From This…


To this…


Just Like That!!! through the magic of pointy sticks and string…

My first professionally published pattern, in Knit Now #16.

The Apocalypse, Vogue Knitting Competition, and the impossibility of matching variegated colourways…

We made our target! In five days, no less. I sank to the depths of tweeting Nathan Fillion cos he’s in the promo video… Don’t know if it helped, but 16 new backers contributed over $800 afterwards. Cooperative Press did some promoting yesterday too, so I can’t really claim any credit.

I’m thinking of entering this Vogue competition. The garment thereby inspired is probably going to be my most expensive EVAR. And is kind of bizarre. But bizarre is very Vogue, so I think it’s worth a pop.

A lot of my designs are a bit bizarre and niche-y. NB you can’t see these yet, they’re all in prep or in the slushpile awaiting a publication opportunity. I can see they probably appeal to a small market, e.g., maths geeks, or they use techniques that might be a little scary for the average knitter.

I could produce something more mainstream, I suppose, but I find it hard to think of anything! The few mainstream ideas I do get, I usually dismiss as being too ‘ordinary’, not standing out from all the other designs out there. My thinking goes thuswise: Why would someone pick my bog-standard Aran jumper over the other 6,000 on Rav? Answer: make mine different – use plarn! see-through cables made of i-cord! I know – an Aran body! With pom-poms on the nipples! Yeah!

You see where this is going.

I blame Maggie Jackson. She warped my sense of what could be done with knitting, and I’ve been coming over all inappropriate since.

ION, my skein of Malabrigo Chunky in the Col China colourway arrived yesterday. It was the only skein of MC in the whole of the UK at the time – I know, I looked everywhere! On the Malabrigo w/s, it looks purple, green and brown, and reminds me of Cadbury’s chocolate*. The skein I’ve got, OTOH, is red and green, and looks more like Snow Bird or Melilla. This should not be construed as a criticism – I’d far rather have red/green than purple/green/brown – but it does make a point about your variegated colourways. Truly, you can never know what you’re getting. Even skeins in the same dyelot, in the same bag, can be utterly different.

Mmmm, soft…

Must go now. Malabrigo to pet!

* – Handy tip: in painting, or in wool, if you want to simulate the appearance of gold the metal, look at your lightish greens. They’ll generally work better than your yellows.

Time to increase the medication, methinks…

I have been in a stew of rage recently.

It started with the business of my trip to Belfast, and the chewing out I got for (supposedly) not telling anyone that I was going. Really – Imabee 46 next week, people. Been dressing myself and tying my own shoe laces for damn close to half a century! I’m really tired of having to squeeze my news into 10 words or less before I get interrupted, talked over, etc. Believe it or not, dear family, there are people  who shut up when I walk into a room and take notes when I speak, and who would never dream of monologuing on Great Sandwiches I Have Known over my learned and witty discourse(s). No sir!

But the fury is leaking out everywhere. I have insulted entire continents online, and yesterday I very nearly rammed a car IRL. Well, what the feck were they doing parking across the petrol station slip road?!?! Two of us trying to leave, one trying to enter, and another already in but unable to park because YOU, you dribbling moron, decide to GET IN THE BLOODY WAY.

Currently what is wearing my molars is test knitting. A few months ago, I decided to have a practice run at having a design test-knit using a pattern I’d already published. It’s a pretty popular free pattern, lots of downloads, in a lot of queues, but no one’s got round to making it yet.  I thought it would be a good learning process to ease me in. No biggie, right? Well, it’s been a fecking nightmare. First I had to fill in a form that made my PhD look like a toddler’s wall scribblings. I, the trained researcher, nearly lost the will to live doing the research for this form, trawling through the archives of helpful notes and guidance. Not that I’d mind if I’d got my testers, but only one person responded. Then I started getting messages about the progress of the test. They were standard-letter style messages, but felt rather brusque, nitpicky, officious and unhelpful.

I tried getting testers in a less stressful environment. But all I got was a rather unhelpful reply saying my pattern wasn’t what I said it was… I don’t think I’ve ever felt such bile towards someone I don’t even know. Seriously, if I could have reached down the internet and broken every one of his/her fingers, I would have. I’m still livid.


