Peerie Flooers kits

peeriescreenshot

A happy Beltane to you! It being the time of buds and flowers and new growth, I have today released kits of what is probably my most Spring-like design. Yes, Peerie Flooers is a woolly hat, but this is Scotland and a hat always comes in useful, whatever the season.

crown

I think the linchpin of this hat is shade FC 11. . .

fc11

This marvelous, quintessentially Spring-like green is one of two shades to have been recently re-released back into the Jamieson & Smith Jumper Weight palette. It is the colour of fresh leaves and new grass, and as soon as I saw it I knew it was the perfect shade to set off Peerie Flooers.
There are six other wonderful Jamieson and Smith shades in the hat, including 91 (egg-yolk yellow) and FC15 (a perfect forget-me-not blue).

peeriekitshades

. . .and the kit is all packaged up in my brand new tote bags, featuring hand-drawn illustrations of my designs by my comrade-in-wool, Felicity Ford, aka Felix.

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This lovely sample of Peerie Flooers has been knitted by my Shetland buddy, Ella Gordon, who is also expertly modelling it here.

lookingup

Peerie Flooers
: the colours of Spring brought to you today by myself, Felix, Ella, and shade FC11.
peerieshades2

The kit is now up in the shop, and if you are interested in the tote bags alone, I’ve also made these available for sale.

bags2

hat at Hermaness

hat1

I’ve had a lot of queries about Peerie Flooers over the past few days, so here are a couple more photos of the particular hat in question. After being approached by the wardrobe folk involved with Shetland, I knitted up this new sample especially for the production. I remember knitting it over the May bank holiday, while Tom was running the Jura Fell Race, and then posting it off the following week.

hat2

Mel also knitted up an o w l sweater sample, which sadly wasn’t used in the production in the end. But you may have spotted other Shetland knitwear on screen: Hazel Tindall’s beautiful Eid Top was unmistakable, even at a distance, and I was very excited to spot a Sheep Heid in the Up Helly Aa crowd. During filming in Shetland, my friend Sarah worked in wardrobe, and they did a great job.

hat3

These photographs were taken out at Hermaness last September, and because I know someone is bound to ask about my yellow raincoat, it is from Seasalt, I highly recommend it, and you can find it here.

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Thanks for all your well-wishes. I am still not at my best healthwise, unfortunately, but with careful pacing hope to be back up to speed very soon. xx

steeks 2: reinforcing and cutting

In this post I’m going to show you my preferred method for reinforcing a steek before cutting. My favourite method is the crocheted steek. Other methods are available, and I’m definitely not saying that this one is the “best” or the most “valid” or anything — it is simply the method that I like, and that I happen to use. I like it most because it creates a neat and flexible edge that remains at the same tension as the knitted fabric. I also like this method because the crocheted chain seems to ‘grab’ and contain the cut edges of the steek, squirrelling them away in a very pleasing fashion. Done well, there should be no “raw” edges, no loose ends of fraying yarn. All very reassuring for the nervous, novice steeker – and hopefully you’ll see what I mean in a moment.

Here’s a close-up of the swatch, which uses the Peerie Flooers motif. (This motif also features on a new (steeked) cardigan pattern which will be released in a week or so).

On the swatch above, you can see the steek stitches worked in stripes, sitting in the middle of the picture. A crocheted steek is always worked over an odd number of stitches — here, I’ve used five — and it is generally worked in a stripe or a checkerboard pattern. I like to work the five stitches in a striped sequence of background, contrast, background, contrast, background. That way you can see the central and two flanking stitches relatively easily. Your crocheted reinforcement will be worked over these three stitches.

Before you begin, weave in all your loose yarn ends to the back of the work. Place all of your weave-ends a few stitches to the left or right of your steek – that is – don’t weave in the ends to the back of the steek itself. This is to ensure that all potentially-fraying bits of yarn are sitting well-away from where you are going to cut.

Here are the steek stitches again. If you click on the picture below, you’ll see that I’ve numbered them 1 to 5 — stitch 1 to the right, and stitch 5 to the left, following the right-to-left direction of the knitting.

