Knitsonik stranded colourwork project

I heard about the Knitsonik book ages ago, but I was a bit wary of it. I’d never really understood Felicity Ford’s connection between knitting and sound, and I wasn’t at all sure I needed a book of stranded colourwork patterns based on bricks or leaves or whatever. But now that it’s out and after I’d read a couple of reviews of it, I realised that this wasn’t quite the book I’d imagined. So I ordered it, and I’m so glad I did!

It’s a bit shorter than I’d imagined, but the pages are beautifully printed and the images are amazing. The book it most reminds me of is Kaffe Fassett’s Glorious Inspiration, which is full of beautiful pictures of all kinds of things and shows how he translates images into needlepoint. I love that book so much. And I think the Knitsonik book will become equally beloved. It’s mostly about colour and pattern which are two of my favourite things in the world. Also it’s about colouring in graph paper, which is excellent. And, yes, it’s about knitting.

There are knitting patterns (two) and colourwork charts (not sure how many), but they are not the point of the book. This is not a book for following instructions to end up with a particular garment. This is a book helping you work through a design process in a really fun way. So I thought I would attempt to follow her process and document my results here on the blog. The first step is to find your inspiration.

Ford is very keen on finding inspiration in your own location and its history. That’s fine, but actually the method works wherever you like to take inspiration, and I could have done with slightly less pontificating on finding links with the people who used to live and work where you do now, and such like. YMMV.

Anyway, in the spirit of the book, I’ve taken inspiration from my house.


My house has beautiful walls which are excellent for insulation and rubbish for keeping mice out. I cleared away vast quantities of a sprawling clematis a couple of weeks ago and discovered that underneath it, some of my geraniums (yes, I know, pelargoniums) are still flowering.

I love the vivid pinks and greens of the geraniums, the dark compost and the bright white of the belfast sinks. I love the multiple shades of sandstone and mortar and moss on the wall behind. I love the irregular shapes of the stones, forced to tesselate with each other in order to make a stable wall. Almost literally a stable wall, though this building was originally for sheep, not horses.

The next part of the process is to make a simple drawing of the inspiration and add some more photos. And then the really fun part starts – picking your palette. Not having access to the entire Jamieson and Smith range, nor even a shade card, I am going to have to improvise here, but I think I have some ideas for how to make it work.

Yarny Yarn Yarndale!

I have just got back from a very mini mini-break. This involved a lovely spa day yesterday (lovely except for the two women who insisted on having loud conversations in the Quiet Room with Serenity Pool. My irritation at their noisiness adversely affected my serenity.) And then I stayed at a B&B last night and treated myself to dinner at an Indian restaurant (yum, yum, yum). Breakfast this morning was possibly the worst cooked breakfast I have ever had. And my expectations had been so high that it really was a huge disappointment.

But I soon got over it because I was headed for Skipton and the main goal of the mini-break: Yarndale. It’s well over 2 years since I last went to a yarny, fibre-y, woolly show of this sort and I was particularly excited about this one. I don’t generally do well with things that involve thousands of people all in one place, but for a few hours, with strategic breaks to sit down and read a book, it was wonderful.

One ewe and one ram in a pen with straw
There were sheep.

Three alpacas
And alpacas. Also angora rabbits but my photo of them is dreadful. Use your imagination: three cute fluffy rabbits.

It’s £8 for a ticket. I do quite often resent paying high ticket prices for these kind of things, since it is basically a ticket to be allowed in to go shopping. However, at Yarndale, I did feel that the cost was worth it. They had gone to HUGE effort to make a livestock market feel like a fun, welcoming place to be. I loved the bunting, the yarn bikes, the signs outside.


crocheted bunting with Yarndale sewn on to itThere were at least four signs like this, all in different colours and styles. You couldn’t miss it if you tried!

yarndale4Outside the main entrance, the trees were all hung with bunting and balls of knitting/crochet.

Inside, there was bunting…yarndale5
And more bunting…

yarndale7Can you have too much bunting?

yarndale8Further in, there was this incredible display of round crochet shapes (I am not all that comfortable with the term mandala – seems appropriative to me). But they were stunning.

yarndale9All 1182 of them!

yarndale10These weren’t in the main display, just on one of the stands, but I liked them a lot.

yarndale11They seemed in keeping with the yarn bikes!

I didn’t do the wool walk, but they decorate the whole path up to the auction mart from the town with knitted and crocheted bits and pieces. I didn’t get to hear the brass band, but I love that they had one. There was also a nicely produced brochure with several little patterns for things and a couple of articles, as well as information about all the stalls. And, as far as I could tell, enough loos, which is the most important thing about any event with thousands of people. There were also plenty of seating areas dotted about the whole place, a couple of cafes (I took a packed lunch but what I saw other people eating looked nice and reasonably priced). I arrived early and parked very near the building so I don’t know if there were problems with parking later in the day.

In the Knit and Natter Lounge, Lucy from Attic24 held court, surrounded by lots and lots of her lovely crochet:

yarndale15A crocheted street!

yarndale14Crocheted wreath. Crocheted lampstand.

yarndale12More crochet! I love the bunting with sheep on it.

