Paper Dolls anew


When I first published this design a few years ago, I used a lovely British yarn that is sadly no longer available — Bowmont Braf 4ply. Many knitters prefer to make their sweaters in the same yarn as the pattern sample, and I often receive queries from folk enquiring about the yarn I used for my original Paper Dolls. I am always sad to tell them that it is no longer readily commercially available (almost as much for me as them — how I loved that Bowmont Braf . . . though I might have a secret stash of it somewhere . . .)*

So when, a few weeks ago, my friends at baa ram ewe got in touch to see if I’d be interested in using the new shades of Titus for a new Paper Dolls sample, I immediately said yes. Have you seen the palette? It is totally gorgeous.


This sample is knit using White Rose for the main colour, with Parkin, Chevin, and Eccup for the contrasts. I decided that I wanted to work with three contrasts because I just couldn’t decide between these tasty shades, and they all seem to work so well together . . . though you could easily just use two.

(ah, Bruce, always trying to get in the shot)

As well as changing the yarn recommendation, I’ve made a few alterations to the pattern. It is now nicely formatted as an eight-page booklet or ebook, which includes the (complementary) pattern for the Dollheid tam (so if you have previously purchased the Paper Dolls pattern on Ravelry, you’ll receive the Dollheid pattern as a free update). There are a few other improvements too, including clearer charts, a detailed sizing table, and a lovely hand-drawn schematic produced for me by Felix . . .


. . . who also helped out with photography.


I am very much enamoured of my beautiful new Paper Dolls, though sadly I shan’t get to wear it, as it will shortly be travelling to TNNA with baa ram ewe. If you see it there, please pet it for me.

The new Paper Dolls booklet is available now in a digital edition on Ravelry, or in print from my MagCloud store . . .

. . .and the print edition is also available to retailers for trade orders.


*I purchased a few kilos a couple of years ago from Lee. If you are interested in the unique hand of Bowmont fleece, the lovely people at Devon Fine Fibres breed Bowmont Sheep and make beautiful things from the ultrafine wool they produce.



The cloud pattern is now ready, and you can find it here! To celebrate its release, I thought I’d show you some pictures (taken in a cloudy Edinburgh yesterday) which suggest the different ways that the sweater might be made and worn. Mel’s storm cloud (warning – rav link) is knit in a yarn (rialto 4 ply) that is both more drapey and more form-fitting than the bowmont braf that I used. The shift to a light, even yarn, together with the lack of pocket, turn the hoody from fuzzy and cartoon-like to sleek and sophisticated. The puffed sleeves make for a light and feminine summer sweater:


But you can still stick your hood up for some furtive window shopping. . .


i-cord (ah! the wonder!) gives a neat finish to the neckline. Check out the deep purple facings. Very stormy.


As you know, I love the finish on this sweater — the facings and edgings are what really make it for me — so the pattern takes its time over the finish, with stitching notes, and diagrams for clarity.


There are also instructions for an alternative, plain, lozenge-shaped pouch (if you don’t want a cloud, but do want a pocket on your sweater). I’ve written the pattern in nine sizes (covering girls 22 inch to woman’s 44 inch chest) and highlighted several points in the instructions at which you might modify the sweater to create the best fit for your body shape. Of course, the fact that the sweater is knit top-down makes it infinitely, and easily, modifiable. The neckline is nice without the hood, for example, and would look lovely with a different edging, (if one was, for some unaccountable reason, tired of all that icord). Hearty thanks to Mel for expert knitting and advice, as always. You can see some more photos of her looking fabulous in her storm cloud over on ravelry and acquire the pattern, if you are so inclined, above from the designs page. Cheers!

(thankyou, Gordon, for this great photo)

me news


Some of you may be interested to know that I’ve a feature in the new Rowan Magazine (no.46), which is out today. The piece is about British industrial textile history, and the past and future of two important mills — Cold Harbour, and New Lanark.* I really enjoyed writing this feature, as I’m sure you can imagine. In other me-related news, I have finally found some time to finish off not one, but two patterns, which I will be able to ‘release’ in a few days. The first is, at long last, the cloud (about which some of you have been asking) – hurrah! The second is what I am knitting here, on this Jura beach, several weeks ago.


More about this garment very shortly.