Here are charts that show the steek in the same colour pattern as the swatch, with the stitches numbered underneath, 1 through 5. Chart B has an arrow pointing to the centre stitch – stitch number 3. You are going to cut down the centre of this stitch later (as illustrated by the pink cutting line in chart D). Chart C has arrows pointing to stitches 2, 3, and 4. These three stitches are where you are going to work two chains of double (American single) crochet: the first chain will be worked between the front (left-hand) leg of stitch 2 and the back (right-hand) leg of stitch 3; and the second chain will be worked between the back (right-hand) leg of stitch 4 and the front (left-hand) leg of stitch 3.

I like to use a crochet hook a size or two smaller than the needle I used for knitting (here I’m using a 3mm crochet hook on a 3.25mm swatch). I also like to use a yarn that won’t break when working the crocheted reinforcement. Here I’m using a good strong sock yarn.

Now, make a slip-knot and place it on your hook.

Take your hook and push it through the bound-off edge at the top of the swatch, right through the centre of stitch 2.

Pull a loop through (2 loops on hook)

Pull the yarn through again, this time bringing it through both loops, securing your sock yarn to the bound-off edge of the swatch (1 loop on hook).

Now it is time to start reinforcing.
A) Working into the first row down from the bound-off edge, push your hook under the front leg of stitch 2 and the back leg of stitch 3 (3 loops on hook: 2 knitted ‘legs’ and 1 crocheted loop)

B) Now pull the working yarn through the two stitch-legs (2 loops on hook)

C) Pull the working yarn through both loops one more time. (1 loop on hook). You have now made one reinforcement stitch.

Continue in this manner, repeating steps A through C for every row of the swatch, pushing your hook under the front leg of stitch 2 and the back leg of stitch 3 each time. When you get to the bottom, secure your crochet chain to the cast-on edge of the swatch through the centre of stitch 2, and fasten off. If you look at your swatch from the side, this is what you see.

The loops of the crocheted reinforcement run through stitch 3, pulling it away from the centre of the steek and connecting it to stitch 2. You can also see the other leg of stitch 3 sitting next to stitch 4. This is where you are now going to work your second reinforcement.

Turn your swatch 180 degrees.
You are now going to work another chain in the opposite direction — from the cast-on edge to the bound-off one.
Push your hook through the centre of stitch 4, and fasten your sock yarn to the cast-on edge.
Working through the back leg of stitch 4, and the front leg of stitch 3, repeat steps A through C above, for every row of the swatch.

Here you see the second reinforcing chain beginning to emerge.

. . . and here are the two complete chains, lying parallel to one another.

For ease of cutting and neatness of finish, I have two top tips.
1) Do not work your crocheted reinforcement more than once into the same pair of stitches. It is tempting to do this, as logic would seem to suggest that more reinforcing is better, and should make the cut edge stronger. But, the opposite is actually the case. If you work more than one crocheted stitch into the knitted ones you produce a curiously rippling crocheted chain that refuses to sit flat and flush against the knitted fabric. With more crocheted stitches, the cut edge becomes flappy and difficult to deal with, rather than remaining neat and easily contained.
2) Make sure you turn your work 180 degrees before working the second reinforcing chain. That is: the first chain should be worked from top to bottom, and the second from bottom to top. This ensures that the front and back legs of stitch 3 are both pulled away from the centre of the steek, making it much easier for you to see where to cut. . .

. . . thus.


NOW THE FUN BEGINS: CUTTING TIME!!!

If you carefully pull the two crocheted reinforcements away from each other (as in the photo above), you will see a ladder of knitted strands running up the centre of stitch 3.

Take a small, sharp pair of scissors and cut each strand of this ladder, taking care not to cut the crocheted reinforcement.

Here is the steek with a few strands cut. . .

. . . here are the two edges beginning to divide from one another. . .

. . . and here’s what it looks like from the reverse. Can you see any raw ends? No, nor can I. That is because the crocheted reinforcement has magically squirrelled them away.



WHOOT!
You just cut up your knitting!

From the top, the reinforcement looks like a normal crochet chain.

From underneath you can see how it grabs the edge of the steek.

The edge is clean, secure, flexible and very stable.

BINGO!

Right then, steekers, I think that’s all for today.