In general, I would say it was as well-organised an event as I’ve been to, and I really loved all the little touches which made it feel more than just a shopping arcade for people who like crafts. I did do some shopping, but even if I hadn’t, I think I would have been glad to go. Many of the stalls had beautiful displays too.  A couple of stallholders asked me not to take photos, so I didn’t. I won’t say who because I assume they don’t want the publicity. Seems an odd choice to me. I know, I know, they are worried about imitations and possibly even copyright infringement. But I really think it is a shortsighted decision. Anyway, here are some that I did take.

yarndale16This was from a local embroidery guild to celebrate the Tour de France in Yorkshire.

yarndale17Nest had a HUGE tree (this is only half of it) adorned with various knitted things.

yarndale18I loved these hooked cushions and samplers. Very tempted to make one for the forthcoming niece/nephew.

yarndale19Needlefelted teeny tiny animals!

yarndale20Absolutely stunning felted/embroidered art. This was £950. I did not buy it, but I did buy a little card with a small felted/embroidered piece on it by the same artist.

yarndale21Corn dollies! I enjoyed that there were several very traditional crafts on show in amongst all the modern yarn.

yarndale22Woolly wedding dress!!! I love it.

yarndale23Natural Dye Studio crocheted blankets are always amazing to look at.

yarndale24I think this star one might have been my favourite.



Campervans and… beard holder?yarndale27

Gorgeous crochet and adorable felted terrier.yarndale28

They weren’t actually selling the knitted knickers but I loved the display!


And one which didn’t quite work…

yarndale30It evoked in me the strongest desire to rescue all the poor knitted animals from the hangman’s noose, I’m afraid. Also, that is not a random black and white or sepia photo, they really were all knitted in colours of death.


And finally, my loot:



The most beautiful ceramic buttons. The little felt/embroidery card. 100g dyed Teesdale locks. 100g braid of BFL. 5x50g skeins of sockweight yarn in co-ordinating solids/semi-solids/variegated from Natural Dye Studio. That was my biggest splurge. I am going to try a modular crochet scarf in the style of the NDS patterns. yarndale32

And this is teeny tiny needlefelted Pingu. He is about an inch and a quarter tall. Say hello to Pingu (and don’t point out his wonky beak, he’s very self-conscious about it.)


So that was my mini-break. In general, I enjoyed it very much and I shall try to forget this morning’s terrible breakfast in all the glorious yarniness.

Late addition


I bought the fabric for this just before Christmas and I’ve been putting off sewing it ever since. It was quite expensive fabric and I also bought underlining and lining fabric, because it is very slippery silk and translucent between the roses.  Anyway, I’d decided that it was too late and then regretted that, so at about 10pm last night I chose a simpler pattern than I’d originally planned and got cutting.  Less than 24 hours later, I have a dress! It is rather fabulous. The fabric is so stunning and I’m afraid that my photography skills are never going to do it justice. It’s a black silk chiffon with the huge red and pink roses woven into it.  I underlined the tope part of the bodice with some silk organza and lined the body of the dress with silk habotai. The sleeves are left unlined. The dress is a simple A-line shift with a square neckline and very full sleeves gathered into the cuffs.

And now I really have to finish my knitting…

I have dresses!

Dress 1, cobbled together from a dress I made a few years ago:


I cut some length off the skirt changing it from calf length to just above the knee. I also changed it to have short box pleats, giving a smooth section for the belt to sit on, and added the belt loops for this (the belt is from the old dress, but I lost the loops when I cut off the length). I made a version of the top then decided I didn’t like the fabric I’d used, so I did it again in this gorgeous printed stretch velvet.  No pattern for any of this. I cut the first version of the bodice based on a stretch top that fits me  pretty well, then used that to make some adjustments for this version. I’d never done this sort of ruching at the bodice but I found a tutorial online and it really is as easy as the tutorial said. You just stitch a strip of elastic down while stretched out. Close up of the ruching and the piping round the neckline:


Dress 2, from a Monsoon dress bought on sale last summer for the purpose:

dress2I loved the fabric of the original dress, but the bodice was clearly not designed for anyone with breasts:

orchiddressSo, I cut the bodice off, hoiked the waistband up to empire line, which made the skirt the right length for me, then made a new bodice in midnight blue, to which I added some embellishments. I have a whole box of these bought about 10 years ago for a completely different project, but they are the perfect colours for this dress. dress2ii

Dress 3, and the only one (so far) made from scratch:dress1

This is the Strictly dress, modelled, (sort of) on one that Lisa Riley wore on the show. I love this more than I can say: pink, sparkly, feathery, glorious. The picture does not really do it justice – it will be at it’s best when I’m twirling round on a dance floor with lights reflecting. I can’t wait!  I used a Burda pattern for a wrap top, cut short so that the bodice ends just below the bust. I cut the skirt slightly on the bias in order to make the rows of feathers horizontal. It’s slightly A-line, and with the bias, it twirls beautifully. Skirt is lined, bodice is trimmed with pink/orange/gold ribbon. Close up to give a better idea of colour:


So, that’s where I’m at with a week to go! I have one more that I’d still like to make and maybe some daywear too. We’ll see. I really need to make a list of Things To Do Before I Leave and then I’ll have a better idea of how realistic that is.

Lifedrawing weeks 1-3

It’s been longer than 3 weeks, really but what with classes cancelled, halfterm and me missing a week, I’ve actually only just been to my third session. Anyway, I want to keep a record so I can look back and hopefully see what progress I have or haven’t been making.

Week 1, 1 hour
First attempt.

Week 1, 1 hour
Same pose as above, second attempt.

Week 2, 2 hours

Week 3, 20 minutes

Week 3, 90 minutes

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