And I had to walk away from the computer just there, as I was in danger of Hulking out and this is my last pair of clean trousers. So I went and deep-cleaned the dishwasher, on the same principle that my dear old silver-haired granny told me to eat a teaspoonful of dogshit each morning*. And isn’t it good that I did**? because I know exactly h to handle it now***. Lady-like, self-aggrandising, with big words.

I am also feeling rather better about the seething ire. Because it does bother me – I think of myself as pretty chilled. I gots a rep to maintain, yo. It’s good because I’ve been feeling like crap for so long that getting mad was too much effort. It was easier just to get more miserable and defeated. Now, knocking heads together sounds like a fun plan, and plans are always better than vegging.

ION, I have begun taking the dog up the forest in the mornings, after dropping the Mighty Offspring to the bus. The exercise half kills me – I’m still stiff from this morning – but I shall continue undaunted, although the foraging is rubbish this year. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, my arse – not one of the brambles will be ready before the frost hits, the wild strawbs never got round to fruiting, and there’s no sign of the mushrooms that were carpeting the place this time last year. The currants got blown off the stems back in July, and even the sloes aren’t putting in an appearance. My cherry crabapple has ONE apple on it, and the plums, cherry and pear didn’t even bloom. I have a few tiny, miserable apples and maybe a handful of raspberries to show for the season, and my heritage potatoes still aren’t ready – and they were first earlies!


* – i.e., that nothing worse could happen to you that day.

** – walk away. Not eat the dogshit.

*** – again, not the dogshit. The unhelpful replier.


Now I know what people mean when they say they’re sick with excitement!

So many things happening. The Mystery Project kickstarter is being edited. I’m getting free yarn. I’m trying to put a portfolio together, and learn Arts-speak. Also, off to Belfast !! St George’s Market Lighthouse Yarns stall, here I come!

And just for a gas, willya listen to Michael D makin’ poundies of the Yanks. That man can chunder better than me Ma! Truly worthy of  this appropriate little knit


A few designs ago, I needed a stitch pattern that doesn’t curl. Those would be garter stitch, moss stitch, and ribbing. Unfortunately, none of these was going to cut the mustard for this particular pattern: it had to be something relatively smooth, non-curly, and firm.

I went on a bit of a quest and finally came across linen stitch, which worked beautifully for the purpose. In another design, I found that a cabled cast-on does a decent job of stopping a stocking-stitch hem curling, as long as the cast-on is a reasonably close fit. 

This has made me wonder what other patterns might lie flat. There must be more – it’s just balancing the knits and purls. Garter, moss and rib have their place, but they also interrupt the flow of a garment. Rib pinches in the drape, moss looks like mini pompoms, and garter’s just nasty – chops off the vertical line, introduces a horizontal accordion banding. 

So I’ve been looking through some stitch dictionaries. There’s some possibilities, so I think I’ll just try knocking out some swatches. 

Watch this space!



Another one away…

On to the next!

What am I doing on here?

I’m supposed to be putting designs together!

So. Thorn Maiden. What’s that about then?

Many years ago, I watch a series of Irish language programmes on the BBC. The fact that most were filmed around Donegal was a big draw – it was fun to spot the different areas.

One episode stuck in my mind – The Thorn Maiden. It wasn’t the setting, but the story. I was aware that hawthorn trees had a special status in Ireland: an old superstition that they should never be cut down. Sometimes, they were called ‘fairy trees’. Supposedly, they were inhabited or protected by Irish fairies – the fay, sidhe, little folk, Tuatha De Danaan, lords and ladies, etc. and so forth. Irish fairies are not the twinkly, fluttering, bluebell-dwelling,  granters of wishes of Victorian England. They’re a troublesome bunch of savages, to be avoided or placated. Leave a bowl of milk on your doorstep, or your cows will go dry. Dress your sons as girls till they’re four, or risk them being stolen. Never travel past a crossroads or a fairy ring or a henge by night, or be driven mad or taken in the dance. Bargains struck with them will always go wrong – for you. Their favour is as damaging as their enmity. They’ll taken you for your beauty, or your talent, or just for the music of your screams.  A right shower, the lot of them. You have been warned.

