Sunday, 30 April 2017

nature baby | wild babe knitwear

Just finished knitting this sweet set for baby boy 0-3 months knitted in Uist Wool Canach 4 ply

Now we have a new baby boy coming into the family my love of knitting baby clothes has been re-ignited and oh my the JOY of 4 ply wool, 2.75mm needles and suddenly, sweet little garments.

I started knitting baby clothes when my friends started having babies, back in the late Eighties. Pretty soon I knitted so many baby clothes I had enough to take a craft stall at the Kirribilli Saturday Market in Sydney, Australia in 1993 or so when I was working as a Copywriter for Ogilvy & Mather Sydney. 

I called my brand "Wild Babe" because it was all either wildish-looking {think Medieval-style / Tudor / punk / gothic / fairy etc sweaters for babies and toddlers, see example below} or knitted using natural fibres; wool, silk, cotton. 

Fast-forward 20-odd years, I'm amazed to be in the same groove. I'd forgotten how sublimely sweet a pair of baby mittens could be what with their comforting cords n'all. {Handy tip for mitten knitters: cords should be as long as the height of the baby, child or adult.}

Being in possession of a few skeins of gorgeous Uist Wool Scottish Merino 4-ply wool "Canach" I casted on some stitches and not long after, a darling little set of baby boy 0-3 months Tank Top, Bonnet, Mittens and Bootees with chin strap, pictured above. Ah! I used mother of pearl buttons wrong side up for a more natural look that matched the yarn.

Uist Wool Canach is a stunning yarn; textural and kind of luxuriously rustic, heavenly to knit with. It feels like wool and silk and has very generous yardage. With its neps and soft-feel it reminds me of the beautiful Japanese yarn, Noro Silk Garden. I knitted all of these garments using, I think, less than 120g.

Pure wool, or wool with silk or cotton - all of these and other natural fibres allow our skin to breathe so are wonderful for babies and toddlers. Wool is cool to wear when it's hot and keeps us warm when it's cold because of its natural insulating properties.

Pattern details:
Mittens: Patons Handknits Australia 'Lots for Tots in 4 ply Feathersoft' Book 961 (1991), p25
Tank Top / Vest: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino 2 Book 'Argyll Slipover', 2006
Bootees: Patons Handknits Australia 'Lots for Tots in 4 ply Feathersoft' Book 961, p23
Bonnet with chin strap: Patons Handknits Australia 'Lots for Tots in 4 ply Feathersoft' Book 961, p10

my 1993 'Wild Babe!' baby sweater

My own actual vintage knitting! Knitted in black and cream chenille yarn, all the rage back then, well with me anyways, complete with velvet ribbons! The wrist bands are knitted not crocheted. Obviously my own pattern because who would publish such a baby pattern?

free Inner Wild Winter Woollen Slippers knitting pattern

With baskets of skeins of all kinds of inspiring Uist Wool yarn and fantastic company, the workshop I led as part of Grimsay Week with Uist Wool was a very good time. One lady said it was the best Saturday morning she'd had for years. Sweet!

Very experienced knitters and eager newbies together made for a great sharing and caring experience. And we made some snuggly woollens for our feet.

I'd put together a Boot Socks / Slippers knitting pattern so that everyone could make something practical and lovely no matter their skill level using a pair of 5mm needles. They are slippers but I wear mine as boot socks on top of cotton socks with boots or wellies. 

This pattern allows for great scope of stitches and techniques so you can individualise to your heart's content or just knit the basic pattern and end up with gorgeous slippers / boot socks. 

To get your free Inner Wild Winter Woollen Slippers pattern, just click here to print or download the PDF.

designing sweaters and knitting patterns for Uist Wool, joy!

Capturing the texture of lovage stems in the Lovage Sweater, created for Uist Wool and knitted in Uist Wool Sian DK.
So thrilled by the mushroom gills-like texture while knitting the yoke I had to stop knitting, rush out, throw it on the grass and take a photo.

I've been in love with Uist Wool since the beautiful team there asked me to design a garment for an exhibition a few years ago.

