Introducing Bombe and Baudot

Last week I launched my new pattern collection The Bletchley Collection and I promised I would follow up with posts about the inspiration behind the project and each of the pieces. Today it is the turn of the two knitted accessories.



The bombe machine was an electromechanical device designed by Alan Turing to find out the daily settings on the Enigma machine (that the Germans used to encode their messages.) The huge machine is made up of rows and rows of brightly coloured drums each of which emulated one of the rotors on the Enigma machine.

The bright drums of the bombe machine are stylised and turned into knitted colour work in this warm and practical cowl.

This is the original image from the proposal that shows the machine, sketch and swatch.

Bombe Cowl pic

As you can see, between sketch and design I changed my mind about the colour rotation. It made a more interesting knit and looked more like the machine if the contrast colour changed every pattern repeat. With no ends to worry about (they are all inside) practical considerations weren’t to stop me. This way¬†each section uses just a few grams of sock yarn so the project is a great stash buster and can even be used as a memory project to use up the last scraps of special yarns on a beautiful neutral background.


Worked in the round from a provisional cast on, the cowl is grafted together to form a seamless tube with no top or bottom, no right or wrongside. There is no shaping, a simple repeating pattern and no steeking to do, making this the ideal first colour work pattern. And because all ends are inside the work the usual colour work problem of weaving in a million ends doesn’t apply (thank goodness!)


If provisional cast ons and grafting give you the heebie geebies fear not. There are full instructions for the grafting or, if you prefer, you can use a standard cast on and cast off and seam the join with mattress stitch.

See full details of the pattern.






Here is where it gets geeky folks!

When I first saw the punched paper tapes that were fed into the collosus machine I thought they looked like lace ribbons. The idea stuck firmly in my head and when I began swatching for the collection I was determined to make something that had a secret code knitted in. Here is that initial swatch and sketch.

Cipher Lace Beanie

The pretty lace pattern in the Baudot beanie hides a secret: it spells out two words in the baudot cipher: Knit and Tink.

(Tink is a term for unknitting, where a mistake is rectified by carefully undoing each stitch back to where the mistake occured. Tink is Knit spelt backwards.)


Hopefully this easy lace pattern will see you doing more knitting that tinking! The pattern is made with yarn overs and k2tog decreases and is only worked on alternate rows (alternate rows are knit all the way around to give an attractive garter rib) so if you are new to lace this is a good place to start.

The hat is worked in the round from the brim to the crown using just one 50g skein. The crown is softly gathered rather than decreased which gives a lovely soft shape and has the advantage that there is no need to work on magic loops or double point needles as you reach the crown – it never decreases so that its shorter than the circular needle.


I’ve worn this hat so much since I made it, the soft slouch is really flattering on most face shapes and its just right for the current cold snap.

See full details of the pattern.