so in effect whether it is a left or right slanting decrease. Then two rows are knitted normally to form that row of decreases and holes. I look at the reverse of the knitting on the machine so all these are backwards compared to hand knitting just to add to the complexity. 

Knitting with left slanting stitches equivalent to K2tog in hand knitting and hole to the right of the decrease

and with the decrease slant going to the right ( as well as the left) as the lace carriage moves in the opposite direction, equivalent to s1k1 psso or other variations. 

The punchcard looks something like this and is nothing like the final pattern will look like and as an added complexity the machine knits a row where the holes are 8 rows under where it is read on the drum. 

Part of Punchcard  for the machine and pattern it knits 

Fortunately I have a large Machine Knitting library and searching back through the excellent books that were written in the early days of machine knitting has helped tremendously with really understanding how this all works. 

First of all I set about trying to interpret a punchcard and working out, by sitting at my machine, what would happen to the stitches as I did this manually. 8 movements of the lace carriage before actually knitting a row are not abnormal for working more complex transfer lace with a knitting machine. 

The next stage was to punch my own card, once I had sat at the machine and worked out what was happening and so knit some lace. One hole in the wrong place can be a disaster! After a few trials this is the result. Of course getting the tension and yarn thickness to balance (as in hand knitting) is key and it has to be a yarn that works with the gauge of the knitting machine too. 

I was very pleased when I got to this stage, even though it was simple transfer lace and only 2 passes of the lace carriage before 2 knit rows to knit the decreases and holes. In all 4 sequences of this combination for a complete pattern repeat. 

What had got me interested in this was a post on an internet forum (1) of a sample of porcupine quill lace. I researched this and found the idea of the original knitting of this was in Barbara  Walker’s  book - A second treasury of Knitting Patterns where she called it  Japanese Feather. 

The original designer of the Porcupine Quill Lace version of this was Kathleen Kinder who just gave 2 small diagrams of black and white squares ( black being holes) side by side which she said were the pattern (for copyright reasons I will not post them here). 

I spent an afternoon, racking my brain and playing with the machine to understand what she meant! Eventually I worked it out and made a punchcard for my machine.

This was multiple transfer lace where each sequence needed a decent sized piece of graph paper to work it out. 

The punchcard was 82 rows long for one pattern repeat

However another afternoon later and I could not get the stitches to stay on the machine. I tried everything, changing the yarn several times, changing the tension, taking off the ribber as I have my machine sloping, changing the weights, nothing would work. 

So the next day I decided I would knit it on the machine but manually to see what the problem was. All became clear. The machine was being expected to move 2 alternate stitches over not one but two stitches. There was not enough yarn for that manoeuvre in each stitch! It was hard enough when I was doing this manually. I find it difficult  to believe any machine could do that. I don’t want to put mine under the strain. 

So I knitted the lace at the machine doing the manual transfers, something to do on your own when you are on one best form. I am really happy with the result but I think this sample is ‘it’ for Porcupine Quill Lace? It  is only an 8 stitch repeat pattern but fits into the category of complex transfer lace. 

This pattern as shown here in the sample  is 52 stitches wide as I included a couple at each end as a little border and 2 pattern repeats deep. 

I have enjoyed this week’s lace machine knitting journey. I have learnt so much and so glad that I truly understand how it works. It has also made me look at lace knitting in general in more detail and helped me get my head around interpreting better lace motif design. To me the pinnacle of knitting. 

I will hand  knit a Porcupine Quill sample, as interpreted for machine knitting  eventually but for the time being I am going back to knit my Hinneywaar Unst Lace scarf to rest my brain a bit. 

I am in awe of the knit designers that worked out the ingenious method of designing punch cards for knitting transfer lace on a knitting machine. For anyone who thinks machine knitting is ‘cheating’ I suggest you try and design and knit lace on a machine and I think you might think again. 