Thanks for your thoughts on the last post. I now find myself able to step back and ponder my own cashmere-antipathy, which — legitimate and important objections to a particular global economic model and and its environmental impact notwithstanding — I fear may also be tinged with a (perhaps suspect) aversion to cashmere’s (incidental?) associations with empire, excess, and a certain kind of femininity. Should one really condemn a fibre and an entire fibre industry because of the way its symbolic connotations feed into a particular (gendered) debate about luxury and the mass market? Because I feel that cashmere-as-commodity somehow offends my version of feminism? I feel much the same way about cupcakes, for example, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying them. And, as Colleen points out, pleasure is not an insignificant component of one’s relationship to ‘luxury’ textiles which can be consumed and enjoyed in thoughtful (and sustainable) ways. Heather also neatly puts her finger on my capacity for self-delusion. While I am a complete sucker for a certain kind of nationalistic marketing (the kind that involves sheep and rolling hills, roaming free and Yorkshire Tea, ahem) I sneer at another which (to me) unfortunately suggests lounge or leisure wear, golf**, and Ronnie Corbett (cue ‘sorry‘ theme tune). Show me a coachload of cashmere-clad English golfbuddies heading for the House of Bruar and I will run a mile. On the other hand, wave 100g of sludge coloured yarn under my nose that smells vaguely of the farmyard, with an ovine phizog depicted upon it, and I’ll have shown you the colour of my money before you can say “British Sheep Breeds.”

I also wanted to say how much I always enjoy your book recommendations, and to thank you for two recent ones in particular: Sigrun for Lucy Lippard’s The Lure of the Local and Kate M for the poetry of Sorley MacClean, which I am really enjoying, and wishing I could read in Gaelic.

*special thanks to Felix and the Felix-mobile
**apologies to Fiona

hey, you . . .


. . . get off my cloud!

Well, now the pattern is at last nearing completion, I think I can show you my new hoodie — knit top down, with pleasing puffy sleeves, and a cloud pocket, inspired by the old BBC weather symbols. It is a hoodie to be worn in the summer and is (I hope) a little suggestive of that season: a pale blue sky, and a drifting cloud. If you’ve been reading my posts about making this hoodie, you’ll know that what I particularly love about it are its details: its sleeves, its pocket, its neat hems and facings, and (of course) its acres and acres of i-cord.


At first I tried to knit the pocket ‘blind’, just making up the cloudy shape as I went. But I soon realised that this would not work – on my first attempt I merely made a nice, mound shape, with some even nicer 3 stitch icord around it. After a few more (failed) attempts, I decided to do things by the book, and actually graphed out the angles and dimensions of the cloud in the original BBC weather symbols designed in 1974 by Mark Allen. Then I translated my maths into something knit at 6.5 stitches to the inch, and outlined it with a bold 5 st icord. Nifty! This is what I based my pocket on:

(© BBC)

And this is what it became.


Hurrah! I was very pleased with the cloud, and am also pleased with the pixie-style hood. This is picked up around the neck and shoulders after the rest of the sweater is complete. It lies nice and flat thanks to some neat facings (made in a similar manner to the way I describe here) and then the hood and front-neck are finished off together with (yes) a continuous icord bind off. The neckline sits nicely, though I do say so myself. Here is the hood from the back:


and – wait for it – from the front.


I fear I may be starting to resemble a cartoon character, but I’m seriously pleased with the end result — so really, who cares? Its worth saying now that in the final pattern the cloud pocket will be an optional extra, and that instructions for a more conventional kangaroo-style plain pouch pocket will be included. My prototype is made in (yes, you guessed it) my favourite Bowmont Braf , but I reckon it would work equally well in any robust 4 ply. Even though the gauge is fine, the top-down seamless stockinette makes for a relatively quick knit. In fact, the only thing that is time consuming is the finishing — and I reckon that is worth doing well. I’m now receiving some welcome and expert assistance test knitting a rather different prototype version, which I hope will give some sense of the different ways in which this hoodie might be knit. I am also pleased with the name (suggested by Tom and, um, Keith Richards) which evokes the cheesy 70s feel I was aiming for in the design. And I can already testify that it is good at what it was designed for– summer walking.


Well, I’ll get off my cloud for now – but I thought I’d let you know that a pattern is coming soonish, that the sweater will be available in 9 sizes to fit any chest from 24 to 44 inches with ease, and that I’m taking my time in order to get things just right.

Name: (Get off my) Cloud
Pattern: by me. Tis imminent.
Yarn: Bowmont Braf (or similar 4 ply / light sport weight that knits at 6.5 st to the inch).
Ravelled here.

PS I want to thank everyone for your allotment congrats. The elusive key has finally arrived. We are very excited. More soon.


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