Nottingham Knitter An East Midlands lass & her adventures in yarn Thu, 05 May 2016 14:59:18 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 50218745 Martin Storey KAL: Square 8 Slip Stitch Check Thu, 05 May 2016 14:59:18 +0000

Eek, the last square is here already. That went fast! You can download the pattern here. This week sees a final return for the slip stitch colourwork technique, this time to create a neat check pattern. A friend saw me knitting it and said that it looks like little windows and doors, I think she’s right!

As I suspected, Umber features this time round along with the return of one of my favourite shades from this colourway, Mole. They look great together, don’t you think?

Square 8 - Slip Stitch Check

Sadly I didn’t get on well with this pattern when I first tried it, probably because it’s quite tricky to know when to slip stitches and following a written pattern for something a bit unusual like this is a royal pain in the backside. After struggling with a couple of repeats, I decided to chart it to see if it would help. It definitely did! A visual chart to follow turned this square from misery to a doddle for me. If you’re also struggling to follow the written steps, you can download my chart here. The colours I used to differentiate between yarn A and B match the Calm colourway so won’t match exactly if you’re knitting a different one, but will still match to the darker and lighter shade from any of the other standard colourways.

I caught up on a bit of blocking last night, but I’m still running behind overall. At the moment I’ve knitted all squares for 4 of the clues, but between the remaining clues I still have 17 squares to do! I’m certainly not as far behind as I was with the last Martin Storey KAL, but at this rate it doesn’t look likely that I’ll be finished on schedule. Oh well, there’s plenty of time for sewing up and knitting the border before autumn I suppose!

Square 8 blocking

How are you getting on now the end is in sight?

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Martin Storey KAL: Squares 4 – 7 big catch up! Sat, 23 Apr 2016 10:12:34 +0000

Despite my best intentions, I’ve struggled to find the time for photography and blogging whilst keeping up with knitting and blocking on schedule. I’ve finally got a quiet weekend, I’m past a very busy period at work and I’m almost over the cold that I’ve had for the last week. So here we go!

Square 4 Lace Tree

Square 4 - Lace Tree

Download pattern

The tree theme continues from the previous square, but this time it’s lace instead of using knit and purl to make a texture. Also the first lace of the KAL! I didn’t like this clue as much as all the previous ones, I thought the motif was a bit small inside the square leaving a lot of blank space and for me it’s just not as pretty as the tree from square 3. I found this square harder to knit from memory as well, the pattern repeat didn’t seem as symmetrical or easy to remember as the previous ones.

Squares 1-4

At this stage the blanket is looking very grey-heavy, but I know there are other shades waiting in my project bag so I had faith that this would balance out as we got further through.


Square 5 Moss Spots

Square 5 - Moss Spots

Download pattern

The common theme of garter stitch border, stocking stitch panel and a textured motif continues in square 5. Sadly I didn’t find the moss spots motif very inspiring, but it was super-easy to knit from memory so I got through all the squares for this clue pretty quickly.

Squares 1-5

I’m not a huge fan of this yarn shade either (Almond), it actually looks a bit nicer in the photo than it does in reality. It’s hard to explain why I’m not keen on it, the shade is just a bit dull I suppose. On the other hand, it does help break up the greys nicely!


Square 6 Slip Stitch Tweed

Square 6 - Slip Stitch Tweed

Download pattern

The clever slip stitch colourwork from square 2 returns in a slightly different format in square 6 and the Almond shade makes a return as well, alongside Cocoa Bean. I really like the tweed-style effect that is produced with this pattern, it’s very homely. Changing colour every 2 rows made progress on this square probably the slowest of the lot so far, but the effect is worth it. I was pleasantly surprised at how flat this square comes out, up until now all the other squares have curled really badly and needed blocking quite heavily to get them flat. On the downside, and I don’t know if this was just my gauge, but this square came out very rectangular. Mine were much wider than they were tall so despite being very flat they still needed a good blocking to correct the dimensions.

Squares 1-6

At first I wasn’t convinced about Cocoa Bean for this square, but now I’ve seen it knitted up and together with the other squares, I actually really like it.


