Telling you I was pleased to finally get this pattern published would be a bit of an understatement.
The idea for this pattern first germinated after I published Griffin. I then knit the first prototype in February 2013 but it was one of those sample knits where things didn't quite go to plan and I ran out of yarn. Rather than admitting that the yardage chicken had beaten me fairly and squarely, I used all my resources and tricks to get that sample finished. Contrast colour for the pocket, hem, arm and hood edging. I might have even shaved an inch of length of the body. While I had a finished knit, it wasn't quite the sample I wanted to photograph as there was perhaps a bit too much contrast going on. So it got put aside while I got endlessly distracted by shinier newer ideas. I am totally hopeless like that.
I'm not sure what made me revisit the pattern, which incidently had sat there in a fully written and graded state all this time. It was perhaps the push from a couple of eager knitters. They'd seen the sample photos, they were keen for the knit. Thank you eager knitters, sometimes the push from you guys is just what I need to get back on the right track!
Earlier this year, I did decide to revisit the pattern and finally finish it. (That's been a bit of a focus of mine this year, attempting to match patterns to the many many samples I have knit.)
With this revisit, however, I decided there were a couple of things that I wanted to change or revise. The first thing was the front yoke. In the original, it's all stocking stitch with just the one row of garter at the bottom where it joins. I wanted there to be something a bit more to the yoke and it took me a while to settle on texture. This broken rib stitch seemed just perfect as it provided texture without too much fiddly detail.
I quite liked the idea of the contrast I used in the original Samwelle, but it wasn't quite balanced. Using a couple of different colours always works well for those knitting from stash. Most knitters have got a couple of skeins of colours lying around, so this is perfect for using up those type of skeins; the ones you might have stashed to knit a cardie or jumper when your kids were smaller. And then they grew. And you didn't get around to knitting it. And now 200g isn't enough for a jumper. Or maybe that's just me that has that happen to them?
Anyway, contrast, let's get back to the contrast. I decided to keep the arm and hood but lose the hemline. That's what I like to call getting rid of the "bon-bon" effect (detail at both ends ~ not so good for balance) I liked the idea of the pocket picking up some contrast but the whole pocket was a bit much. Stripes, as always, was the answer. It's amazing how often in life stripes is the answer. So I striped the pocket and after than it just seemed right to stripe the hood too.
Of course, if you wanted to there is no reason that you couldn't knit Samwelle all in the one colour.
So let's talk construction, as that's the really fun bit here.
Samwelle is knit from the top-down, just like the majority of my patterns. It begins with some saddle shoulders. Not just your typical saddle shoulders though. I got a bit frustrated at the stop and start nature of those and all the seemingly unnecessary ends it created. The approach used here, is rather unorthodox but it creates saddle shoulders and the back all in one process; no stop and start and no extra ends to weave in. And yes, this was indeed a technique borne out of my quest for lazier knitting. Lazy knitters don't like to weave in too many ends.
So this all in one saddle shoulder approach gets the vest going and the broken rib keeps it interesting for the yoke. The stripes on the kangaroo pocket break up a quick stint of stocking stitch in the round. I love this way of doing kangaroo pockets - again it's a process that seeks to minimise end weaving.
Once the body is knit it's up to the hood with a continuation of the stripes. The hood itself, used shaping similar to a sock to create the shape. I love this way of constructing a hood, it really does lend itself to creating such a perfect shaped hood.
From there it's some quick ribbing and a rolled edge (lazy knitter's i-cord edging) to finish the edging.
And that's it, Samwelle is knit up in the blink of an eye.
I knit the sample in Swans Island Natural Colour Merino Worsted at a tension of 18 stitches and 26 rows. This is what I would call a lighter worsted weight yarn so it does provide the garment with a bit of drape and means it's not too thick or cumbersome for kids. Kids don't really like a lot of weight in their garments. It would work equally well in something like Quince and Co's Lark.
The Swans Island is an interesting yarn, it is dyed on an organic base and I absolutely love that all these colours are natural dyed. However, like many American processed merinos, it does have a certain cottony feel to it that makes it hard to equate it to being the same base as the buttery softness of the Australian merino brands such as WOOLganics and White Gum Wool. I've noticed this with a couple of the American processed merinos I've used and I've wondered if it's due to the processing or different growing conditions or even something else. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? (It doesn't mean I don't like Swans Island, I do. It's just a very different yarn in the way it behaves to in comparison to the merino I'm used to)
Samwelle is now available for purchase at both Ravelry and Love Knitting.
