Introducing Colossus and Hut 8

Following on from the launch of my collection for Eden Cottage Yarns last week and the posts about the inspiration behind the collection, the crochet pieces and the knitted accessories, today I’d like to introduce you to the final two pieces, the knitted garments.

COLOSSUS

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Colossus was the first programmable digital computer and it was designed to assist the codebreakers in their work. Technology that would probably now fit on your fingertip takes a whole room and each connection is a physical cable rather than slivers of silicon. (Probably. I don’t actually know how all this works, I was software not hardware!) So there are cables everywhere, weaving in and out across the machine. This complex mess became the inspiration for this heavily cabled knitted tank top or vest. Here are the original sketch and swatch from the proposal:

Collosus Tank

The cables are a little more orderly in the knitted version and although complex looking, the twenty row repeat is easily learnt for a satisfying knit.

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What I really enjoyed about  designing this vest is the nice knitterly touches like the way the cables flow up the straps and the cabled waist shaping that echos the main pattern.

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It’s worked seamlessly in the round to the under arms where it is split and the back and front are worked separately in rows. You’ll need to be on your toes to stay in pattern and not lose your cable needle but other than that bit of concentration required there is nothing too challenging in the pattern. It took me a fair while to make – one friend was shocked to see me still knitting the same thing three weeks in a row, she’d never seen me do that before! (I think that was more to do with how busy life was at that point though!)

Elegant enough for even the most sophisticated Wren operator to wear as mufti, it looks just as good layered over a shirt for the office as it does with a long sleeved tee and jeans.

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I’m planning on doing a post showing all the garments a little more casually styled if people would be interested. I love the office smart feel we created for the shoot but its always nice to show how versatile a knit is, isn’t it?

View the pattern details.

 

HUT 8

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Hut 8 cardigan is my homage to the civilian admin staff who carried out the routine admin, including punching holes in cards and filing messages. Around 130 women worked on these admin tasks and are the unsung heroes of the war – without their support the code breakers wouldn’t have been able to do their work. Hut 8 is an ordinary, everyday knitted cardigan. Its not showy but it does its job elegantly. Its a workhorse, its a staple, it will be absolutely essential to your wardrobe. I wish I had the time to knit one in every colour because I’ve been wearing Hut 8 non stop since its release ( a bit before actually- shhhh! – I got impatient!) and I find it so comfortable and so flattering. Luckily it should be hard wearing with the rolled hems and cuffs, the high twist and 15% silk in the yarn.

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Because I like seeing them from other designers here is the original sketch of the design from the proposal (I wish I had some gorgeous wide legged trousers like these to team it with!)

Hut 8 Cardigan

Because I became a little obsessed with codes while working on the collection you will notice that the number eight comes up a lot in the pattern. Things get worked eight times, the garter stitch and stocking stitch bands are eight rows wide. See how many eights you can spot!

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The cardigan is knitted seamlessly in one piece from the top down which allows for easy adjustment for fit. The three quarter length sleeves are worked in the round from live stitches and the button band is worked as you go for minimal finishing. Once you’ve finished the knitting its ready to wash and wear. Its an easy enough knit to make it your first garment or first seamless garment, you can try it on as you go to check it is progressing as it should.

See the pattern details.

Why Bletchley?

Hi,

As promised, I’m back to fill you in with a little more detail about the inspiration behind the collection I launched on Wednesday.

So why Bletchley?

Back in May, Victoria and I began to talk about the possibility of collaborating to create a small collection for the Milburn range. We wanted to include patterns for knitting and crochet to show off the versatility of this beautiful yarn. We wanted an emphasis on wearable, everyday, wardrobe staples as we are both passionate about knitting for a purpose. Milburn is just too nice to knit it and pop it in a drawer, its a yarn that cries out to be worn (and with the silk blend and relatively high twist it is soft enough to wear next to the skin but strong enough to withstand washing and wearing well)

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After receiving a bag with all the colours that currently existed (two more have been developed since) I was struck by the beautiful vintage palette and decided that the collection would at least tip its hat to the first half of the twentieth century.