Square 7 Lace Heart

Square 7 - Lace Heart

Download pattern

Lace makes a comeback for this slightly unusual square. It starts much the same as all the others with a garter stitch border but instead of a stocking stitch main panel with purl stitches used for texture, this square has a reverse stocking stitch panel with knit stitches used to make the motif texture! I’ve never knitted reverse stocking stitch before and it was really off-putting, I had to concentrate really hard to ensure I was working on the right or wrong side as required. The increases and decreases were used to very clever effect around the edges to make the heart stand out from the reverse stocking stitch panel. Despite how much I enjoyed the reverse stocking stitch effect and the construction of the heart motif, I felt that the proportions of the heart shape were a bit off and it doesn’t feel like it’s central in the square either. So a bit of a love-hate thing with this square!

Squares 1-7

This is a new shade (Oats) and definitely one of my favourite shades in the colourway so far, along with Moonstone which I already loved from the Kaffe Fassett KAL and Mole from square 3 of this KAL which is still a firm favourite. There’s also a nice balance now between the greys and the naturals. Considering how much Umber was in the shopping list, I’m guessing it will feature heavily in the final clue next month. As Umber is a sort of brown-meets-grey shade, it should help tie all the greys and naturals together quite nicely.

Phew, so that’s me up to date! I’ve only just started on square 7 so I’ve got plenty left to do and in fact I’m behind on square 6 as well so there’s lots to do in the next few weeks…

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Martin Storey KAL square 3 – Textured Tree Sat, 27 Feb 2016 12:27:38 +0000

They say that three is the magic number and with Rowan’s Martin Storey KAL I’m convinced! Clue 3 has arrived and you can download it here. On a similar vein to clue 1, the new clue has a garter stitch border around a stocking stitch panel with a simple but effective textured pattern using just purls and knits. This time it’s a stylised tree and I think it looks really great, the stitch definition in Pure Wool Worsted is excellent so the tree stands out very nicely. The shade for this clue is new to me, in the Calm colourway it is Mole which is a lovely, soft, grey-brown colour. This is definitely my favourite square so far!

Again there’s a very clear chart this week which has made knitting these a doddle so far. I’ve finished two but only one was blocked in time for me to photograph it. Looking good against clues 1 and 2, don’t you think?

Square 3 - Textured Tree

I did a lot of blocking last weekend so I’m just about up to speed so far, only a couple of squares currently not blocked. Pretty good, I hope I can keep that up and not get swamped under tons of unblocked squares! How is you progress coming along?

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New summer yarn – Rowan Softyak DK Wed, 17 Feb 2016 12:15:20 +0000

Rowan’s most exciting spring/summer release this year is Softyak DK, a gorgeous yarn perfect for the warmer and transitional months. I’m sure yarn made from yak must exist, I’ve never seen it before so it was a real surprise to me when I saw this. Blended with yak and cotton, the yarn has a chain construction and slightly mottled effect due to the differences in why the dye is absorbed by the mixture of fibres. Even more surprising is how wonderfully soft the yarn is, I expected yak to be a bit scratchy but thatcouldn’t be further from the truth! It’s really comfortable against the skin.

Softyak DK

The palette contains a mixture of pastels and brights, making it versatile for your summer wardrobe.

Softyak DK 230 CreamSoftyak DK 231 SteppeSoftyak DK 232 PlainSoftyak DK 233 PrairieSoftyak DK 234 SavannahSoftyak DK 235 PampasSoftyak DK 236 LeaSoftyak DK 237 MeadowSoftyak DK 238 HeathSoftyak DK 239 PlateauSoftyak DK 240 PastureSoftyak DK 241 LawnSoftyak DK 242 PeatSoftyak DK 243 Terrain

To accompany the new yarn is the Softyak DK Collection of new designs. These are a few of my personal favourites.


This is quite a simple jumper, but the gathered hem at the bottom gives it a really interesting line.

Karma 1Karma 2


The simple lines make this easy to wear and allows the block colours to be the key focus of this cardigan. The relatively short body will make this great for showing off your nice summer dresses and skirts.

Nambu 1Nambu 2


A really cute tunic with some interesting textures, I especially like the ribbed cap sleeves. I’m also a sucker for a keyhole on front or back neck, so that’s a winning detail for me.

Jumo 1Jumo 2


Another example of simple lines allowing the colours to do the talking. I really like the exaggerated shoulder shaping and the flattering neckline on this.

Tinley 1Tinley 2


I fell in love with this jumper the second I turned the page and saw it. Something about the chunky garter stitch edges, the little buttons on the neckline and the overall shaping really capture my imagination.

Ketu 1Ketu 2

I was so taken with both Ketu and Tinley that I already have the yarn to knit both! I swatched for Ketu over the weekend and I’m now ready to cast on. I’m knitting it in the same shade as featured in the photo (Plateau). For Tinley I have chosen Plain as the base colour and will be using the remaining balls of Plateau for the stripes after I finish knitting Ketu with it.