Personally, I look for the practical reasons behind these old superstitions. Don’t walk under a ladder, not because it’s bad luck, but because the eejit on top of it will probably drop his hammer on your head. Black cats crossing your path are bad luck only if you trip over them, and thirteen is an unfortunate number of guests at a formal déjeuner.  Now, thorn trees have been used forever as boundary markers, hedging, and so on. Great stuff for keeping the sheep contained, and keeping the grockles orff yore laaaaarnd. Funnily enough, if someone were to take an axe to your thorn tree, well, there go the sheep, and all sorts of undesirables would be turning up on your doorstep. Bailiffs and landlords, for example, or that land-grabbing fecker down the road who can now claim that the boundary marker between your farms is that tree 200 yards closer to your house than the one that’s now warming his hearth…

Anyway. The Thorn Maiden. She’s seen only briefly in the programme, a pouty, willowy nymphette with a cloud of dark hair, in wispy robes entirely unsuited to the Irish weather, waving her arms ineffectually at the gasur chopping down the tree while whortling in a vaguely Enya-like manner. In the story, the wielder of the chopper is driven crazy by this apparition, and forced to make reparations before fleeing the country.

Umm, no. That skinny wee girleen wouldn’t scare the hens off their mash. Somehow, I’d expected to see someone like Bang, my old boarding school matron: a dour, curmudgeonly spinster in stout sensible shoes, carrying a lump of gnarly wood vainly passing itself off as a walking stick. To see Bang bearing down on you with purpose in those dragon eyes was to know true fear*.

That’s my Thorn Maiden – more thran than thorn. Now, get off my laaarrnd!

* Actually, she was a lovely woman. Just scary as all get out.

New Pattern!

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Because You Can Never Have Too Much PI – pi fez!

Okay, it’s a beanie – unless you felt it into shape. And add a tassel. The numbers down the sides list π to 50 decimal places. To  be specific, it starts: Π ≈ 3.14… i.e., π approximates to 3.14, etc. Cos that’s how I roll.

Fun Facts About Π:

  1. 50dp is overkill. Only 39 decimal places of Π are required to calculate anything to redundant levels of precision – for example, you could navigate across the known universe and be no more than one atom’s width from your intended destination at the end. More than my satnav can manage…
  2. The Guinness World Record for memorising Π is held by Lu Chao – 67,890 digits. Some people really have nothing better to do.
  3. Π is known to 10 trillion dp – calculated by Shigero Kondo in October 2011, using an ordinary home computer. Mr Kondo was unavailable to comment at his parents’ basement, as he was waiting for a pizza delivery.


I’ve been thinking about my ‘voice’. That’s designing voice, what with me doing a bit of designing these days and all. Apparently it’s really important to find your design voice.

Frankly, I don’t think I’ve done enough to have a voice – 4 designs published, and maybe as many again in the creative pipeline. What do they have in common?

  • 3 knit, 1 crochet.
  • 3 free, 1 pay-for.
  • 4 non-brand-name yarns. I do like my yarn, but the muse comes upon me when I only have DK acrylic.
  • 2 child/baby, 1 any age, 1… erm?!
  • 3 fairly quick/small items, one small but tricky.
  • Only 1 pair of gloves and, so far, no hats, even though these are the things I make most often.
  • 2 accessories, 1 garment.
  • 2 with some colourwork, but bizarrely no cables, even though I love ’em.
  • 4 rather odd things. Okay, 1 joke item, 3 moderately quirky.

The planned designs include (1) babywear, (2) accessories, and (3) adult garments. (1) may include some colourwork, and challenging construction. (2) will also include some colourwork, and some lace, but otherwise quite straightforward. (3) will almost definitely be brand-name yarn, and perhaps some challenging construction. Many in categories (1) and (3) may strike some (~cough!~ boring) people as freaky, weird, or mentally unbalanced, and at least one from category (2) as mildly eccentric. But what do I know, I’m on the moon picking whootleberries.

Strange colourwork in bargain bin mystery yarn.

My voice is cracked.

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