Glasgow School of Yarn and a new pattern

The Yarn Cake in Glasgow is a year old this month and to celebrate they’ve organised “The Glasgow School of Yarn” — two days (this Friday and Saturday) of classes, demos, shopping and cake.

I can’t make it to Glasgow for the event itself but I do have an entry in their design competition. Run in conjunction with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh society, the brief was for any designs inspired by the life or works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. After my exam at the start of the month, it was a bit of a rush to get the pattern together and the sample finished, blocked and posted in time but it all came together in the end. (Remind me never to attempt to learn a new technique, design something using said technique and write up and publish the pattern in less than a month.)

You can see (and vote for!) the Hill House Scarf in person at the event or the pattern is now available on Ravelry.

Story of a design – Strawberry

This design popped into my head almost entirely fully formed when I saw Susanna IC’s Rose Lace Stole. Except that when I looked at the stole, I didn’t see rose petals, all I could see were strawberries. I tracked down the Estonian lace stitch used, called Waterlily, and it still looked like a strawberry to me, albeit an upside down one. With just a couple of tweaks (including changing from stocking stitch to garter), I had a shawl edging.


I decided to work the body of the shawl in garter stitch to help avoid the curling that comes with stocking stitch. I’m not usually a fan of garter stitch but I do love how it works in this shawl. It would be straightforward to knit a stocking stitch version, if wanted, just purl all the wrong side rows rather than knit.

The strawberry edging uses one of the manipulated stitches that are characteristic of Estonian lace. Three stitches are knitted together and then immediately increased to seven, which gives the beautiful curve to the top of the strawberry. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is but the pattern includes full instructions and, after you’ve done it once, it is straightforward.

Naming the shawl was also straightforward; it just had to be Strawberry!

Strawberry is now available from Yellow Ginger Designs and Ravelry.

Story of a design: Waterlilies

Waterlilies Shawl

This pattern has been a long time coming! I first posted about it more than a year ago, showing the original inspiration:

Japanese design - green

which became:

Japanese design - red

which (eventually) became:

Waterlilies Shawl

I love it when a plan comes together!

Originally, I had knitted the shawl without a border but after wearing it a couple of times, I decided that it really did need a border but couldn’t find an existing one that I liked. So, being me, I decided just to make up my own. That worked surprisingly well, so well in fact that I used the edging for my Celandine shawl as well.

Waterlilies Shawl

I knitted the second sample in Knit Picks Shadow Tonal Lace. It is far less luxurious than the Plymouth Yarn Baby alpaca that I used for the original but, having decided to name the shawl “Waterlilies”, I couldn’t resist the idea of knitting one in yarn which is explicitly designed to “give your knitting the appearance of watercolor”.

Waterlilies Shawl

I always find naming patterns difficult and even asked for help with this one. As chance would have it, it was a comment from Steven that made me think of the flower motifs as waterlilies floating on the undulating yarn-over “waves” (boy, that sounds pretentious!) and the name was fixed. Since Steven has absolutely no interest in a free copy of the pattern, I’ve sent a copy to Giselle whose suggestion was my favourite of those that I received.

Waterlilies is now available from Yellow Ginger Designs and Ravelry.

Story of a design – Celandine

Celandine Shawl

There is a Flower, the Lesser Celandine,
That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain;
And, at the first moment that the sun may shine,
Bright as the sun itself, ‘tis out again!—William Wordsworth, The Small Celandine.

I would love to be able to say that Wordsworth’s poem had inspired this shawl but, to be completely honest, I had never heard of the poem until I was on the point of publishing the shawl and needed to find a name for it! It’s pure coincidence that it suits the shawl so well.

The actual inspiration for the shawl is a bit more complicated. Some time ago, a yarn company put out a call for submissions on the theme of fairy tales. I was immediately inspired and came up with a sideways-knitted shawl with a lace edging involving toads. Further reflection led to the realisation that the market for toad-related knitting patterns, while I’m sure one exists, is probably quite small. The toad pattern was shelved but I did keep the extensive notes I had made when experimenting with sideways-knitted shawls.

Celandine Shawl

Soon after this, I decided that my Japanese-inspired shawl really needed a border and, since I couldn’t find an existing one that worked, I designed one from scratch. (I am still planning to release the pattern for this shawl; it’s just proving extremely difficult to write!)

Eventually, it occurred to me that the border could look quite pretty as an edging on a much plainer shawl and, after some swatching and some knitting, Celandine was the result.


I had originally planned to call the shawl “Buttercup” but, not very surprisingly, Buttercup is a remarkably common name for knitting patterns (including at least one other small yellow shawl). A Google search for “buttercup” led me to the Wikipedia entry for Ranunculus, which in turn led me to the entry for Lesser Celandine, and the name was set. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, Ranunculus is Latin for “little frog”, so I’ve ended up right back where I started—with amphibians!

Celandine is now available from Yellow Ginger Designs and Ravelry.