A year or so before I had visited Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, the former home of the code breakers – Alan Turing and his team who cracked the enemy ciphers and enabled the Allies to understand the intercepted messages. I blogged about it here. I found the colours, shapes and imagery of the museum very inspiring and had made copious notes and sketches of ideas based on things I’d seen that day. Coming from a software engineering background, I loved the idea of including themes of early computing into my design work.

Yarn, colour and inspiration tied up and I put together a proposal to Victoria who was also excited by the idea.

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Over the six pieces in the collection I explored the early computing and encoding machines and the codes or ciphers loaded into them. I wanted to connect these ideas into items of clothing typically worn by off duty WRENs who manned the machines but in a modern wearable way, the shapes and styles tip a nod to the 1940s rather than trying to recreate them.

I thought a lot about wartime themes of rationing and shortage while I was creating the designs. Colourwork was very popular in the war as it enabled small scraps of yarn to be used up. All of the designs have a frugal use of this beautiful yarn in their fit and style.

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Victoria is very interested in the crochet I produce and was keen that there be some crochet pieces in the collection. Its quite rare for independent yarn producers to support crochet and I was delighted to be able to include both crafts.

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When we began planning the shoot we hardly dared hope that Bletchley would let us photograph the collection on site. There is a  no cameras rule on the park now. But in the spirit of “you don’t ask you don’t get” I emailed the site team and they couldn’t have been lovelier. They were very interested in the collection and supporting us, we were given free access for the day and allowed to shoot wherever we wanted. We drew a few strange looks and comments from the other visitors!

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I also got a little chance to see how the museum has developed since I last visited. The new displays are wonderful and really bring the era to life with amazing use of interactive technology. I spotted lovely touches like vintage typewriters on each desk and a hand-knitted cardigan thrown over the back of the secretary’s chair. The make do and mend display of knitwear was still out too (in the room behind the post office.) I recommend a trip if you haven’t been recently.

The site was absolutely perfect for a shoot (even if it hadn’t been the subject matter) as it has such a wonderful array of colours and textures and beautiful vistas. We were very lucky with the light too. It was mid September and overcast which gave several hours of diffused natural light in which to get the shots we needed.

Over the next week I will be introducing each design and showing you how it went from inspiration to sketch to finished object. I do hope you’ll pop back to see.

Teasers

If you follow me or Eden Cottage Yarns on social media you will have seen the teaser shots for my upcoming collection over the past week. I thought I’d share them here in preparation for the launch this Wednesday.

PicMonkey Collage

I can’t wait to show you more.

Watch this space.

10/12/14.

 

PS: the yarn used is Milburn 4ply – in case you want to stock up!

Help! It’s Doomvember!

So imagine, the world is ending. What on earth will you knit? Surely that will be the first thought on your mind (once your initial survival is assured of course)

Well luckily for you a new book launches next month to help you answer this conundrum and I am delighted to have a pattern included.

Doomsday Knits was conceived and curated by Alex Tinsley and contains 32 patterns for the bargain price of $16.95 and is available to preorder now (release is in December)

The designs are grouped into the cause of the global cataclysm and my design is in the Global Warming chapter.

Fatigued is a military inspired muscle back dress.

In my proposal I described it like this (and here is the original sketch so you can see how the visions became a reality and how the styling matches my original ideas so well)

…the survivors roam in small groups across the searing desert. Girls rock the sweaty look in sexy military inspired garb… Fatigued is a low cut, racer back, a-line mini dress with military detailing. Wear with 14 hole DMs and a serious attitude. (Also cute worn with sandals and a smile.)