So when I was asked to create a sweater design and pattern for this inventive and inspiring enterprise ideas flowed to me in abundance.

I decided on 3 garment designs using 3 different Uist Wool yarns and allowing for a good variety of needle sizes to appeal to a wide variety of artisan knitters {from 3.75 through to, I think, 15mm}. I called them the Lovage, the Seawrack and the Tarasgeir.

The Lovage Sweater, below, knitted in Uist Wool Sian DK knitted in rib with bell sleeves and picot cast-off neckline. I made it cropped style but you can easily knit extra rows and make it longer. Make sure you use good quality circular needles when knitting this pattern. I broke 3 circular bamboo needles knitting the yoke {the plastic came away from the bamboo due to stress from the weight of the fabric} so had to resort to my mother's ancient steel one which has bends to absorb such pressure}. 

I made some drawings and started knitting, working out what to do as I went to keep up the momentum of creative flow. Making clear technical notes of what I was doing to allow others to follow me was much more challenging than I'd imagined. It was kind of like driving a car with the hand brake going on and off.

The Seawrack Sweater, below, knitted in Uist Wool Hebridean wool, Calma DK in art nouveau style drop stitch with picot edging - much simpler to knit than it looks and a lot of fun on the needles, knits up super-fast. {You can see some of my test knitting pieces looking like a cormorant drying its wings hanging on the wall behind me in these shots.} I started out going down needle sizes to get the rhythmic decreasing lengths of tear drop shapes before realising I had only - and you have only - to wrap the yarn 5, 4, 3, 2 or just once round your needle to get this lovely effect.

I set myself high standards, {over-achiever tendencies} not least by wanting to create 3 patterns instead of one but because I knew Uist Wool deserved to have unique knitting patterns that reflected the wool creators own sense of creativity. 

The Tarasgeir Sweater, below, knitted in Uist Wool Hebridean wool, Calma DK has cropped / Empire hem, feature ribbed sleeves, and pretty lace knitting detail at the cuffs, below the elbow, at the neckline and on the hem. I really like the peek-a-boo lacework, making Uist Wool's gorgeous and soft Hebridean wool romantic and feminine.

These garments and the patterns came from my heart with a great deal of love attached to them. I hope that as people knit them they will feel the same kind of pleasure I enjoyed while creating them for Uist Wool. And that those wearing these unique Uist woollens will also feel loved, wrapped in Uist Wool hand knits. 

Find them here at Uist Wool:

Lovage Sweater Pattern and Wool
Seawrack Pattern and Wool
Tarasgeir Pattern and Wool

Thank you to Dana MacPhee of Uist Wool who amongst her other extraordinary skills is magnificently visionary, creative and supportive, Hazel Smith for her project management and Madeleine Ostling for her genius creative and technical knitting and knitwear skills.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

knitting freedom

Taking a skein of yarn, winding it into a ball, casting on stitches and just seeing what happens is one of my favourite activities. 

It's like having a lovely sentence, phrase or idea, writing it down and continuing to write allowing the characters free rein to do and say what they like until you have a story. 

This Inner Wild Tidal Cowl is my most recent free style knitting adventure.

playing with patchwork

Working with knitted patches, making patchwork cowls with leather thonging and deer antler tips and big buttons.

I made the knitted patchwork throw shown top in neutral shades back in 2012 and have been using up scraps of wool and sewing them together ever since. Knitting little squares and rectangles and at some point in the future sewing them together is very relaxing, slow - knitted patchwork is a wonderful long-term project.

I'm heading into 'ornate patchwork' territory using bigger stitches, sashiko techniques and feeling more adventurous with texture and colour.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Talking about Outlander

I was recently interviewed by What's On about reading from The Wild Folk at XpoNorth in Inverness. Naturally, being a Highland event, we had to talk Outlander:

You can see the full What's On interview here.

Check out "featured in ..." to see a few of the Inner Wild garments featured in Outlander including The Sassenach Capelet and Sassenach Sleeves, The Caledonia Shrug, The Celtic Mitts and The Basketmaker Gauntlets.