jazz hands!

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We have had quite a bit of weather here recently – mittens are definitely required! So I whipped up a pair.

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You may recall, in the comments on this post, Trish suggested that a pair of mittens in the Epistrophy pattern would suit the name Jazz Hands. Well, Trish, your wish is my command. Here they are.

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The yarn I’ve used is wonderful stuff — Skein Queen Voluptuous “skinny”. This heavy 4 ply is a blend of 80% Exmoor blueface with 20% organic merino and it is just beautiful – plump and squishy, soft and woolly.

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I absolutely love Debbie’s dyeing technique and feel for colour. The semi-solid shades she produces work really well for colourwork, adding just a wee bit of depth and variation to the pattern. The shades I’ve used here are “powder” and “granite”, and the Skein Queen is currently dyeing up a batch of these shades to make available in kit form next week.

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Will I ever tire of these interlocking diamonds? They really are such fun to knit. Just like the hat (of which I’ve now made four), I found making these mittens really addictive, and knitted a few in different gauges while I fine-tuned the pattern. The mittens I’m wearing here were worked at 30 sts to 4 ins, but, after experimenting with needle sizes, I found that the yarn blooms up so nicely that its great to work at larger gauges also. Working the pattern at 26 sts to 4 ins produces a mitten which comfortably fits a man’s hand.

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As you see, the mittens feature an inset-thumb, around which the Epistrophy diamonds sit very neatly. I confess I’m really happy with the balance and symmetry of this design – sometimes a stitch pattern just works for the mitten’s small canvas. Because of the strong diagonals, I found I could design the shaping to follow the motifs in an exact and pleasing way. So satisfying!

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If you would like to whip up your own pair of Jazz Hands, Skein Queen and I will be simultaneously releasing the pattern, and hand-dyed Voluptuous yarn kits next Thursday, January 22nd . So watch out for the pattern appearing on Ravelry, and keep a close eye on Debbie’s shop for the yarn update!

playing in the New Year

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Hello! I hope you’ve been enjoying the first days of 2015. We travelled down to England to spend some time with my mum and dad — the latter of whom is pictured above, on tenor sax. Its been quite a while since I’ve heard my dad play. One of the worst consequences of my stroke was its effect on my hearing – more specifically, on my ability to apprehend and process sound. This meant that my relationship to music – one of my great loves – changed radically overnight. I virtually stopped listening to the radio; never put on a CD, and found live music a particularly difficult – often even painful – experience. I will write in more depth about the changes and improvements I’ve noticed recently another time, but let me tell you that it meant an awful lot to me just to be able to sit at Sedgely Park rugby club last Sunday with Tom and my mum and actually enjoy hearing my dad’s music again. As well as being a superlative sax player, my dad writes great jazz tunes, and recently composed a piece entitled Rhythm St Annes, which commemorates the (to me) momentous day when I managed to walk from St Anne’s to Lytham a few months after my stroke. It was really wonderful to hear him play it. We had a lovely afternoon.

It might interest you to know that my dad (Wally Davies) the drummer (Nigel Cretney) and the pianist (Gerry Tomlinson) all attended the same Prestwich primary school in the 1940s. All came of age in the vibrant 1950s and 60s Manchester jazz scene and all are still playing jazz today, around the North West.

I’ll be back soon with some knitting. Happy new year to you all!

fore and aft

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2014 has been very busy and productive year for me. In many ways, the past twelve months have been dominated by the creation of this book – designing and knitting the garments, researching and writing the essays, then working with my comrades on editing and production. Yokes has been a wonderful project to work on and I confess to feeling proud, in all respects, of the end result.

My work took me to some amazing places . . .

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like Iceland

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and Sweden

. . . and meant I got to meet some really inspiring people

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such as Kirsten Olsson

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and Hélène Magunusson

As well as the eleven garment designs included in Yokes, I also published several other patterns in 2014 . . .