In the final installment of this series, I’m going to show you how to further secure and contain the cut edges of your steek using a technique that I’ve called the “steek sandwich”. This technique features on my forthcoming cardigan pattern, where it is used to create neat facings at the front edge openings. Until tomorrow, then!

peerie flooers mittens


Gloves and mittens really are bloody tricky to model successfully. As soon as you stick a pair of hands inside them the trouble begins. You have to give the hands something to do, and this is difficult to accomplish without insane artifice. The leaf-throwing you have seen, but I also tried other strategies this morning, such as issuing strange commands

imitating a malfunctioning robot

grabbing a birch tree

And, my old favourite, hugging a sycamore

As you know, these mittens took several attempts to get right. They began as fingerless mitts, but, because of the 2-inch-deep repeats and their attendant colour restrictions, I found a mitt-design very difficult to balance. During the process, I was reminded several times of my conversation with SpillyJane in which she describes the creative possibilities of working within restricted parameters. All I can say is that my respect for her — already great — has increased about ten-fold. Anyway, the reason why I initially thought fingerless mitts would be a good idea was that one could, theoretically, squeeze them out of the yarn remaining from the hat. But with these mittens, you’ll probably have to get hold of another ball of each of the two background colours. A little extra yarn has enabled me to make the lined cuffs deeper and more cosy, to echo the hat-crown chart on the mitten thumb, and to create a much more more balanced overall design.

The pattern is now available here or here. And you might think I’m mad, but I’m now considering a peerie flooers garment. Not in fingering-weight, though. More anon.

mitten graveyard

Welcome to the mitten graveyard – where bad mittens meet their end.

A place of misplaced thumbs . . .

. . . cuffs of varying dimensions . . .

. . . endless ends

. . . and the same pattern repeated usque ad nauseam

Sometimes things get very nasty, and scissors are involved.

There are currently five mittens in the graveyard – but this morning one finally made it through to the happy land where all good mittens run wild and free. Or summat.

I think I have reached the end of this particular figurative road. Time to move away from the mittens. . .

colourwork and crown decreases

I’ve been receiving several queries recently about how to read colourwork charts when shaping the crown of a hat, so I thought I’d write a quick post about it. A number of knitters seem to be making peerie flooers as their first colourwork project: so if this is you, and you find yourself bewildered by ‘chart C’ – worry not! I explain everything at the end of this post.

There are many different methods of shaping a hat crown, but in colourwork, the decreases are often made around a central stitch, to create that pleasing spokes-of-a-wheel effect characteristic of traditional Fairisle knitting. One way of doing this is to pair familiar right- and left-slanting decreases (k2tog and ssk) around a column of knitted stitches. Kate Gagnon Osborne’s popular Selbu Modern has a crown shaped in this manner, and its decreases are charted in a similar way to this:

This chart represents one repeat, or ‘wedge’, of the hat crown. The knitter works across the chart from right to left, and when s/he encounters a pink square, works a right slanting decrease, knits the next stitch (from the column at the centre of the chart), and then works a left slanting decrease. The knitter continues on to the end of the repeat (left side of chart), and begins again. Each time a decrease is worked, a square disappears from the chart. The pink squares reveal where two stitches turn into one, and the column of blank squares illustrates how the centre of the decreases lines up to create one spoke of the crown wheel. Effectively, five stitches are involved in making this decrease: two stitches are worked together on the right; two on the left, and one stitch is knitted from the centre column.

Another common method of shaping a crown involves three stitches rather than five, and is known as a centred double decrease (CDD). This decrease gives each spoke of the wheel a decorative raised or mitred effect. There are a few different kinds of centred double decrease, but for clarity I’ll just talk about my favourite one here. It is worked as follows:
slip 2 stitches together as if to knit; knit 1, pass 2 slipped stitches over.
Some designers, such as Alice Starmore, chart centred double decreases in a similar manner to this:

Here, the knitter begins the round at the centre of the chart, works across from right to left, and when s/he encounters a pair of pink squares, slips two stitches, knits the green square to the left, and passes the two slipped stitches over. This next crown chart is exactly the same as the previous one, except that the knitter begins at the right hand edge, and the slipped stitches are illustrated as pairs in the centre, rather than off to one side.

