Making New

Over the last few weeks (with the sudden surge in my designing mojo created by no day job!), I’ve been working on updating my older patterns and getting them into the current layout. Along the way I’ve realized that this necessitates knitting new samples, as the old ones are gone or stored in the UK somewhere (in other words: totally inaccessible).

First up on the table was my oldest self published pattern, Turkish Walrus.

Turkish Walrus.JPG

I designed these in 2008 (!!!), wrote up the pattern, published it as a freebie and didn’t really look at it again. When I went back to update it, I was a bit stunned at how far my pattern writing has come since then (thank you tech editing!) So I ordered some yarn (Cascade 220 Sport) to knit a new sample, worked through the pattern (correcting all the errors), and spent the last week rewriting the pattern and putting it in the proper layout so it looks nice.

New Turkish Walrus samples and handspun for long version hanging to dry

New Turkish Walrus samples and handspun for long version hanging to dry

While I was working on this, I got inspired to spin some yarn to knit another version - this one will be two colors only (one variegated handspun yarn, one commercial yarn) and longer with a ribbed cuff. Since these socks are worked toe-up, it’s an easy change to add one some length to the leg, but i’m also going to include spinning details and get the final pattern tech edited by someone other than me. So when that version is added, Turkish Walrus will switch from being a free pattern to a pay-for pattern.

All this will hopefully happen over the next month, so if you like the look of these and want to try them out before it goes behind a paywall, download now!

The shortest day of the year

It's a dreary grey day in London today, and there isn't going to be much of it. For today is the Winter Solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest amount of daylight all year (a mere 7 hours and 49 minutes).

To celebrate the depths of winter, and the gradual return of the sun, today is the kick off of a fantastic KAL hosted by The Fibre Company, featuring their glorious Tundra yarn and the patterns from the Nordlándda collection!

All images copyright 2016 Kate O'Sullivan for The Fibre Co.

The KAL is being hosted in the I Heart The Fibre Co. Ravelry group, and will run through the last day of winter, on March 20th. 

As a special deal, you can get three of the Nordlándda collection patterns for the price of two - just use the coupon code Northland17 when you check out to receive your discount. I'll be hanging around the KAL thread on Ravelry to answer any questions and cheer people on, and I'm excited to be joining in!

Copyright 2016 Kate O'Sullivan for The Fibre Co.

Copyright 2016 Kate O'Sullivan for The Fibre Co.

I'm going to knit Fauske in some handspun Bluefaced Leicester - the singles are done, but now I've got to ply and finish the yarn before I can cast on. Looking forward to having you all join in! 

Inishmeane

All photos (c) 2016 The Fibre Co. & Tommy Martin

All photos (c) 2016 The Fibre Co. & Tommy Martin

Early this past summer I got a ping from Carmen at A Yarn Story saying "Have you seen this new Fibre Company yarn Arranmore? It's luscious and glorious and I want a men's sweater design for it!" Before I knew what had hit me we were looking at a Pinterest board and discussing constructions and yarn colours and motifs. We debated henley style versus gansey, raglan versus set in sleeve...the possibilities were endless!

Most importantly, we wanted to come up with a men's sweater that would appeal both to men and the knitters who knit for them. The stereotype is that men want plain, boring, miles-of-stockinette navy or black or brown or dark green pullovers. That's it. But honestly, who among us wants to knit that? I can envision a scenario in which my brain was so fried that I would be good for nothing but plain stockinette in the round, but the prospect is just a bit too blah to be appealing for very long.

So we decide on a mostly stockinette sweater (to cover the standard insistence on "plain") which would highlight the tweedy rustic nature of the yarn, but with some interesting details to keep the knitter of said sweater from going nuts in a sea of blank canvas. A couple of serious cables for example, and a saddle shoulder construction. A tall collar and a henley neckline. A cozy sweater in a glorious Aran yarn that wraps around you like a big hug.

Then there was swatching and knitting (in the ludicrous heat that was Washington DC this past summer when we were there) and a frantic round of button choosing, and some pattern writing. And now, Carmen and I are thrilled to present Inishmeane, named for a small island off the coast of County Donegal.

A dog almost as cute as The Wee Ridiculous Dog that lives in my house

A dog almost as cute as The Wee Ridiculous Dog that lives in my house

Worked in seven sizes (finished chest measurement from 96.5-157.5 cm/38-62"), Inishmeane is worked in the round from the bottom up, starting with a turned hem. The body is worked in the round to the underarms, and then the front and back are worked flat. Sleeves are worked (also with a turned hem) with a mirrored cable panel on each, and then the cable continues across the shoulder, getting attached to the front and back as you work. Then the collar is worked flat, with the cables continuing on either side, and the front button bands are picked up and worked flat. 