Story of a design – Oren

The initial idea for Oren came from childhood memories of walks in and around pine woods. Every summer, my sister and I spent two weeks of the school holidays with our grandmother in Fife. Every so often, in the evening, my gran would announce that we were “going to see the rabbits” and we would take a walk up to and through the nearby pine woods to watch the rabbits playing. We also used to collect pine cones on these walks, for no other reason than we liked to pick them up as we walked. Occasionally, we talked about using them for a craft project but we never seemed to get round to it; we just kept adding to the bag that my gran kept in a cupboard.

At some point, many years later, it occurred to me that a shawl that resembled pine branches with cones hanging from the ends could look quite pretty and Oren was the result.

Oren Shawl

The body is simple arrowhead lace with an easily memorised 4-row repeat. The border is a little more complicated, incorporating directional increases and decreases for a slightly scalloped effect.

Oren shawl

The name Oren comes from the Hebrew word for “pine”. I admit to having no idea how the Hebrew should be pronounced but I say “Aw-rren”.

Oren shawl

This shawl was supposed to be a present for my mother-in-law but since it wasn’t ready in time for either her birthday or Christmas, I think I might have to keep it for me!

Oren is now available from Yellow Ginger Designs and Ravelry.

Blowing my own trumpet – but just a little

I’m not very good at self-promotion. It’s been suggested to me in the past that Scots can be “a bit backwards about coming forwards” and, while I wouldn’t like to comment on the general application of the statement, it describes me to a tee.

However, the whole point of publishing things is to share them with other people and, in a previous post, I promised to share all my publishing news so here’s the full run-down of what I’ve been up to publishing-wise and a sneak preview of what is to come.

There’s been both self-publishing and non-self-publishing so let’s start with the stuff that other people have published.

In the other post, I talked about Theresa, which was actually the second pattern that I had published in The Fibertarian; the first was my Stylish Squares blanket in their Winter 2009 edition. This was my first ever published-by-someone-who-wasn’t-me pattern and both the submission process and the publication were more than a little nerve-wracking but so exciting that I was determined to do it again, which I promptly did in their Spring 2010 edition.


Those of you who clicked on the blanket link will have realised that it doesn’t take you to The Fibertarian site, it takes you to Yellow Ginger Designs instead. I decided that I wanted to keep a certain amount of distance between this blog (personal) and my publishing (public) and so I started Yellow Ginger Designs. The name comes from the beautiful yellow ginger plants that we saw in Hawaii. We later learned that they were actually an imported pest that the state is trying to eradicate completely but I still think they’re beautiful! (Unfortunately, the design of the site doesn’t currently live up to the beauty of its name but pretty-ing it up is definitely on my to-do list.)

Yellow Ginger

Yellow Ginger Designs will have all my self-published knitting patterns as well as sewing and other craft projects. At the moment, it’s mostly knitting patterns but I have some sewing projects and craft tutorials that just need some decent photographs before they can go up. Everything is free at the moment, but I do plan on adding a “for sale” section in future. Everything that is currently free will remain free and there will continue to be free content added.

I’ll continue to blog about craft stuff in general on this blog but any patterns or tutorials will be published over there. I will probably mention here when I’ve updated the other site but I can guarantee that, given my dislike of promotion, this blog won’t be turning into a constant stream of advertising!

Pattern – Theresa Lace Scarf

There was just enough light left when I got home from the office to take some bad web-cam pictures of some of my more recent projects so I thought I’d get caught up on updating my Ravelry projects and actually blogging about some of these.

Theresa Lace scarf

First up is my Theresa Lace Scarf pattern that is currently available in the Spring 2010 edition of The Fibertarian (more to come later on other publishing news).

I’m going to admit upfront that I love these scarves possibly more than I should so I apologise in advance if I end up sounding like I’m selling something; I’m not on commission, honest!

The first scarf started with a rough idea in my head as a way to use up some leftover laceweight yarn. I played with some stitches from the Encyclopedia of Needlework at Project Gutenberg and Theresa was the result (named after Thérèse de Dillmont, the original author of the Encyclopedia). The second one was when I realised I was addicted.

Theresa Lace scarf

The first one (in the orangey-brown colour) was knitted using Knit Picks Gloss Lace that I brought back from honeymoon and the second (in navy) is Knitwiches 100% Pure Cashmere Laceweight. These photos really don’t do them justice but there are some better ones at The Fibertarian or on Ravelry.

Theresa Lace scarf

The pattern itself takes a little bit of concentration at first due to the slipping, lifting and re-knitting of stitches but, once you get the rhythm of it, it is almost meditative. Due to the twisted nature of the pattern, it is very difficult to frog this scarf even with relatively smooth yarn; I can only imagine it would be completely impossible with something like Kidsilk Haze.

Theresa Lace scarf

They’re wonderful to wear; very light with just a little bit of extra warmth. They can also be squashed very small to fit into bags or a pocket when even that little bit of warmth is too much. Last, but not least, they are also (unusually for something I’ve knitted) highly fashionable at the moment!