Grown: Sophisticated Sweater Designs

10 sweater designs from a trusted knitwear designer? Yes. Let's get into THAT because it's cold and my knit fever is strong right now. 

Grown by Kate Oates

I've known knit designer Kate Oates of Tot Toppers for a few years now. I've read her blog and smiled at each new design as it released. I like her tendency to design things that don't need much finishing. Some would say that I'm a lazy knitter but I just like to say energy efficient and if it looks good, I'm ok with keeping it fuss free. In my mind Kate has always been a childrenswear designer but all that changed recently when she wrote an email, inviting me to be a part of the Grown blog tour. 

Grown is a collection of 10 raglan-style sweater designs with very little finishing and sewing. Each design was inspired by an original Tot Toppers pattern which means you could knit something for your entire family if you wished. The designs have been thoughtfully 'matured' so that they are flattering for adult figures and include options for customising. The collection is beautifully shot on a range of models so you get a different flavour with each design. I like this method actually as it means I don't get stuck on a collection only working for one particular person. It helps me to visualise how it might work for my knitting needs. 

My top pick from the collection is the Scholar Cardigan. I have a thing for these deeply collared, ribbed sweaters for men, children and women alike. This just ticks all the right boxes for me. I'm not going to lie, I want a slightly unisex version with elbow patches. Those elbow patches should be leather if you're wondering. 

Scholar Cardigan by Kate Oates of Tot Toppers
Scholar Cardigan by Kate Oates of Tot Toppers

Is it ok to say I'm completely in support of how preppy this pair are? I have a sudden urge to swap out my usual boxy style and get college cute all over again. If I wasn't in too big a rush to do that though, I'd probably play it safe with a sweater that I think was designed just for me, the Sidewalk Sweater. 

Sidewalk Sweater by Kate Oates

This is a great collection with plenty of options for different body types and if you're a hand dyed yarn fan, this will help you scratch that itch in terms of yarn suggestions. Here's all the important links if you want to check out more:

With thanks to Kate for kindly sending me an ecopy of her new collection for review purposes. Opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. 

Blog Tour: Crafting with Mason Jars

Jars are big currency in my house so when my friend Hester from Hester's Handmade Home announced her latest crafting book would focus on crafting with mason jars and other glass containers, my ears pricked. Hester is something of an upcycling genius and offers tutorials on her vlog that forever have me itching to get making. 

Crafting with Mason Jars blog tour, A Playful Day

Crafting with Mason Jars blog tour, A Playful Day

When I moved house recently I caused great amusement that I shifted an entire box full of jars and bottles. They're all now in full rotation as small vases for fresh flowers, storage solutions and vessels for preserving. What I love about Hester's book is that any new glass entering my home will now have even more possibility as something fun and useful around the house. It speaks to the maker in me that wants my home to be as environmentally friendly as possible. It's a big part of my pledge for The Maker's Year so I'm considering Hester's book a bit of an essential for 2016. 

Crafting with Mason Jars blog tour, A Playful Day

Crafting with Mason Jars blog tour, A Playful Day

Keeping the fact that I was moving again in 3 months firmly in focus, I flipped through the book, trying hard to resist the urge to make bird feeders, hanging lights and planters. Naturally I've earmarked a few for later when I won't have to dismantle them again. I wasn't disheartened by this limitation thought and soon started listing all the quick ways I could use new glass containers. For me, this is the joy of Hester's book: a project for everyone. 

In total Hester offers 35 projects ideas ranging from simple gift ideas to items for the garden or your home. A quick flip through confirmed there's not a huge amount of additional items that you'd need to invest in to make the majority of these projects. Upcycling for Hester is all about what's readily available so it doesn't become an arduous task but rather a project to make at the weekend that is quick with satisfying results. 

So what did I do to celebrate Hester's new book.....? 

Crafting with Mason Jars, Blood Orange Cocktail project

Crafting with Mason Jars, Blood Orange Cocktail project

I made a cocktail of course!

I have some fabulously shaped jars that I've kept with the express purpose of Summer cocktails in the garden. If I'm getting my own garden for the first time in months, I plan to celebrate! Hester includes a number of quick party and picnic ideas and her cocktail recipe just had to be tested out in time for my birthday this weekend. 