As much as I love the joy of a beautifully finished piece of knitting, and as much as I will go to great lengths and employ an arsenal of tricks and techniques to get there, (remember my fixation with neat underarms?), at heart I am a bit of lazy knitter. If my knitting offers me a shortcut, I'll take it. Too many ends to weave in on a hat? Yeah, I might just ignore them and call it a new kind of head thrumming. Call it shortcuts or laziness or even sensible use of precious time, that's just the way it is. Yet, at the other end of the spectrum, I'm quite happy to rip an entire jumper if the fit isn't right for me. Go figure.
Given I'm a bit lazy, I also love stuff that looks really clever or intricate but isn't. Give me some slipped stitch knitting in a couple of colours, and I'm one very happy knitter.
So this little collection of patterns that I'm going to chat about today, Deception, ticks all those boxes.
All these hats use slipped stitches to create stitch patterns that are absolutely dead easy but look super clever and intricate.
All these hats only use one colour per round. Yep, even this one below, which really does look quite tricky. But it's not, it's really just working stripes and slipped stitches!
I tend to think of this type of knitting as being a bit like cheats colourwork, but really it's not about cheating. It's about using the techniques available to create something that looks great with the least heartache and hassle required. For me, that's an integral part of my knitting experience. I want to love the finished project, but I also need to enjoy the process of knitting. And while I am quite partial to colourwork knitting, I do know that it's not everyone's cup of tea. And I also know, that even as much as I like it, there are times that I just don't want to be messing with yarn strung over both my hands and the level of concentration required. Personally, I actually think the hat above looks like it uses techniques that are more complicated that colourwork ;)
When I started designing this group of patterns, my aim was to play around with these type of stitch patterns. In doing so I also wanted to explore a yarn that I was absolutely familiar with but in a new way. Over the years, I've knit at least one garment in every colour in the WOOlganics range, but when I started pairing them together and playing with different colour combinations; it was like a whole other curtain into their possibilities opened up. I couldn't believe that I'd previously missed how beautifully every single colour combines and works with every other colour in the palette. Even teaming unusual colour combinations together worked so beautifully and created such unexpected results.
The ultimate example of this playing with the WOOLganics colour range probably came with the hat below which used ten colour (you can use just two if you want). The stitch pattern here is again the result of a slipped stitch pattern interspersed with two round stripes.
Yes, there were an awful lot of ends to weave in in this hat. Well, there would have been if I had sewn them all in. Remember how I was talking about hat thrumming. The inside of this hat is actually just as spectacular as the outside, it's like a rainbow mohawk! No, you can't really carry a yarn strand up 18 rounds, which is what you would need to do here.
So the strange names?
Don't worry if you're struggling to pronounce a few of them, most of them are pretty quintessentially Australian words. These are place names that belong to a very rural area in Victoria, Australia, to the west of the Gariwerd National Park (Grampians).
It's hard to discover the origins of some of these place names. Some were probably originally Koori words that were misheard or corrupted. Words we'd spell differently now with a better understanding of the indigenous language developing. Cherrypool, for example, is the anglicised version of Djarabul and Woohlpooer would be spelt Wulbuwa. Wulbuwa actually means 'to burn very fiercely', which given the landscape of this area (scrubby bush) and its propensity for bushfire, it is extremely well named; as always seems to be the way with the Aboriginal place names. Laharum, I'm not sure ~ my research shows me that the local indigenous people did use the word lar for camp.
All these hats can be purchased either individually or as part of the e-book over in my Ravelry shopfront here.
Pop on over and give them some love <3
Do you find the etymology of place names as interesting as I do?
Which of these wee hats is your favourite?
It really feels like we only just got back from the land of the long white cloud, but truly we've been back for four weeks already. Four crazy hectic insane but very fun four weeks - for the most part.