I hope this has inspired you to check out Softyak DK, it really is a lovely yarn and I can’t wait to have a finished garment to wear!

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Martin Storey KAL square 2 – Slip Stitch Nordic Stripe Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:00:10 +0000

Clue 2 is here already, it’s come around fast! You can get the details here. This square might look intimidating if you’ve never done colourwork before, but this is actually a very clever cheat! Instead of true stranded colourwork like Fair Isle or intarsia, this uses slipped stitches to carry colour from one row up over following rows.

I was very glad to see Moonstone featured again this week, it’s such a gorgeous colour. Against the dark of Charcoal Grey it really glows.

The first repeat of this was a little tricky as I got used to how the slipped stitches worked and switching between the garter stitch and stocking stich rows threw me off a little to start with. After I’d done the whole repeat once, I finally understood the construction and after that I knitted the rest of the square completely from memory. I also carried my yarn when changing colours so that I didn’t have to cut and sew ends every time. In this square I carried either 2 or 4 rows depending on where the colour change happened. The 4-row carries were a bit messy especially because they carried up from a purl stitch on the right side, which doesn’t give as neat a result as if you carried from a knit row. If this was going to be the visible edge of the finished product I wouldn’t have been happy with how messy the carried colours are but because all these edges will be seamed to another square or the blanket edging, they will never be visible. Lucky me! With the pattern memorised and knowing I can carrying the colours between stripes, finishing the rest of the squares for this clue should be a breeze.

Square 2 - yarn carries on reverse


If you’ve never done slipped stitches before, the trick is to not pull the yarn tightly across the back of the stitches, otherwise you’ll pull them too tight. This will make your knitting look puckered and also throw off your gauge which will give you squares of the wrong width. Speaking of gauge, I did knit a swatch for square 1 to get the right needle size because my knitting is very loose and I always have to go down at least 1mm in needle size to get the right fit! I winged it with this square and just used the same needle size that I gauged for on the first square. If you often have awkward gauge or want to be absolutely sure you’re using the right needle size, do take the time to make a gauge swatch. But if you’re brave, just go for it! Some good blocking and then the final sewing together should even out any minor gauge mismatches.

Square 2 - Slip Stitch Nordic Stripe (detail)

As this design doesn’t have a garter stitch border, you’ll find that the top and bottom roll over a lot. When blocking, make sure to use plenty of pins on the top and bottom edge (if you aren’t using blocking wires) to make sure it lies flat and doesn’t curl back inbetween the pins, otherwise you’ll get really scalloped edges. The fact that the squares will ultimately be sewn together or attached to the border should help keep those edges straight in the finished product, but the more you can help yourself now via blocking the less trouble it will be later and the better the final blanket will look.

Square 2 - Slip Stitch Nordic Stripe

Let me know how your KAL is coming along. What do you think of this faux-colourwork technique?

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Martin Storey KAL square 1 – Moss Heart Sun, 31 Jan 2016 16:00:13 +0000

Clue 1 for the KAL landed on Thursday, have you started yours yet? Unfortunately I’ve been off work all week with back problems and the amount of time I can comfortably sit, stand or do anything other than lie down has been small. Nonetheless, I managed to make a start and blog it too It’s been a welcome break from endless hours of staring at the TV, although thank goodness for Amazon Prime helping me keep some semblance of sanity!

So this clue is a chart and I saw on Ravelry that quite a few people missed having written instructions. Personally I always prefer a chart if possible as I find it much easier to identify how the pattern is formed (by which I mean when to change between stitch types etc) and commit it to memory. The heart was actually pretty easy, I did the central chunk of the first one from memory and almost the entire second square from memory too!

These were the mental markers I picked up from the chart so that I only had to refer to it on occasion:

  • Top and bottom edging is 5 rows of garter stitch (knit every row)
  • Always knit the first and last 3 stitches on every row
  • Other than the edging and the heart shape the square is stocking stitch, so knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side
  • The heart pattern starts on the wrong side, by knitting the middle stitch
  • When working the heart pattern on the right side, always match the previous row done on the wrong side (knit the knits and purl the purls)
  • When working the heart pattern on the wrong side, start the double moss stitch one stitch earlier than on the previous row and end it one stitch later
  • Continue making the heart wider till it is 25 stitches wide (or contains 13 purl stitches when viewing the right side)

Other than that I only had to check the chart to remind me how many stocking stitch rows were required between the top/bottom edging and the heart pattern, plus a quick glance to remember how to do the shaping at the top of the heart.