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Ecclefechan Mitts

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Machrihanish

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Richard the Roundhead tam (part of the wonderful Gawthorpe project)

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A hap for Harriet

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Epistropheid

. . .and made a tea towel with my creative comrade, Felicity Ford

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There were some difficult things about 2014 — Tom spent several months working away from home, and lost his appendix in a Dublin hospital. My parents also had their own health issues to deal with, but my mum is now making a great recovery from her successful hip operation.

On a personal level, 2014 has been notable in a few other respects as well

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I put down roots.

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I learned to drive. (HUZZAH! WHOOOT! YAY!)

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I also spent as much time as I possibly could, during the Spring and Summer, working and walking outdoors. For five months of the year I looked pretty much like this. As a result, I really have felt healthier of late than I have done for many years. This can only be a good thing.

Most of all, then, in 2014, I have felt the benefit of living where I do – in our wee house in this lovely landscape – and I honestly feel incredibly blessed in enjoying my work so much. Having had jobs, in the past, that were not very good for the soul, I can tell you that it makes me really happy to be able to create, and research, and design, and write, and to simply be able to support myself through my endeavours. Thankyou for supporting them too.

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I’m looking forward to next year. Enjoy your Hogmanay, and see you all in 2015!

Love to you all
Kate x

a precious gift

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The day before Christmas eve a wonderful package arrived from Sweden. This was inside. Kerstin Olsson - who you may remember I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago, and about whose important work for Bohus Stickning I devoted a chapter to in my Yokes book – had done me the honour of knitting me a scarf!

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Oh my! And this was not just any scarf! For Kerstin had knitted this lovely gift from original Bohus Stickning yarns — the same yarns with which she knit and designed during the company’s heyday in the 1960s.

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An awful lot of work went into developing and maintaining the production of Bohus Stickning yarns such as EJA (Emma Jacobsson Angora). The dye palette was rich and varied, and, to meet Emma’s exacting standards, the spinning, blending, and handle of the fibres had to always be of the very highest quality.

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When I visited Göteborg, Kerstin showed me some Bohus Stickning shade cards. Handling them, I was astounded both by the quality of the yarns and the sheer richness of the palette: the vast number of shades the company produced was really pretty astounding. These yarns and palette were Kerstin’s raw materials. It was their quality and variety that allowed her to experiment so successfully with colour, shade, and texture, and to create her wonderful yoke designs, alive with hazy, shimmering hues.

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Kerstin’s aesthetic is clearly evident in this fabulous scarf! When I took it out of the bag Tom immediately exclaimed how wonderful the colours were – and they really are.

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The scarf features several beautifully blended pinks and browns as well as some very pleasing highlights of pale turquoise and tangerine.

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It is just so lovely. I am pretty overwhelmed.

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Kerstin also kindly included some wee twists of yarn in her package – for repairs.

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As a knitter, I’m often prompted to reflect on the meanings invested in acts of making, giving and receiving, and as a researcher, I often find that objects that interest me carry a sort of numinous significance . . . .Well, as both knitter and researcher, I can tell you that this beautiful gift, from an incredible designer and artist, created with these wonderful fifty year-old yarns really means an awful lot to me. I was deeply moved when I opened the package and am so very, very happy with my scarf!

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Thankyou so much for this precious gift, Kerstin. I feel very honoured indeed to receive it, and shall always treasure it.

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So, as December draws to a close, farewell, 2014, and thankyou all for reading! Its been lovely to share this year with you!

Hat season

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Clearly it is hat season in this house, as I appear to be unable to stop churning out Epistropheids. Tom requested one, and chose the yarn – Rowan Felted Tweed in Phantom and Clay.

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Both these shades feature pleasing sky-blue tweedy flecks, and speak to each other rather nicely. Tom wanted a predominantly brown hat so I reversed the chart colourway from dark to light. I was at first concerned that the Felted Tweed feels slightly less plump at this gauge than the TOFT dk I’d used for my original, but it knit up evenly, and the fabric bloomed really nicely after blocking. It has made a lovely hat.

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When I’d finished, Tom whipped up a giant pompom with the leftover yarn.

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So now we both have matching heids. Do we look insanely his and hers? WHO CARES.