  1. The original post about Porcupine Quill Lace was in The Machine Knitting section of the forum of Knitting Paradise. 

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Summer Seas Top

My birthday this year occurred during  lockdown and I had a treat of a day concentrating fully on a textile project. I treated myself to a Workshop based on notes from a, sadly no longer with us, machine knitting genius called Audrey Palmer. When I lived in Cheshire I attended a couple of workshops based on her work run by Carol  at Metropolitan Knitting (1). These were in about 2006 and I then knitted several baby blankets based on what I had learnt and gave these to friends and family. These blankets had the advantage that they could go in the washing machine and still look good when they came out, unlike the fine Shetland Lace ones I also knit. 

Part of a Baby Blanket 

Audrey concentrated on the Knitweave  technique where thicker and fancy yarns are carried across the face of the knitting and caught down by a finer base yarn. She developed a range of clothing, tops, skirts, jackets and more art based projects for the home. I particularly liked her attention to detail and her edgings. 

I decided for my lockdown birthday I would revise her technique, draft out a pattern for a top, make a toile and then make the top. I haven’t worked on this every day but after an great initial birthday workshop with Audrey’s first  book (2) less than a month later the top is finished and photographed.

The pattern is less fitted than I normally use and it is knitted sideways on the knitting machine so the pattern is more flattering running vertically rather than horizontally. I did several samples and the one that was my favourite after several days of looking at the samples ‘pinned up’ was the final choice. It uses a very fine base yarn and a boucle yarn, I think rayon probably. I have had this for years and probably was tempted  to buy it from a Knitting and Stitching Show. This has turned out to be good use for it and  I have another in brown and cream so I might try a different clothing item with that. The yarn is very slippery and only the colours have stopped me giving them to the charity shop! 

Yarns Used 

Why ‘Summer Seas’ ?  The sample reminds me of the glorious colour of the sea both in Shetland - Meal and Norwick beaches spring to mind - and in Norfolk on glorious sunny days. I look forward to seeing the sea again, we don’t live far away but it will be all the more glorious when we can go safely (3)

The front  and back took about an hour and a half each to knit. I had to remember, or keep referring to, my sequence of 18 rows which involved 3 different techniques as well as keep an eye on my pattern shape to get the neck and shoulder shaping in the right places. Full concentration was needed. One shoulder was joined with the sewing machine and then the neck edges were knitted. Audrey, as I mentioned, was excellent on detail and I spent several days trialling edgings for the neck using the edge of the tension square. When  I found one I thought would work I then wanted to try it on a curve. I found a sample neckline ( useful to have a supply of these I find) and it worked on the curve so it was back to the machine to knit these on. 

Tension square                                                      


Neck edge


The little cap sleeves were knitted separately and then added. Nice touches here include a technique for adding a sharp edge to the bottom of the sleeve, and also for knitting in a facing. The procedure for adding the sleeve to the garment results in a near invisible seam and I have learnt to value knowing when to pick up a convex or concave loop of previous knitting. 

Sharp edge                                                                       




Both shoulders and the side seams were stitched on the sewing machine. 

Having tried lots of edgings for the bottom I went with a simple crochet edging, having spent time trying crab stitch and different hook sizes too. I just needed an edging that would look good when the top was worn out of a waistband but would not be bulky when ‘tucked in’. 

Edging of bottom 

I love the top, it fits well, it drapes, the neck works and even better it looks good under the teal cardigan I have just knitted.   

Image of top                                        


and teal cardigan on top 


Final weight of the top is 150g. 

It used so little of the fancy yarn I have enough for probably a long sleeved top like this or jacket or skirt in which case it would work as a dress. So more nice decisions to make. 

I learnt a lot from doing this and it feels like the tip of an iceberg to another area of machine knitting to enjoy.