Once you can read a pattern and take those visual clues, it’s much easier than reading numbers of knit and purl stitches. It’s far harder with written instructions to glean how the pattern changes from row to row. A good chart aids knitting from memory, and therefore you can knit more quickly as you don’t have to rely on the instructions for every row. It also looks like your knitting so it’s far easier to tell from a chart where you are and pick up anything you need to know for the next row. I hope that glimpse into my knitting brain is a useful insight for anyone getting used to charts!

As of this evening I’ve knit and blocked a couple of squares and I’m really pleased with them! You’ll find that they curl a lot once finished so will definitely need blocking. You can see my previous post about blocking with a board and wires for a really efficient way to block lots of squares at once. As I just had a couple to block and didn’t feel up to digging out my board and wires, I just rinsed them and pinned them out on a towel. You can block just as easily that way, but take extra care to ensure they are blocked square. As well as measuring each side to check they are all 20cm, you can also measure the diagonal to ensure you’ve not pulled the square out of aspect. The diagonal between opposite corners (AKA the hypotenuse) for a 20cm square is 28.3cm so check that measurement too and you’ve definitely got a perfectly pinned square!

Square 1 - Moss Heart

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Rowan’s Martin Storey KAL 2 Mon, 25 Jan 2016 11:15:21 +0000

Rowan have recently announced their second KAL designed by Martin Storey. After it took me so long to finish the last one, I was leaning towards not taking part this time, but when I saw the suggested colourways I just had to get involved! You may recall that I posted last year about knitting an ottoman cover to match our new sofas, well I also bought some yarn at the same time for cushion covers. I posted earlier in the month that I was working on one of the cushions while on the train:

The three shades I bought for the ottoman cover and the cushion covers were Umber, Moonstone (pictured above) and Almond all from Rowan’s Pure Wool Worsted range. Well it just so happens that all three of those shades are in the Calm colourway! Along with lots of other shades that will look gorgeous in our living room. So yes, I’m sold! The other colourways are Blues, Evergreen and Spice. Personally I really like Spice as well, but Calm is a much better match for our decor. If you want to jump straight to the juicy details, the shopping list can be downloaded here.

The first clue will be released on 28th January with subsequent clues being released every two weeks. The KAL closes towards the end of May when there will be a competition for completed projects in which you could win a £100 yarn hamper. If that’s not exciting enough, you can also enter on Facebook to win the yarn for the colourway of your choice for the KAL. Fantastic!

I’m all ready to get going, here you can see my colourway along with my footstool and in progress cushion cover. I’m so excited, I think it’s going to look great!

Martin Storey KAL - Calm colourway

Will you be taking part? If so, what colourway do you like?

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Project – Flames in the Furrow Mon, 18 Jan 2016 10:55:51 +0000

Pattern: Furrow to the Plough
Designer: Rebecca Marsh

Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Fino
Shade: 6362

Ravelry: Flames in the Furrow

I found this yarn when on a day trip to Ely with some of my lovely knitting friends. We had planned into the day a visit to Yarn on the Square which was a very cosy and welcoming place. I wasn’t in need of anything in particular so I browsed vaguely. As soon as I reached the Manos del Uruguay stand I was immediately taken by this skein of yarn, the colour was so amazing! I must have picked it up and put it down again about half a dozen times before I decided that clearly I needed it!

Yarn selfie!

Straight away I knew it needed to be a scarf so I scoured the Ravelry pattern search for something suitable. Very quickly I found the pattern for Furrow to the Plough and really liked it. When I read that the inspiration for the pattern and its name came from Firefly, I knew it was the one! The colour of the yarn makes me think of a big cosy fire which is why my version is named Flames in the Furrow.

Flames in the Furrow - double wrap

The yarn was a delight to knit with, really easy to work. The only downside was that the dye wasn’t well fixed and I did come away with orange hands when I knitted, but it washed right off so wasn’t a problem. Even better was that after one gentle wash prior to blocking, all the loose dye came out and I’ve had no dye transfer at all when wearing it. Good thing too, as I wear it all the time!

