Ja'ali Stole

When I was seven, my parents moved my brother and I from Deepest, Darkest Cleveland, OH to New Delhi, India. My dad had a Fullbright scholarship, so we spent a year in a far off and very different land. More then thirty years later, I went back for the first time, with my own seven year old (plus her younger sister). In some ways it had changed completely, but in others, it was just as I remembered it: the light was the same, the sounds of the birds in the early morning, the cows wandering through the city streets, and monkeys sitting on fences, waiting for the opportunity to snatch what ever they could right out of your hands.

We went and saw all sorts of sights in the Golden Triangle, and it was an incredible source of inspiration for my designing. The first design that came out of that trip was the Delhi Beanie, with a border inspired by a series of tombs in Delhi. The second one is in Issue 35 of Knit Now - the Ja'ali Stole.

Photo credit Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing

This pattern grew directly out of my trip to India: one of the almost ubiquitous features of the numerous palaces and tombs that we visited were pierced stone structures called ja'ali. These were basically the Moghul version of window curtains, and served to let in light and air while making it very difficult for anyone outside to see inside.

This picture makes it pretty clear where the stitch pattern came from! I swatched in a number of different yarns, but finally settled on a mohair blend, in two colors to emphasis the eyelets and the solid hexagons.

The perfect finishing touch? A beaded fringe.

The finished stole is a lovely, lightweight wrap that is perfect for summer evenings, or days when you need a bit of extra warmth.

This issue of Knit Now is on sale starting today, Thursday, 29th May, in craft stores, newsagents and supermarkets across the UK. Outside the UK, you can get a paper copy from http://www.moremags.com/knitting/knit-now, or a digital edition from http://www.moremags.com/digital-editions/all-devices/knit-now. You can also get it digitally via Apple Newsstand. 

As a little celebration of the publication of this pattern, I'm going to give away the yarn and beads needed to knit the stole - that includes 5 balls of Wendy Air (70% mohair/30% nylon) in two colors, and approximately 75 faceted glass beads for the fringe. Please leave a comment on this post between now and midnight BST, on Sunday, 8th June, telling me which pattern is your favorite from Knit Now Issue 35*. I'll use a random number generator to pick one lucky winner. Good luck!

* Note: saying that this is your favorite pattern does not increase your chances of winning ;-).

Brighton Dome socks

There's a fabulous festival of all things wool happening this summer not too far from where I live - Unwind Brighton. As part of the run up to the event, the organizers are holding a design competition (vote here). Meet my design: the Brighton Dome socks

These socks started with a lovely skein of yarn from Kettle Yarn Co - her fabulous Twist sock yarn. 

I got this yarn in my goody bag from the Small Wool Gathering last autumn, and wasn't really sure what to do with it. When the contest came along I balled it up and started playing around with stitch patterns. There was one that really stood out as a clear winner. 

This stitch pattern is a basic chevron pattern that is broken up by two rows of reverse stockinette, creating gentle arches. I was casting about for a good name when Allison noticed that they looked a lot like the Brighton Dome, where a number of the events for Unwind are being held. Brighton Dome socks they are for ever more. 

If you'd like to vote on the eight shortlisted designs, you can find the entire line up on the Unwind Brighton blog linked above. I'm thrilled to be in such good company, as the rest of the designs are gorgeous!

Noordzee and a special Wonderwool Wales offer

I think most designers would agree that sometimes the hardest part of the process is finding the perfect name for our latest creative endeavor. That was certainly true of this month's pattern, until serendipity stepped in with the perfect solution.

I've been working on this lovely little shawlette for the past few weeks, using some absolutely divine yarn from Linda at Kettle Yarn Co (more on that later). It's just the perfect little tidbit to whet your knitting appetite: beads along the border, a bit of lace, some mindless stockinette with short rows to shape the body, and ta da! In very little time you've got a lovely scarf to throw over your shoulders on those slightly chilly spring and summer evenings (aka all of them in the UK). But as of Easter weekend I still didn't have a name. I was well and truly stuck.

On Easter Sunday, I took myself, my new shawl and my husband to the beach to get some photos.  But not just any beach - this was a beach in Holland, where we were visiting for the long weekend. While the girls built sandcastles and entertained thoughts of wading in the water, Himself snapped a bunch of pictures, and commented that the colors of the shawl and the colors on the beach were the perfect match. When I looked at the photos later, I knew I'd found the perfect name: Noordzee (otherwise known as the North Sea).

Noordzee is a fairly simple knit, but the beaded edging and changing short row intervals give it a bit of interest along the border and a somewhat unexpected shape. The short rows first draw the border up in a curve towards the shoulders, but then swing outwards and down, flaring into a shape that looks almost like wings. The piece can be worn as a shawlette (particularly if you block it somewhat aggressively to get the most coverage) or as a scarf for a bit of warmth around the throat.

The yarn for this piece is Kettle Yarn Co's glorious Westminster, a 50/50 blend of camel and silk. It is soft and beautiful to work with - I didn't find it at all splitty - and the silk gives Linda's incredible dyeing skills a lovely shine and luminosity. And here's where the special offer comes in...

If you are at Wonderwool Wales this weekend, I would encourage you to go visit Linda's booth and cuddle her yarns for yourself. If you are inclined to purchase any Westminster while you're there, she will give you a coupon good for 15% off the purchase price of Noordzee. I'd bet you could even find the perfect beads while you're there...

You can find the pattern page for Noordzee here, or click below to purchase it from Ravelry via Paypal. Happy knitting!

March pattern release: Echinoid hat

A few years ago we took a family trip to Paris, and spent one very rainy and wet afternoon in the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. In one exhibit, there was a mezzanine walkway lined with glass cabinets, and I was quite taken with the display of sea urchin shells of every size. My designer brain immediately decided that I needed a sea urchin hat, and thus, Echinoid was born.

This hat is worked in worsted weight yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for the sample), starting with my new Most Favoritest Cast On Ever™, the tubular cast on. The body of the hat is worked mostly in seed stitch, with five equally spaced columns of knit stitches that mimic the five-fold symmetry of the sea urchin shells.

Knitting, purling, increasing and decreasing, tubular cast on (pattern includes links to a video tutorial, but not extensive directions for the cast on)

Small (medium, large, extra large), to fit head circumference of up to 18 (20, 22, 24) in/45.5 (51, 56, 61) cm. Actual hat circumference is 16 (18, 20, 22) in/40.5 (45.5, 51, 56) cm.

Pattern requires approximately 95 (115, 135, 165) yds/87 (105, 123, 151) m worsted weight yarn.

US 5/3.75 mm and US 6/4.0 mm double pointed needles or 16 in/40 cm circular needle.

20 sts/24 rows per 4 in/10 cm in seed stitch on larger needles.

Pattern includes both written stitch pattern directions and charts.

Echinoid $5.00