  1. Metropolitan Knitting, Cheshire was such a great place to live near. Unfortunately it is no longer running courses and you will need to check to see if it is still selling yarn. 
  2. Audrey’s book that I refer too, is called Create With Knitweave. Unfortunately it is out of print and virtually impossible to find a copy now. 
  3. I believe ‘lockdown’ is a small sacrifice to make in this war to save lives. My relatives made far greater sacrifices. My grandfather was in the trenches and prisoner of war camps in the First World War; recent documentaries for the VE celebrations have highlighted the sacrifices made by my parent’s generation for six long years and both my son and daughter in law are front line medical staff currently. I do find it difficult when some people presently are trying the bend the rules, failing to understand the severity of the situation the world faces now and unable to do ‘their’ bit! 

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

The teal cardigan

I have had a cone of teal crepe yarn for years. It has been used for machine knitting samples, including the one for this  ‘knit weave’ on the knitting machine 

The cushion with some ribbon yarn from Colinette many years ago. 

I hoped there was enough left to knit another of my favourite cardigans, and there was! 

I used my normal pattern developed over the years but this time I decided to add hand manipulated lace to the edges of the sleeves. 

I am pleased with it but the lace took 45 minutes, the majority of the time for machine knitting each sleeve. It is worth it though, I like added details. 

All the pieces were blocked before constructing. 

The shoulders were joined on the knitting machine. 

All other  seams were done on the sewing machine as I have detailed elsewhere (1) 

I am very pleased with it. It picks up a colour in the tweed of my wool skirt. 

It also matches some of my dresses which I am more likely to start wearing if this hot sunny weather continues. 

The finished cardigan on the duplicate body model. This has been difficult to photograph but I think these photos give a good impression. 

Whilst searching for samples, I found this one that I love, the crepe and grey sewing thread knit in a technique called ‘punch lace’. Perhaps the 110 g I have left is enough for an elegant summer top, but then maybe I won’t chance my luck  but look for another similar colour crepe! That will also mean working on my vintage Knitmaster 700 knitting machine taker than the a brother I normally use. 

  1. See details of the construction of seams in the post about the ground elder cardigan

Monday, 6 April 2020

A classic jumper

I like to have some basic, smart, fine wool, knitted jumpers that I can layer more interesting knitwear over. For several years I have had a couple of cream ones, that I machine knitted in Yeoman polo fine merino wool. These have been washed many times and just keep on looking great. 

I decided I needed some grey ones, finding just the right shade of grey was problematic but eventually I found a grey colour that I really liked - it is lambs wool  in 2/ 17 colour Pearl Grey. It comes from Uppingham Yarns as a cone of approx a kilo, mine was 0.970 g. 

I drafted this pattern some time ago. It is very simple and has fitted sleeves. 

However, being plain and very simple there is nowhere to hide. Any slight error sticks out a mile. 

These are the samples I knit before I started. I was looking to get a good edge to the rib and a suitable tension. Hence the strip and then the square to get my measurements for stitches and rows per inch. 

Knitting went to plan. (I have described knitting using my knitting machine elsewhere on my blog)

Blocking the pieces ensures that they must fit me, with no nasty surprises like the sleeves are too long or the jumper is too short. 

Initially I used a single 1x1 rib for the base of the back, front and sleeves. The neck is done by the ‘cut and sew’ method that I use. 

Cut and sew neck

I join the shoulders on the knitting machine 

Shoulder join 

Other  seams  (but not ribs) I sew with my Janome sewing machine. The ribs I stitch together from the outside to get the best match I can with no visible  joins. 

The jumper weighs just 150 g and I finished this first one before Christmas. It has had good wear and is still looking ‘as new’. 

I decided that I couldn’t better this design or colour so I have just knitted another. Version 2 has 2x1 ribbing at the base of the body pieces and sleeve. 

Mattress stitch ribbing 

The completed jumper 

I love how the sleeves fit and I love this yarn. 

Jumper v2 complete 

Yet again the 30 year old plus  Brother 830 Knitting Machine delivers. 

So only 300 g of yarn used , 150 g per jumper and 670g left. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Clothes that fit

 Some time ago, approximately 10 years, I made a body duplicate being unhappy with the fit of the commercial version  I had bought. The duplicate that I made needed the help of a good friend and was made out of self adhesive paper tape. It has stood the test of time and now has some layers of wadding between the tape surface and the purple jersey covering. 