I have used this particular method of charting centred double decreases on my Fugue and Caller Herrin’ hats. These are busy designs where the visual continuity of each round on the chart is important to the knitter. Because of this, the k1 part of each decrease is represented – as it is in reality – as the stitch directly to the left of the two slipped stitches. For other designs, however, it is useful for the knitter to be able to visualise each wedge and spoke of the wheel separately, and in such cases the k1 part of each centred double decrease is charted as a separate column of stitches. Here is the same crown chart again, but this time with the spoke – the k1 part of the decrease – represented in the column of stitches to the right.

Here, the knitter begins the round at the centre of the chart, works across from right to left, and when s/he encounters a pink stitch (left side of the chart), slips it, together with the next pink stitch (right side of chart), knits one green stitch from the column, and then passes the two slipped stitches over. This way of charting has the distinct advantage of allowing the knitter to see, relatively easily, what each wedge and spoke of the crown will look like. However, an element of confusion is introduced by the fact that the pink and green stitches at the right hand side of the chart are, in effect, worked out of turn. Also, some knitters might find something slightly anomalous in the way the decreases appear on this and the previous couple of charts, because the stitches that don’t exist anymore are actually still there (represented by the pink squares).* Additionally, representing the slipped/ decreased stitches with a different colour or symbol can sometimes make a chart quite difficult to read – particularly in a design where several colours are in use.

My favourite method of charting a colourwork crown gets around all of these problems.
Here it is.

Here the knitter begins in the centre of the chart (the stitch to the left of the yellow ‘start of round’ line) and works across from right to left. When they encounter the edges of the chart on a decrease round, they slip two stitches, k1 stitch from the right hand column, pass the two slipped stitches over, and continue around. The stitches that are slipped and decreased simply disappear from the chart (as illustrated here by the arrows on round 16). This allows the wedge of the crown to appear as it actually looks, enables the knitter to see clearly what colour the k1 part of the decrease is worked in, and lends the whole chart greater visual clarity.

Caboom

If you are a novice knitter making peerie flooers and I have merely messed with your mind in all the foregoing, just use the striped chart above as a guide (it has exactly the same stitch count as chart C in the pattern), and here is what to do:

Begin working from the chart on round 1, at stitch 1, (to the left of the start of round line)
Continue working, repeating the chart around, until round 4.
On round 4, *k 10 sts in pattern, slip 2 stitches, k1 stitch from the right hand column, pass 2 slipped stitches over, k11 sts in pattern.* repeat around
On round 6, you decrease again, by *knitting 9 sts in pattern, slipping 2 stitches, knitting 1 stitch from the column, passing the 2 slipped stitches over, knitting 10 stitches in pattern* and repeating around.
And so on – decreasing on every even round – until you reach the top of the chart, and return to the pattern instructions.

Here endeth the lesson.

Also, those generally interested in colourwork hats may be interested to know that you can now buy 3 of my patterns together as part of a collection I’ve called The Hats of Midlothian. (I was foolishly pleased with myself when I came up with this title, but when I, in a state of great excitement, told Tom, he remained completely nonplussed. Hey ho).

*It would be all too easy to boggle one’s brain with the question of when a slipped stitch ceases to be a stitch. I’ll leave the ontological knitting to Heather.

peerie flooers

I have surprised myself, and completed the pattern for the hat! Because I drafted everything up beforehand and was, in effect, my own test knitter, I was able to work from my own charts, tweaking everything as I went. After some careful graft yesterday, and a cool editorial eye this morning, it is now available here or here!

“Peerie flooers” means “little flowers” in Shetland dialect. I was stunned by the beautiful jewel-like moorland flowers while in Shetland this June. This hat recalls those tiny flowers, and their bright Summer colours. If you would like to knit this hat in a proper Shetland yarn, rather than a Yorkshire one, Jamieson and Smith jumper weight is ideal. (I’ve listed full colourway information for both yarns over on the designs page.) The pattern includes two sizes – I am wearing ‘small’ here – but the ‘medium’ size is slightly deeper and more slouchy.

This hat seems to have been the result of several kinds of happenstance. We actually planned to go away to Islay this past weekend, but decided to put off the trip until next month because Tom needed to work on his latest grant application. The fact that he was slaving away meant that I had nothing to do except knit like crazy, walk Bruce, and provide the occasional snack and cup of tea. For me, the result of this was a hat – but Tom was at least as intensely focused, and we must keep our fingers crossed for the outcome of that grant. . .

Time to put the kettle on – we have an exciting visitor today!

enjoy the peerie flooers!

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