We spent three weeks in New Zealand, most of that time living and travelling in a motorhome, enjoying the beauty of free camping, very little domesticity and the amazing landscape that is New Zealand. Three blissful weeks in which you're probably guessing I visited my fair share of yarn stores. Indeed I did, and I thought it only appropriate that I share with you my finds. Most of my yarn shopping was limited to the South Island. Whilst on the North Island we stayed in Napier for Knit August Nights (a blog post on that to come still, I hope!) and after that my family were surprisingly a bit yarned out and weren't that keen for anymore yarn stores. I probably couldn't fit any more yarn in our luggage either, to be honest.
If you're familiar with my crafting ethos, you will know that my preference is to purchase local. And this is exactly what I sought out on this venture. While there are many yarn stores in New Zealand that stock a wide range of yarn, my interest was purely in those who stocked a good range of New Zealand yarn; yarn that had been grown, processed and milled in New Zealand. So this was my target, this was the yarn I wanted to discover.
Our journey began in Christchurch. Unfortunately, it seems to be the trend that whenever we fly into somewhere on a travelling holiday we are in such desperation to get exploring that the first city we encounter, we don't really explore. That was certainly Christchurch for us. I believe there are some perfectly good yarn stores in Christchurch as yet I however, haven't explored them.
Incidentally, Christchurch is the home of Outlaw Yarn, a yarn that if you do visit New Zealand you should be on the look out for. This is a luxury yarn that is distinctively New Zealand but also packs a a good deal of attitude with their interesting blends. Think yarns that contain alpaca, merino, possum and polwarth. Whilst travelling the South Island I spent my time knitting up some Outlaw Bohemia Sport, which truly felt like I was doing my thing for the local environment. I felt like an Aussie environmental warrior on a tour of reclamation and helping the cause of the kiwi (Deb has a great outline on her webpage about why possums are such a menace in New Zealand, a land of no native large mammals - obviously a very different landscape to Australia which is dominated by native mammals).
Ashburton is the home of the Ashford Craft Shop. This is one place that I really wanted to visit, unfortunately we drove through Ashburton late in the day and the store was already closed. Ashford has a well established place in the history of New Zealand wool. They are renowned for their world famous spinning wheels as well as their yarns, which are spun at the Bruce Mill in Milton (more on that shortly).
You can find the Ashford Craft Shop at 427 West St Ashburton.
While I was in New Zealand, a relation also recommended the Yarn Barn at 606 East St, Ashburton.
Geraldine: I'm making special mention of Geraldine as even though I didn't stop at the yarn store there, I did purchase some yarn from this region while I was at Knit August Night, Maniototo Wool. This area of New Zealand, Central Otago, lays claim to being the hottest, coldest, driest and most inland part of New Zealand. Maniototo Wool is a Merino/Romney cross with a mid micron level. In a world of worsted spun wool, it's interesting to see a woollen spun yarn such as this. It's lovely and robust and is spun on the island in Christchurch. Even though Maniototo don't have a farm gate or a bricks and mortar presence in Geraldine it is a yarn to keep your eyes out for.
Geraldine is also home to The Tin Shed at Rangitata R D 22, another iconic New Zealand yarn store, stocking a wide range of local alpaca, wool and possum.
Oamaru was our first yarnie stop down the east coast. This is such a beautiful little town with a big history. A stroll around the few blocks fronting the main beach area whisper of past glory days. Much like many Australian country towns, beautiful stone buildings speak of a once foretold promise for this town; 19th Century limestone buildings that now house a different present than that envisioned.
In the down-town historical precinct, you will find a collection of galleries and workshops with a wide range of artisans at work. These were once the waterfront warehouses and stores of yesteryear. It is in this precinct that I found The Oamaru Textile Emporium, and oh what a find it was. As my first taster of a New Zealand yarn store, this was going to be hard to beat. Here I found rare breed hand-spun yarns (some beautiful Romney, Gotland and Polwarth), the hand-dyed yarn of Doe Arnot (an amazing weaver and dyer), as well as the offerings of other local dyers. Doe's yarns are dyed on a huge range of different bases, but what really drew my attention was her gorgeous range of naturally dyed yarns. Her yarns are sold under the brand DoeSpins and are well worth seeking out.
I was also really excited to find The Oamaru Textile Emporium stocks the yarn I was at that moment knitting, Outlaw Yarn. This yarn is a perfect match for this town with its Victorian feel and leaning towards the Steampunk vibe. Make sure you take a walk down to the foreshore from here to check out one very very cool playground for the kiddies.
