Martin Storey KAL square 1 – Moss Heart

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

Rowan’s Martin Storey KAL 2

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?

Rowan Mystery Afghan KAL – Finally finished!

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.

Project – Cabled Ottoman Cover

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.

Ottoman

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!

Project – Marian Cowls

Pattern: Marian
Designer: Jane Richmond

Yarn:
Rowan Big Wool
Rowan Big Wool Colour

Shades:
Black 008Zing 037Jamboree 104
Ravelry:
Marian Cowl – Black
Marian Cowl – Green
Marian Cowl – Colour

A few years ago I was in a yarn clearance sale (I know, as if that ever happens!) and there was a single ball of Big Wool in black that I was sure I would be able to find a use for, so I grabbed it along with my other purchases. It then sat in my stash for ages as I had big plans for garments and other things, but no inspiration for this one cuddly ball of yarn. Eventually I decided it needed a fate, so I turned to the trusty Ravelry pattern search, and found Marian. The yarn it was intended for is even chunkier than Big Wool but I figured it would still work, and I was right.

The pattern is just very simple moss stitch in the round, but with a twist – literally! Before you join your cast on stitches to begin knitting, you do what you are always told not to do when knitting in the round – you take the first stitch on your left needled and twist it 360 around the needle. This creates a Möbius strip effect which gives the cowl its distinctive shape.

Having knitted the cowl, I had no real idea what to do with it. I hadn’t made it for me specifically and I thought maybe it could be a good gift, but I didn’t really decide and it sat around unused for a while. One day I think I was a bit chilly at home so I tried it on and realised that I absolutely loved it! In fact, between the Check That Cowl that I designed for Rowan’s launch of Kidsilk Amore around the same time, cowls became my new favourite thing in the whole world.

Marian Cowl - Black

Later that year I found another lone ball of Big Wool in green which I knew my brother’s fiancée would love, so I made her one in the same pattern as a birthday present. Unfortunately I never got a photo of it, but it looked brilliant in that bright shade of green.

Finally, when Rowan launched Big Wool Colour they sent me a ball for review. I knew just the thing for it by then, so that is now my second Marian cowl! I think it looks even better in Colour, the stitch and the curve really show off all the gorgeous flecks of colour in the yarn. Plus I can wear it with all sorts of outfits, because there’s a bit of almost every colour in there.

I really can’t recommend this pattern enough, just one ball of Big Wool or Big Wool Colour and an evening or two can make you a really versatile accessory. It’s brilliant for a gift in rush, too! You will need big needles though (I used 15mm) but I think they were worth the investment.

Marian Cowl - Jamboree

Marian Cowl - Jamboree close-up

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