Flames in the Furrow - detail

I really can’t recommend this yarn enough, nor the pattern. It’s a very simple pattern repeat, just knit as if to do P3 K5 rib but because you cast on one less stitch than would be required for a rib repeat, you end up instead with a diagonal shift that creates the wonderful furrow effect. It’s also the perfect length for me – it can either be worn singly to give a big colour effect or wrapped double for a snuggly neck.


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Rowan Mystery Afghan KAL – Finally finished! Thu, 03 Dec 2015 16:29:04 +0000

So I’m back with a bang! Can you believe it’s been almost 2 years since Rowan first launched their Martin Storey Mystery Afghan KAL? If it’s been so long that you’ve forgotten, you can see my other blog posts here. And I have finally finished the huge amount of sewing required just in time (OK, a little bit late) to gift the blanket to my brother and new sister-in-law on their wedding. I think it looks absolutely amazing and I’m so pleased that they like it too.

Here are some photos of the finished Afghan spread out in our guest room. It’s a dark winter’s day here today so the lighting wasn’t great, but I think the colours still came out reasonably well.

PWW Afghan Complete

PWW Afghan TopPWW Afghan Bottom Left

PWW Afghan Bottom RightPWW Afghan Middle

What an epic project. I stopped and started so many times that it’s taken me 1 year and 8 months to finish. Yikes! But what a fantastic sense of satisfaction now it’s done. I hope this will inspire you to pick up one of your long term languishing projects over the Christmas period.

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Project – Cabled Ottoman Cover Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:00:00 +0000

Pattern: Cabled Ottoman Cover
Designer: Julie Farmer

Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted
Shade: Umber (110)
Pure Wool Worsted - Umber 110

Ravelry: Cabled Ottoman Cover

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may recall that a couple of months ago the brand new sofas arrived for our new home. I was very excited!

As predicted, I went straight to looking for things I could knit to go with them and this project is the first. I have an old ottoman footstool that I bought from IKEA when I was a student, it’s just a plywood cube with a small cushion that straps on top and it was very useful at the time. As you do when you’re a student, I bought one with a bright purple fabric cover and of course it just doesn’t match anything any more. So I wanted to knit a nice new cover that would match our forever furniture. A search on Ravelry brought back just the perfect pattern, it was almost exactly what I’d imagined I might want and it was a free download too!

I knew that for a footstool the I chose yarn would need to be hard-wearing and ideally machine washable so I could easily clean any grubby marks it ends up with in the future. For that reason, I picked Pure Wool Worsted. I’ve worked with it before and I know it’s great for all those things! Plus the range of shades is huge so I knew I’d find one that would match. I decided to go for one as close as possible to the colour of the sofa side/base so it would look like it matched. After pulling threads out of my shade card for half an hour or so, Umber seemed like a great match.

Ottoman Top

Having downloaded and read through the pattern, the first change I made was to knit it in the round. There’s no need to knit four separate sides and a separate top and it was very easy to convert. I subtracted two stitches from the amount needed for one side piece (they would have been the one on each end sewn into the seams) and multiplied that by four to get the total number of stitches. I cast on and put markers to denote the end of each side, with a different colour for the fourth one that marked the end of the round. To account for the reduced stitches at each end, the first rib repeat on each side was k1 p2, the following were k2 p2 as per the pattern, then the final was k2 p1.

Ottoman Side

The pattern for the sides is pretty easy to follow, the only difficulty is that the two cables have a different number of rows in their repeats (6 and 8). I used the two digits on a row counter to count the 6 and 8 respectively, to make sure I knew when I needed to cable for each one. Then just keep knitting till it’s tall enough, which is extra easy to check when working in the round. My circular needle cable wasn’t as long as it could have been, so I had to use some spare needles to hold some stitches in order to get the work over the stool when checking the length, but that was OK.

Once I got the sides long enough, I then worked this round:

  1. Knit side 1 as per pattern
  2. Cast off side 2
  3. Put side 3 on waste yarn
  4. Cast off side 4

Then I worked side 1 back and forth until it was long enough for the top of the stool. Once done, I worked a three needle bind-off with the end of the top and the stitches saved from side 3. Finally, I sewed the seams between the top and sides 2 and 4. Et voilá! Much less sewing and faff than working it flat.


The only disappointment for me is that because of the dark yarn I chose and how tightly the cover fits, you can see the white cushion cover and the pale plywood through the cables in some places. At some point I make take the time to dye the cushion cover a darker colour and maybe even paint the plywood too, although the cushion is a bigger problem. That aside, I’m really pleased with how it’s come out. Next in the Great Interior Decorating Plan – cushion covers!

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