You can find The Oamaru Textile Emporium at 13 Tyne Street, Oamaru.
Milton: From Oamaru we headed further south down through Dunedin and inland to the town of Milton, where our next stop was the Bruce Woollen Mill. New Zealand's woollen mill history shares a parallel with Australia's. In the 1960s, there were 18 woollen mills operating country-wide producing yarn, carpet and textiles. The same time period that spelt the death knoll for Australian mills was similarly disastrous for New Zealand. Bruce Woollen Mills is one of the few yarn mills left in New Zealand. At its peak it employed over 500 people, now much of its original mill space is either empty or rented out to other businesses.
I have to say I had high expectations for this place. I was envisaging something similar to the Bendigo Woollen Mills and their infamous backroom. Not so. This is a small and rather quaint mill shop with a variety of knitting and weaving yarns, but I suspect increasingly more of their floor space is slowly being given over to woollen clothing. This is definitely the place to pick up a good New Zealand manufactured woollen jumper or a pair of possum socks.
Yarn wise, there was a good deal of commercially spun Perendale yarn, an interesting selection of variegated yarns that looked to be hand-dyed, and probably the cheapest possum blend to be found in New Zealand. There is a dusty wee museum room next to the shop that houses some relics of the wool industry, and while it is certainly an interesting look back into the golden past, there is a sadness for me that pervades places such as these.
You can find the Bruce Woollen Mill at 1 Edward Street, Milton.
Te Anau is one of my favourite places in New Zealand. I spent a fabulous New Years Eve there about 12 years ago when we took an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound and I remember being amazed at the sight of snow of the distant mountains.
Te Anau is a very different place in the Winter time. When we visited in the Summer the road into Milton Sound had been closed the week before because of heavy snow. History repeated itself this time around again and the road was closed due to avalanche. Instead we took a cruise on Lake Te Anau to the South Fjord with Cruise Te Anau. We were the only ones on the boat so it made it even more amazing and personal and probably suited our family much better than the hour and a half bus trip down into Milton Sound and out again.
I didn't expect to find a yarn store in Te Anau, I'm not sure why - maybe because of its tourist focus, but I did. In fact, I found what I suspect may have been my favourite LYS on the South Island. What greeted me in Fiordland House was beautiful walls of colour and an awesome range of New Zealand yarn, possibly the best I found. The service was also exceedingly friendly which no doubt enhanced the charm of the place.
This was my first contact with Zealana yarn, a yarn I've heard so much about but had never actually seen in person. Yes, you can get this yarn in Australia but I wanted to experience it in its natural environment. Experiencing brush tail possums in New Zealand, where they are considered a pest, is significantly different than how I'd view a brush tail possum in Australia, their native homeland. They're flipping cute here you know; until they get into your vegie patch or roof that is! There's a whole different environmental consideration of the effect of this animal in these two vastly different landscapes. You know, I'd always felt a bit guilty about the possum thing in New Zealand until I discovered that it was New Zealanders themselves who imported them. That's up there with Australia's stupidity for importing rabbits, foxes and cane toads! Sorry Kiwis, but it is. Let's not even get started on the stoats thing, hey.
dThere are so many different brands of yarn to be found at Fiorland House; Zealana, Touch Yarns, Naturally, Rare Earth and Rare Essentials, Crucci and Stansborough (the yarn used to create the costumes in the Lord of the Rings films), just to name what I can remember.
Fiordland House resides at 3 Town Centre, Te Anau.
Queenstown is definitely the adventure and adrenalin capital of New Zealand. So much adventuring to be done there regardless what time of the year. I suspect it's also the tourist capital and you can't help but wonder when you're there, where do or the locals live? The streets seem to be lined with temporary accommodation and the whole town is set up to accommodate this transient tourist industry. Because of its role as a tourist destination, in Queenstown there are plenty of shops where you can find manufactured New Zealand knitwear. Knitting yarn, itself is a little harder to find. We did manage to find one shop, the Kiwi Wool Shop nestled in amongst the glitz in a sweet wee arcade.
This shop had a huge range of yarn; including all the expected New Zealand yarns from Naturally, Touch, Rare Yarns, Crucci and Zealana as well a selection of international yarns. Here you can also purchase handmade jumpers at a relatively reasonable price.