Image of body model arranged to show my curved back, threads are place markings and should be there! 

I use this often but as it is 10 years since I made this I thought I would work through a Vogue Fitting Pattern Bodice. The result of this should be a paper pattern that I can then compare to patterns I already have and those I might make. I have the Lutterloch system and am keen to make more use of it. (2) I also have a couple of dresses that I love but are just too tight to wear now and I would love to replace them  using a modified pattern. Just doing the bodice part of this Vogue system had 8  pages of instructions. All that was needed was someone to help you take your body measurements accurately, some gingham, the ability to work through each stage in turn plus quite a bit of time. This was not something that could be rushed. 

I did this during a particularly dull and often wet time during early February when gardening was off the agenda. 

Throughout all of this I had a ‘working notebook’ where I tried to write down everything I did in terms of alterations and the reason for doing it. 

After making some initial changes to the pattern, the idea is that you make the fitting pattern and then try it on. It is essential that you work through the numerous alterations in order once you have it tried it on and decided where the problems are. 

The first version

You can see I did lots of marking with different coloured threads. It is far too loose at the lower back - I do have a sway back as well, but this is actually showing the main problem to be that it is too tight across the top of the back and lacks the length needed at the neck. I only have photos of the back as I could see the front myself and thus didn’t take any photos.

I made minor alterations along the way but this was going to need a drastic measure. I consulted a whole pile of books too (3)and came up with a strategy. 

First attempt at adjusting the back. 

You will notice I have added the sleeves and that one is fitting better than the other, this was intentional as I used different should length seams on each side to see which worked better. 

I realised the sleeves would affect what happened on the back. I will say more about the sleeves later.  I pinned the darts outwards too. I know Each side of my body is not identical so trying the toile on inside out would not work! 

I regard myself as slim built (mainly) and who would have known I have a large upper arm biceps. (4) This needed another similar slash and insertion in the middle of the sleeve cap where the pattern was cut and spread. I also needed a higher sleeve head than is normally given on patterns to accommodate this. I also noticed that my upper arm is longer than ‘average’ and I had to move the elbow dart down from the shoulder 3.5 cm so the dart would be at my elbow. This necessitated shortening the lower arm by the same amount. 

Fitting the sleeve was problematic as I needed to balance this with there being  extra fabric at the back across the high chest to accommodate the roundness of my back. I managed this by altering  the shoulder darts. I also made the seam up the centre back curved to cope with the excess fabric in the top centre of the back above the bulge. This meant the back would fit at the neck and not stand away. This is something I had learnt to do when making my coats and doing a personalised ‘fiddle’  when I make stretch jersey tops. 

I ‘slept on this’ and re  read all I could before going any further. Much trying on, on both me and my body duplicate. 

At this stage I decided I would put the alterations for the toile onto a new paper pattern that I would cut, then I would make the whole bodice again with fresh gingham. I had to go slowly at this stage and not cut any corners. After all what is the point of making a fitting bodice shape which is not accurate? 

So this is the second attempt back                      

and front 

Please forgive the background and the lighting makes it look a bit loose but one thing I have learnt is ‘overfitting’ is to be avoided. There has to be room to move. The right sleeve fitting also needs improvement. However, I will never have a dress just like this. It is just to get the key measurements for any pattern I choose to make. I am in the process of making again one of my favourite patterns and will post that when it is complete. 

All in all this is better than I could ever have expected. 

  1. The post of 31Jan11 shows the comparison then of my body duplicate and the commercial one.  
  2. the Lutterloch system is a pattern making system based on the Golden Rule. Basically you get a small pattern of a garment, take your bust and hip measurements and use a special ruler to draw out your own pattern. It is suggested that you make a waistcoat first. I was concerned how it would cope with my rounded back. I was impressed with the fit of the waistcoat, the only alteration needed was to narrow the front. Post of 10April19 gives more detail. 
  3. Books used

10 used  at some stage of the Fitting Bodice Project. 

