now available

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the owlet pattern is now available on the designs page and through ravelry.

Included in the download are two separate patterns for the baby and kid owlet, covering 10 sizes from 6 months to 12 years. I’ve written the baby pattern in an aran weight, and the kids pattern in chunky weight yarn. When test knitting a number of yokes I found that while chunky owls rather overwhelmed a toddler-sized sweater, the sheer number of aran-weight owls did the exactly same for a kids sweater. Thus both the baby and kid owlets feature between 12 and 16 owls, which is plenty for a wee person, particularly when one considers sewing on all those button eyes. Both sweaters incorporate much more positive ease than the adult o w l sweater, so that they can be easily worn over layers of vests and t-shirts. They are also designed with a shallower yoke depth, and a wider neck than the adult o w l s, to allow for proportionately larger heads and smaller chests/shoulders. I’ve also included some (optional) gentle waist shaping at the top end of the kids owlet size range, which you may want to use if knitting for a girl.

Thanks for all your kind words about the general unpleasantness with which I’d rather this pattern wasn’t associated. I’d also like to thank Clothkits (with whom I was working on the intended owlet kit), for being so incredibly supportive. Yesterday, I had to write yet another formal letter of complaint to yet another company (based in Germany, this time) who were distributing the adult owl pattern from their website. My last word on this tedious little farrago is that, having taken some advice, I’ve decided to move the code of the adult o w l s from my site over to ravelry, where it will still be available as a free download. This may at least deter people from just nabbing the pdf and reproducing it elsewhere.

cheers, everyone, and enjoy the wee o w l s!

happy birthday, Doris

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Doris is one year old tomorrow. She has really made my day. Thankyou, Doris, for providing these lovely, sunny pictures which will illustrate the imminent owlet pattern. And hearty thanks, too, to Abi and Alby who were kind enough to pop out and meet me this lunchtime. These photographs were taken in the small pavilion that forms part of the Queen Mother’s Memorial in Edinburgh’s Botanical Gardens. I love this tiny grotto-like building, and in this instance, my fondness for shell-lined interiors supersedes my antimonarchical tendencies. The pavilion is built of Caithness stone and while its interior walls are lined with mussels, scallops and spoots, the ceiling is decorated with highland fir-cones. It is a very beautiful and distinctly Scottish space.

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Many happy returns to Doris, and many thanks, again, to Abi!

o w l s. the pattern.

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Yes, the o w l s pattern is ready. You can now download it as a PDF under ‘designs’ (see tabs at top of page). Later today I hope to be able to contact all of you who requested the pattern by email. I’ve encountered several wrongly-typed or rejected addresses on the list, so if you do not receive a message from me, it is not because I’m ignoring you — just please download the pattern here. I hope to soon have it listed as a ravelry download also.

A few things I wanted to say:

THANKS. Big thanks to my knitting comrades Hannah, Kate B, Melanie, and Ysolda, who have shared their champion knitting skills and technical expertise most generously. As with most things knitwise, this pattern has really benefited from collective knowledge and effort.

Short rows. The original o w l s featured Japanese short rows. These can be tricky to work in the round and (I discovered) it is even trickier to describe precisely how to work them in the round. The horror! There are some great online tutorials for working Japanese short rows back and forth (here, for example). But when you are working in the round, you encounter the turning point / gap in (as it were) the wrong direction, and face the tricksy problem of forcing the turned yarn back on itself, up onto the needle, and closing the gap by twisting the previous stitch so that it sits the wrong way round as well as knitting through a loop that is stretched to near breaking point. Sheesh! I take my proverbial hat off to anyone who has figured out a straightforward way to describe this. Anyway, for ease, clarity, and my general sanity, the pattern has reverted to good old ‘wrap and turn’ to work the short rows. This is certainly an easier method for beginners (and many people who have asked for the pattern have described themselves as beginner knitters). But I do like Japanese short rows (even though I can’t for the life of me describe how to close up their gaps in the round) and if you like them too, I recommend you use them in place of the wraps and turns the pattern includes.

Expertise. Lots of you have emailed me asking if o w l s is suitable for a beginner knitter, or as My First Sweater. ™ I would rate the design as reasonably easy, but while my pattern shows you how to make an owl sweater, it cannot teach you to knit. The pattern begins with a list of necessary skills. If you are familiar with the techniques on this list, you should be able knit the sweater.

Yarn rationale and working at different gauges. Many knitters are not fond of chunky yarn, either because it can be a rather blunt instrument, design-wise, or because of its general bulk. This pattern reduces bulk through the fit of the sweater and uses chunky yarn because 1) I wanted to be warm and 2) I wanted BIG owls. A chunky yarn produces several large, tall, owl cables standing proudly on the yoke. If you re-work the pattern for finer yarns and gauges, your owls will be smaller and perhaps a little less owlish. On the other hand, a finer yarn would produce more owls. This is always a bonus.

Labour. Value. Credit. Designers should be paid for what they do. For us to keep knitting the shawls and sweaters and socks that we love, we should be supporting our designers, and paying them in a way that reflects our appreciation and their hard work. To not do so devalues both their talents and their labour. It is the same issue as with other forms of work that are performed independently, or (in a rather different way) within the domestic sphere — such labour should be properly remunerated, and properly valued. This is why what Twist Collective is doing is so great, and I have no truck with those who churlishly complain on Ravelry and elsewhere about paying for individual patterns. Seriously, folks! Should your pleasurable hobby be the focus of designers’ charitable endeavours? I think not.

The pattern is available to buy here or here.

Thankyou. And enjoy your owls.

owl release

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It is curious what mist can do to one’s sense of place. A little cloud descends, and familiar hills one has climbed many times before are transformed into strange, alien moonscapes. The whole narrative of the landscape suddenly becomes lost in its details.

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Having missed our Highland walking with Felix because of seasonal colds (bah! boo!) it was very nice to get out into the Pentlands this morning. A good walk really is the best way to break in the new year.

And if you are thinking that the sweater on my back looks a wee bit familiar – yes – it is indeed the Owls. The poor beasties were well-nigh frozen up there in the foggy, frosty hills — but they certainly kept me warm.

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They were very nearly snowy owls as that haze of moisture began to turn to ice.

Since Hannah’s impressive and speedily knitted Owls appeared over at Ysolda’s, lots of you have been asking about the pattern. It is imminent! I promise! I’m away for the next few days in a wonderful place without computer access, but shall release the owls as soon as I return. The pattern will be free, and I’ll stick it up on Ravelry, as well as emailing those of you who left a comment on the original post. And I should also mention that myself and these lovely people are now developing a kid’s version of the pattern which will be available in kit form.

Happy 2009 everyone!

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