You can find the Kiwi Wool Shop at Beach Tree Arcade in Beach Street, Queenstown.
From Queenstown I convinced the family to take a short detour before heading up to the West Coast. My destination was Clyde. My reason for wanting to visit Clyde was Touch Yarns. When the world of internet knitting really opened up for me after having kiddies, Touch Yarns was one of my staple yarns, although at the time I did not know it by that name. Instead, it was the yarn base that a group of Aussie hand-dyers used and many of those of us in the cloth nappy community adored. The colours on this base were always so beautiful and saturated.
Touch Yarns certainly didn't let me down, the walls were so colourful and there was so much variety in lots of different yarn bases. These days Touch is just as well known for their possum blends as they are for their superwash merino, but the shop also sells a huge range of yarns from gossamer mohair lace weight to more chunky trial spins. While I was there, they had in stock some interesting hemp, cashmere, mohair, alpaca and silk blends, boucle spun yarn as well as some local breeds.
You can find Touch Yarns at 19 Sunderland Street, Clyde in a quaint little cottage.
Our jaunt up the west coast was wet, not a damp sort of drizzly rain, but an insanely heavy rain that persisted non-stop for a good couple of days. From before Fox Glacier to just outside of Nelson, it poured like I've never seen rain before. Compared to Australia, New Zealand is a really wet and watery place. Living on this big old dry continent; the size of the rivers and lakes there and the persistence of such heavy rain, was something fairly unknown to us. The rain was so heavy at times that as we drove up the west coast road where it intersected with the coastline, you could not even see the ocean. That weather is pretty typical for the west coast of the south island, even if it is pretty annoying for visitors.
Stopping in Hokitika for a lunch break and for the kids to explore some of the Jade (pounamu) shops, we braved the downpour and ventured out of our motorhome sanctuary. This was a luck stop as I stumbled upon Sock World.
Sock World is home to a mini museum of sock machines from all over the world. You can even buy yourself a one if you've got a spare couple of grand. Along with this mini museum there were plenty of woollen socks, both traditionally manufactured in wool and possum, as well as some machine knitted socks in lots of different variegated yarns.
The service at Sock World was not exactly what you would call friendly. I tried to ask the lady a couple of questions about the sock machines, but all I got was short sharp answers and she seemed more interested in her dog than the customers who had deigned to brave the incessant rain and enter her shop. I suspect she would have preferred to have been at home in front of her fire, and probably thought we were just there to shelter from the rain rather than serious customers. I suspect if I lived the constancy of that winter rain I'd become grumpy too.
Nevertheless, amongst the usual suspects of New Zealand yarn brands there were quite a few rare and cheap finds to be had here, as well as lots of hand-dyed sock yarns. I came across some yarn made by Pebblemill Yarns in Christchurch, as well as lots of unlabelled possum and felted merino yarns.
You can find Sock World at 27 Sewell Place, Hokitika.
Driving north through more of the rain, I also stumbled across a yarn store in Greymouth. Here the walls of yarn were also bright and cheery, and despite it being just on closing time, so was the service. The lovely lady there gave Lily some ideas on how to knit some fingerless mitts, and I tried not to gasp audibly when she explained a seamed approach.
Pins and Needles have quite an extensive range of both New Zealand and international yarns, as well as lots of other crafting gadgets and necessities.
You can find Pins and Needles at 70 Mackay Street, Greymouth.
Our last yarnie stop in the south island was in Nelson, a beautiful city with arguably the best climate on the south island. Here we stopped at Cruella's Natural Fibre Boutique, which is a truly gorgeous yarn shop with walls and walls of stunning colour. It took me a little time to realise that one of the walls of yarn actually had shelves of finished knitwear garments nestled adjunct to shelves of the yarn they were knit in. I quite liked this touch.
There was lots of New Zealand yarn to be found here. Cruellas probably had the best range of Rare Yarn Company and Zealana yarns on the south island, as well as a good range of Touch Yarns and Crucci.
You can find Cruellas at 155 Hardy Street, Nelson.
By the time we'd reached Nelson, my family had definitely had enough of yarn stores, this is despite each of the kiddies collecting their own little stash of wool along the way. Next stop, however, was Knit August Nights in Napier, where there was more yarnie delights to be had than we could have ever imagined!
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Textile artist, knitwear designer and teacher.
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