Aldridge Winifred Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear 

Bray Dress Pattern Designing 

Foster Betty Fashionmaker

Goulbourn Margaritha Introducing Pattern Cutting Grading and Modelling 

Long Connie Easy Guide to Sewing Blouses 

Margolis Adel P How to Design  Your Own Dress Patterns 

Palmer Patti and Alto Marta Fit For Real People

Rasband Judith, Liechty Elizabeth 

Schaefer Claire B Couture Sewing Techniques 

Singer Reference Library The Perfect Fit 

    1. Lots of gardening, machine knitting and weaving possibly?!

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Pink Lace Cardigan

In 2016 I took a course at Metropolitan Machine Knitting, Cheshire (now sadly closed due to ill health). This course was with a superb visiting Designer from Perth, Australia called Tony Bennett who runs Domani Knits (1).

As the week progressed we were encouraged to take one of his Designs and work it our way, aiming to complete the garment during the week. I chose to make a cardigan with a lace front and some lace at the base of the sleeves. To me, Tony is into detail, his garments have great finesse.

I loved how professional looking this cardigan turned out to be and I have received many lovely comments about it and have shown people how to do some of the details.

However, the cardigan has always bothered me on the shoulders. The cardigan needs a layer under it, eg a fine jersey top. The jersey top was visible where the back met the front at the inner shoulder. I have worn it with a fine polo neck and that didn’t feel quite right to me either - polo knit and lace over it was not my best look. 

I have spent some time thinking what I could do to improve it. 

This is the before look: 

What could I put in the gap? I needed a little triangle. So I mulled this over and decided to knit just that a little triangle. But wouldn’t it be better if it was one of the lace triangles, like at the bottom of the sleeve.

Knitting this was tricky, working out the stitch width, making sure the tension was right and manipulating the stitches when there were so few.

This is the result. 

I am more than pleased with it and now the cardigan has a new lease of life, just ready for the spring weather. 

(Apologies  for the change of colour, the first picture is the best representation!) 

  1. Tony’s web site is

Monday, 16 March 2020

Thinking about colour: Fair Isle Cardigans

I had these two cardigans sitting like this the other day and thought it was worth sharing the photo. 

What was most noticeable was the difference the colours made to the overall patterns. I love them both and wear them frequently. I originally knitted the black and white one (2)  as a trial for the naturally dyed one. It was a trial in terms of getting the size correct and the pattern placement, however how the colours work with one another ensures the natural dyed one is very different from the black and white one. Initially I  decided on which colours to aim for in the dyeing  with Ground Elder. Then I spent many days knitting samples and playing with colour combinations, hanging them up and looking at them close too and at a distance  until I felt I had the combination that I loved! Somehow I know when the colours work for me. (By days I don’t mean whole days, I like to mull it over, do something else, come back to it, sleep on it etc. This is not something I can do in a hurry.) 

Recently, I saw mention of an iPad app ‘The interaction of colour’ by Josef Albers. The cardigans are a good example of the effect of ‘interaction of colour’ (3). I am enjoying this app greatly and his take on colour does not begin with a colour wheel or discussions on complementary colours, triads of colours  etc. He starts with working with colour and aims to help users develop an eye for colour. There is a lot in the app, I haven’t got to the end of it so I have yet to find out if he mentions the effect of a person’s colouring on the colours worn. But then that would make a good app on its’s own. I have seen several attempts at this but nothing I would want to recommend. 

  1. I have previously written about the design and knitting of the Ground Elder cardigan beginning on 4 April 2018 
  2. I call it my ‘black and white cardigan’ however the black is in fact ‘deep charcoal’ and the white is a ‘natural’  white, both from Jamieson and Smith . This combination gives a less harsh look for my light colouring. 
  3. As I write this, the app is for iPad (not sure if there is an Android version), there is a free lite version, but the paid version is £13.99. It includes, text, plates, videos and has interactive activities to get you involved with understanding and working with colour.