It mean, I should practice before Summer, right? 

Hester's version is Pineapple Vodka but, inspired by her suggestion to play around with the recipe, I decided to work with something more seasonal and reached for the Blood Oranges nestled in the bowl on my kitchen table. (I'll be sharing the recipe I used and links in next week's podcast which is basically a love letter to Blood Orange). I love the idea of cocktails with brunch this weekend, served in mismatched jars full of pink delicious vodka. 

Thanks for the inspiration Hester! If you're looking to pin this post for later reference, feel free to grab the image below: 

Crafting with Mason Jars By Hester Van Overbeek

Crafting with Mason Jars By Hester Van Overbeek

With thanks to Hester's publishers, Cico Books, for kindly providing a copy of 'Crafting with Mason Jars' and a mason jar to play with. This blog post has been created for the Crafting with Mason Jars blog tour. Opinions expressed here are my own. 

Useful links:

Blog Tour: Short Row Knits

I had a feeling Carol Feller knew how much I needed her latest book, Short Row Knits, when she sent me the blog tour invitation a few months ago. When I opened the book and saw the first line, that pretty much confirmed it....

"Have you ever avoided a pattern when you saw that it included short rows?"
Short Row Knits by Carol Feller

Short Row Knits by Carol Feller

Carol Feller has been demystifying short rows for knitters for some time. Her Craftsy class 'Essential Short Row Techniques' (affiliate link) is incredibly useful so I was delighted when I heard the news that she would be releasing a book exploring the technique. Released by Potter Craft this month, Short Row Knits joins the 'essential knit books' collection on my shelves. 

Riyito  by Carol Feller

Riyito by Carol Feller

Inside the book, you will find 20 patterns, each featuring different short row techniques. For me though, the most impressive part of the book is the in depth focus Carol gives to different ways in which to work a short row.  First, Carol starts by working a flat example and explaining what is happening when you create a direction change or wedge with a short row. There are four different types used and Carol works this in the simplest way with good image and illustration support so you can fully understand each technique. 

Short Row Knits techniques in focus

Short Row Knits techniques in focus

Equipped with this understanding, you can then move on to variations such as working in the round or in a specific stitch pattern. These particular portions are between patterns so you could work from cover to cover should you wish to take a learning journey or pick and choose to suit your knitting needs. 

Short Row Knits Garment Section

Short Row Knits Garment Section

The really great part is the sections Carol gives on using short rows in garments to support construction and fit as well as an section teaching you how to apply all this knowledge. The information here is so useful that you could go on to design and create your own pieces or heavily modify the patterns Carol provides. 

This is a superb example of a knit designer who has developed a very sound understanding of a technique and using it to create a collection of beautiful knitwear. I've always loved Carol's pattern writing- thoughtful, intelligent and educational. 

Pin me for later- Short Row Knits Blog Tour via A Playful Day

Pin me for later- Short Row Knits Blog Tour via A Playful Day

To pick up your copy, ask at your local yarn store or check Carol's website for more information. With thanks to Potter Craft for sending this book for review. Views expressed here are entirely my own. 


Blog Tour: Knit, Play, Colour

'Knit, Play, Colour' is a knitwear collection that encourages knitters to work beyond a pattern, offering tips and ideas for how to truly personalise your knitting projects. As someone who has always been partial to an adventure, I really like the spirit of Louise (of Inspiration Knits) new book.

(c) Jesse Wild

(c) Jesse Wild

This is a collection that works well for those wishing to develop their skills beyond the basics with a good mix of techniques such as beading, slipped stitches and cabling. You will find plenty of support for learning each technique as Louise teases them out when she shares how to 'play' with each pattern. 

With shawls, cowls, scarves and a blanket, there's a wide range of yardages and skills to make experimenting as big a challenge as you wish. Between that and Louise's fondness for mixing colours, this would be a good excuse to dig through stash. Louise has thoughtfully worked out the yardages you would need to vary the weight used too so there's plenty of options on the materials you could choose from. 