The dress is worked top down in pieces to the underarm then joined and worked in the round. The pockets and pocket flaps are sewn on after and you pick up stitches for the neck edging – nothing too taxing.
It is worked in Berroco Remix, a recycled cotton blend that is lovely to knit with (although like all cotton blends the gauge lies so be sure to do a decent sized swatch – the large pockets make a good swatch!) It was important to me to use the project to think about yarn as a renewable resource and it made sense to use a yarn that is reclaimed and made in an environmentally friendly manner – you can read more about how it is produced here (pdf) Responsible choices now might even help prevent global warming.
Follow the blog tour to find out about the other patterns in the book. Next stop is hosted here
(and while you are hanging out over there check out this great graphic from the book too!)
All images are taken from the book.

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Knit Camp

Want to learn to knit? Or just improve your skills?
After much planning and secret squirrel meetings I am delighted to announce that I will be a camp counselor at Knit Camp 2014! Crochet Camp was great but such a lot of work for Kat on her own that this time she has recruited Libby Summers and me to give her a hand. So you lucky people get three teachers!
Hosted over at Kat’s blog, Knit Camp is the perfect way to learn to knit or improve your skills and move beyond scarves.
The online and totally FREE course will include lots of tutorials and three beautiful patterns for you to master. The learning is supported by a facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice, swap stories with fellow campers. 
If you want to get a feel for what it will be like then check out the posts Kat did for Crochet Camp this summer (The crochet camp 2013 facebook group has almost 1,500 members and they have such a giggle on that board!)

The online classes will begin on 6th January and we will be issuing kit lists about a week before so you can get your materials ready. 
For those who want the work taken out of it, we have put together a limited number of kits including luxury yarn, needles, a mini hot water bottle and an A5 booklet containing all the patterns and instructions on how to join in. The kit comes packed up in a pretty box so it makes a perfect gift.
You can pre-order your kit from today and they will begin shipping in mid November. Kits cost £35 and are available from here.
You can request a sign up to the facebook group and start getting to know your fellow virtual campers.

Beatrice Offer

Hi,

Just to let you know that my Beatrice Evening Bag pattern is now available as an individual pattern download (it was only available as a kit before) for just £2.

But you lucky blog readers can have it for just £1 if you hurry. For 12 days only (until 13th December) Use the code BLOG12 at the Ravelry checkout to get this special deal.

It is a really quick and fun knit for Christmas gifts or an easy way to make a cute bag to go with any outfit over the party season. Its a good stash buster too as it only takes around 95 yds of chunky/bulky yarn for the small bag and 190 yds for the larger bag.

Joanne

New patterns and a giveaway!

Yesterday saw the release of the new Artesano Silk Blend Book 2. Which includes two patterns from me.

Triogona

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and Southwold Pier
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The book contains 9 lovely patterns from a talented bunch of designers for an absolutely bargain price of £3.50. 
If you haven’t tried Manos Silk Blend yet, I highly recommend it. It is a beautifully soft merino and silk blend in a DK weight. It is unplied and an utter joy to knit with. It has a very soft handle but doesn’t seem prone to bobbling and a lovely subtle soft sheen to it.
I think Triogona is my favourite design I’ve made so far. It is so feminine and flattering, a challenging knit but not too hard. I just need to find the time to make one for myself now.
Jenny at Artesano has very kindly allowed me to celebrate the launch of the booklet with a fabulous giveaway. One lucky winner will win the pattern booklet and enough yarn to knit the pattern of their choice.
To win pop over to the Ravelry pattern page and come back here and tell me which pattern you’d like to knit and in which colourway. Get yourself another entry by tweeting, blogging and/or sharing on facebook and letting me know you have done it by commenting here.
I’ll draw a winner on Saturday 8th December.
Good luck everyone!

Beatrice Evening Bag

I am really excited to announce my latest design the Beatrice Evening Bag

the small bag
This is my first ever kit design and I am so pleased with it.
Its a very simple but pretty design that knits up very quickly – ideal for making Christmas gifts or making yourself a bag for all those Christmas parties. 
The bag comes in two sizes small (or I travel light) or large (or what do you mean I couldn’t possible go out without it!) Small measures 10 x 20 cm (4″ x 8″), large measures 14 x 30 cm ( 5 1/2″ x 12″)
the large bag
The kit is exclusively available from magpielly.co.uk. It costs £11.99 which includes the a digital copy of the pattern, yarn and ribbon. The kit makes either one large bag or two small bags. 
That means 2 Christmas presents could be sorted in one evening for just £11.99!