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Hope you are all enjoying the season! I have to say that it feels rather nice to slow down a little . . . which for me seems to involve less time sitting at the computer, and more time sitting in front of old films knitting like mad!

Epistropheid is out!

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With massive thanks to my pal Rachel and her superlative & speedy editorial skills, Epistropheid is published!

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Just like my Epistrophy yoke, Epistropheid is knitted in TOFT Ulysses DK – a lovely British wool – and is topped with an alpaca pompom, also available from Toft.

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I’ve found this hat to be quite an addictive knit — I’ve already worked up two samples, and I’m now knitting up a third, as Tom has requested one for himself (don’t worry, I’m making his in a different yarn so we won’t be insanely matchy-matchy)

The pattern is written for three sizes of hat — I’m wearing the slouchy large size in these photographs — so whatever the size of your heid you should be able to make a hat to fit it.

And one last bit of housekeeping: I am going to do a final run with my mail crates to the sorting office tomorrow morning (Saturday 20th), so if you would like a copy of Yokes posting off before Christmas, now’s the moment to order!


The Epistropheid pattern is now available from Ravelry!

EPISTROPHEID!

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Dear amazing, wonderful knitters! I’ve had such fun reading through your comments on the last post!

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As many of you guessed, the name I’d had in mind for this hat was, of course EPISTROPHEID but there were so many fabulous, interesting suggestions I have been sorely tempted to change it . . .

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For example, “Pulsatorius” suggested the name Gåsöga – a word of which I’d never heard, but which, when I googled it revealed itself to be an incredible Swedish woven rug or blanket, highly reminiscent of the stitch pattern used on this hat. (Google it and see). (I came up with the Epistrophy pattern on my own, but there’s nothing at all original about it, as its pretty much what logically happens when you try to create interlocking diamonds over a repeat of 15 stitches.)

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Alixpearson suggested Pibroch (a Highland theme and variations), and among the many of you who deftly explored the realms of literary rhetoric, Pomona was the first to suggest Apostrophe or Anaphora. . . .genius!

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I was also excited by your many insightful jazz references! Janine was the first of many of you to suggest Fly Right (a name under which Epistrophy was also known when recorded in 1942 by Cootie Williams) and among many of my other favourite Monk tunes that you suggested, Helen Y chose Little Rootie Tootie (a tune with a special significance for me, because of the proximity of my childhood home to the transpennine railway line)

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Your comments also gave me a good laugh! The thought that I might, at some point call a design Jazz Wazz as Stacy suggested, or create matching mittens or gloves named Jazz Hands (thanks, Trish) has been the source of much amusement. Monkheid (first suggested by Louise) also caused some hilarity. Who knows, these patterns may well appear at some point. . .

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Anyway, in short, I’ve had a blast reading through your suggestions and, as promised, there are prizes!

MrsPotiron wins a Betty Mouat Cowl kit for being the first to correctly guess Epistropheid
Pulsatorius wins a Snawheid kit for pointing me in the direction of Gåsöga
AlixPearson wins a Sheep Carousel kit for Pibroch
Pomona, Trish, Helen Y, Stacy, Janine, and Louise each win a KDD tea towel for their great suggestions . . .
and there are spot prizes for Jo (Epitome), Inge (tracks in the snow), Marilyn (Bebop top), and Pamknits (Crepuscule with Brucie) – who each win a free pattern of their choice from my Ravelry store.

Could those of you to whom I need to post a parcel please email me at infoATkatedaviesdesigns.com, letting me know your shipping addresses? (I’ll email those of you who have won a pattern with a download code shortly).

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Anyway, as these pictures might suggest, my new Epistropheid is seeing some wear. I’ve made this sample rather large and slouchy – which is just how I like it – but I’m currently knitting up a slightly smaller second sample (for those with smaller heids, or who would prefer a neater fit). When that’s done (hopefully this evening) I’ll write up the pattern – so those of you who would like your own Epistropheid will also be able to knit one very soon!

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Thanks for playing along, everyone! x

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