Colour Trail, Inspiration Knits (c) Jesse Wild

Colour Trail, Inspiration Knits (c) Jesse Wild

Rather predictably, two crescent shape shawls have caught my eye: Trailblazer (below) and Colour Trail (above). I like the texture of both and think they'd work well with special hand dyed skeins lurking in stash waiting for just the right pattern to liberate them. I'm particularly taken with the way Trailblazer works with a more variegated yarn, something I'm not usually comfortable with at all. 

Trailblazer, Inspiration Knits (c) Jesse Wild

Trailblazer, Inspiration Knits (c) Jesse Wild

Image support and plenty of clarity around which options you could try make this a book a little like sitting with Louise herself. She's chatty but informative as she explains some of the choices she might make. First she introduces you to the basic pattern, sample and schematic and then each is followed up with ways to make your own modifications and plenty of photographs to demonstrate her point. 

Louise might almost tempt me away from my neutrals and safer colour options. Almost.

The book is now available via Louise's site or via digital downloads on Ravelry. If you want to find out a little more about Knit Play Colour, you can join us for the rest of the blog tour (you can see all the fab stops here). Next up is Miss Babs, one of the beautiful yarn dyers featured in this collection. 

If you would like to win a signed copy of the collection, please leave a comment below telling me which pattern you would choose. I will select a winner at random on Friday 9th October 2015. Good luck!

 

The Scrumptious Collection: Volume 3 Blog and Podcast Tour

Hello and welcome to my post for the Scrumptious Collection Volume 3 launch! I've had the pleasure of being involved in the build up to this release and have really enjoyed the posts so far. You can see a full list of them here so go look as there's some real goodies!

The Collection is part of the Scrumptious Collection series that supports the Fyberspates Silk and Merino yarn range 'Scrumptious'. It's a popular series and I featured the first volume on the podcast some time ago. You can even hear the interview here for the podcast that I did with Jeni, the Director (and all around lovely lady) of Fyberspates. What I liked about this particular collection was how 'British' it feels: 13 exclusive designs from 8 British designers, all shot on location in the coastal region of Lyme Regis, UK. 

The collection includes 5 garment (3 sweaters, 2 cardigans) and 8 accessory patterns. There's some chunky knits, some lace, some new to me techniques such as Fair Isle and some interesting sweater designs. It's got options for digital as well as hard copy which I always like to see. 

Simene Stole, (c) Jesse Wild

So what am I going to focus on for this blog post? The yarn obviously. There's a pattern that I'd personally like to play with and I've been pondering yarn options for ever since I saw the proofs.The Simene Stole is a geometric lace stole that is knit up in a stunning yellow for the book sample. I've actually just finished a hat in the same colourway, using a different base and I'll be talking about how happy it makes me in this weekend's podcast. Designed by Melanie Edgar, this stole calls for Scrumptious Lace base which I love for it's sheen and definition. I also think the Fyberspates Gleem base would be beautiful as it's just that little more crisper in definition due to the BFL content although still with the high shine Silk content. Mind you, Ethereal, the cashmere blend would be an amazing laceweight both to work with and to wear. This stole would just be so snuggly. It seems patterns are very enabling and I can spend hours considering yarn options!

Ethereal Laceweight in 'Tumeric'

I've also just finished working with another yarn that I am itching to try again. Fyberspates Twizzle Silk is a gorgeous Silk: Merino single that would be a stunning heavier option for this stole. It would certainly be less crisp in definition but wow would it be luxurious to wrap around your shoulders on a cool evening. I worked up a shawl recently and the garter stitch in the soft stitches it created just made my heart sing. 

Knit Night in Twizzle Silk

I think this is what I enjoy so much about Fyberspates as a company and why I love working with Jeni. The yarns are constantly evolving and so with each collection you feel you have a range of options to indulge on the patterns. I'm currently craving lace and this could be just the fix I need. If only I could choose a yarn....

You can grab your copy of The Scrumptious Collection Volume 3 either on Ravelry or directly from Fyberspates for £12. There's also a list of wholesalers so do check it out to see if you're LYS is stocking it.