I am super thrilled with how this sweater has come out, but it wouldn't have happened without the support of a lot of people: first off, Carmen, who asked me to come up with something for her, and was an absolute pleasure to work with from start to finish (let me know when the next one needs to come through, ok?), my lovely tech editor Deb for her eagle eyes (!), Daphne and Ian at The Fibre Company for yarn support and being generally all around some of the most lovely people it's been my pleasure to meet in this industry, and Tommy Martin who takes unbelievably phenomenal pictures of knitwear in the Lake District (as evidenced by these photos and the gorgeous shoot he did for Nordlándda last year).

The pattern is available now from Ravelry and from A Yarn Story directly, along with oodles and oodles of gorgeous Arranmore. I'm already contemplating what colour to pick for my, I mean Alex's Inishmeane! And you can read more about the process from Carmen's side of the story on her blog.

Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Skyesong and Fibre Club updates

Quantum Dots, which will be available at EYF on some super soft Falkland merino

Quantum Dots, which will be available at EYF on some super soft Falkland merino

Well. It seems like the last almost four weeks since Unravel have flown by in a blur of wool and dye and chaos. It seems that way because they have! I've been full on prepping for Edinburgh Yarn Festival, which opens for classes today and for vast and fantastic stash enhancement on Friday. I've sent off five (!) boxes of fluff, have crammed a pile more into my luggage, and will be on a train northward in just a few hours, just in time to set up.

However, a few other things have happened in the last few weeks that I'd like to highlight. First off, slots are now open for Q2 of the 2016 Lab Goddess Fibre Club. The club runs £45 plus actual shipping cost (depending on location), and will include three monthly shipments of an exclusive colourway inspired by a woman scientist, either past or current. Check out the Fibre Club page to see past colourways and to book your space now.

Current fibre club members: parcels will ship out next week, and I hope you like this month's instalment!

Skyesong in Broadbean merino/flax

Skyesong in Broadbean merino/flax

Secondly - I have a new pattern out! Skyesong is a lace shawl designed for handspun, and I'm super thrilled that it's been published in the new issue of Knitty. The body of the shawl is worked in a garter lace pattern (knit on every row - woot!) until it is the desired size, and then the edge is finished with a border worked sideways and attached to the live stitches.

One important thing to mention: this is proper lace knitting, with things happening on both the right and wrong side rows. However, the body repeat is only four rows long, so it's not too difficult to get into a rhythm. The edging is more complicated and longer (20 rows), but the stitch count changes on every row, so it's pretty straightforward to figure out where you are in the repeat as you go on.

The pattern includes two sizes - the small version was knit up in fingering-weight yarn spun from some gorgeous wool/flax sliver that I got at Spunky Eclectic a couple of summers ago, in the Lobster colourway. The larger version was worked in my own 60% merino/40% flax top, dyed in the Broadbean colourway.

I'll have plenty of the merino/flax top at EYF this weekend, in both semisolid and variegated colourways, so if you're inspired for a little lacey shawl project, please stop by!

Getting ready for Unravel

It's that last minute press to finish off bits and pieces of prep before packing up on Thursday and heading to Unravel. There's been a lot of final dyeing and prepping and labelling of fibre around here. Want to see some of what's coming with me this weekend?

I'm also super excited to be able to offer kits for my newest hat design, Ironwork.

Handspun undyed Shetland, with Crystal Violet, Coomassie Blue and Xylene Cyanole for the contrast colours.

Handspun undyed Shetland, with Crystal Violet, Coomassie Blue and Xylene Cyanole for the contrast colours.

The pattern is written with handspun in mind, and includes tips on how to spin the yarn. It's also got a handy chart to determine the finished size of your hat based on your preferred gauge with your particular yarn and needles. The gauges included run from 4-7 sts/inch, so the pattern can work with anything from fingering to worsted weight.

Undyed natural brown Shetland, with Congo Red, Ethidium Bromide and Yellow Fluorescent Protein as the contrast colours

Undyed natural brown Shetland, with Congo Red, Ethidium Bromide and Yellow Fluorescent Protein as the contrast colours

The kits will include 3 oz of main colour and three 0.5 oz bundles of the contrast colours. I'll have the two sample versions kitted up ready to go, but if you want to swap out some of the colours on the day, that's no problem! Kits will also include a printed version of the pattern, with a download code for the electronic version.

I'll be in the Barley room, next to the Yarn in the City booth (which will have copies of the London Craft Guide and yarn for the projects!), and I do hope you'll come by and say hello! And if you're around on Friday afternoon, please come to my talk on "Dyeing Science" from 4:00 - 5:00, where I'll share a few of the stories behind some of my more science-inspired colourways.