The bag was inspired by necessity: I needed a pretty bag to take to a formal do so I dreamt this up. The interplay of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch with just a touch of lace was inspired by a vintage clutch of my grandmother that I have long admired. 
Because the bag was designed for practical reasons it is a bag that really works for its purpose. The measurements were taken to allow all my essentials to fit in the smaller bag or I can hold a bit more in the larger bag. It is knit at a tight gauge (on 6mm needles) so that there is no need to line the bag yet my lipstick and coins still won’t slide out. The ribbon handles are pretty and functional and mean there is no need to seam. What more could you want?!
The kit is available in Aubergine (as pictured) , Spice or Jade
Spice
Jade

Or, pick the special order kit option to choose any other colour from the very extensive  Lamb’s Pride Bulky range – I dare anyone to have an evening dress they can’t match to one of these colours!

Talaitha

You may remember back in March I was working with some lovely bright colours

These rainbow colours which will be appearing in Inside Crochet later this month (you may spot the one ball of Flirt DK in there which made the Jess skirt in last month’s Inside Crochet too)
And these lovely bright balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto. Lots of people on twitter were keen to know the project but I can only just reveal it. They were for a designer challenge in Knit Now Issue 12 (arriving with subscribers about now and in the shops on Thursday 23rd) 

The challenge was to design with just 100g of the yarn and I realised I could just about squeeze a baby top in with those quantities. Here is the finished result:

Photo: Tim Bradley for Practical Publishing
Its a lovely little make with pretty slipped stitch colour work. At around £11 for the yarn its a great gift idea for a new baby girl. The top is worked seamlessly from the top down on one size of needle, no dpns to worry about as the sleeves are capped. Its written in three sizes ranging from birth to two.
There are lots of other great patterns in this issue so I highly recommend you go out and get it. Knit Now is available in yarn shops, newsagents and the supermarkets.
It is very special that my first magazine published knitting pattern will be in the shops on what would have been my Nanny’s birthday as she was the one who taught me to knit and inspired me with her amazing skill.
Joanne

Framlingham

I am very pleased to announce the arrival of my latest pattern Framlingham 

Framlingham is easy to knit and easy to wear. 

Knit in superwash merino for a little bit of everyday luxury with heat regulating properties that take it from the warmest summer day through to a layering piece for winter.

Worked in one piece on a circular needle in the round, Framlingham is the ideal introduction to top-down, seamless knitting. No DPNs required! The pretty cabling detail that runs down the raglan and side ‘seams’ doesn’t even need a cable needle as it is worked using a simple slip stitch pattern. The garter stitch borders are knitted as you go too.

The pattern is written to make it a quick and enjoyable knit, markers are used to minimise counting and errors. There is just enough detail to keep the knit interesting. It grows quickly in a DK weight and 4mm needles.

The name is inspired by the twisted chimney at Framlingham castle which reminded me of the twisting cables in this top. And the colour of the merino is reminiscent of the heather on the nearby heaths.
Dress it down with denim or dress it up with pretty summer skirt. Layer it with a cardigan over or a long sleeved top underneath, this is a versatile knit.
Because Wendy Merino is great value at just £3.79 a ball most sizes can be made for £26 including the pattern.
Full pattern details can be found on the Ravelry pattern page or the Craftsy pattern page.
Or you can buy it now: 

Photo credits: THANK YOU to my wonderful photographer Kath of Lightbook Photography for the fantastic shots of the top. Thank you to Christy from snapdragonchristy for letting me use her shot of Framlingham Castle. The shot of the suffolk heather is copyright of Throwawayhack used under creative commons license.