Knitwear and crochet trends for this Spring

Spring and summer yarns are out, summer dresses are appearing in the shops and the clocks are about to go forward, s0 it seems like a good time to take a look at the new seasons knitting and crochet fashion trends.

Colour block

Two or more contrasting colours in your summer knits are set to be a big hit this summer – you can go for strong contrasts or light and dark shades on one colour.

You can use different colours of the same yarn to achieve the look as with this Cleo dress from C+B.

Or you could use a yarn like Sirdar Colour Wheel which has been dyed to give you blocks of colour as you knit.

sirdar colourwheel

Mesh and lacy fabrics

This is a good summer to try a spot of lace knitting. This doesn’t necessarily mean tiny needles and extra fine yarns. Mesh knits in cotton tape yarns like this one in Rico Summery Ribbon.

mesh summer top

or a lacy knit in DK such as this sweater by Jenny Watson in a James C Brett yarn will also fit the bill.

Vintage stipes

Stripes are a popular choice this summer especially narrow ones or those that echo vintage garments. We think these two tops are great examples of the look.

 

Granny square

Granny squares are still enjoying a revival in the fashion stakes – if you are not sure you want a dress or a waistcoat in this technique, go for a crochet wrap like this one in Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK.

granny square qrap

Finding and saving patterns on Ravelry

When our Yarn Doctors are out and about on our stands at craft shows, one of the regular questions that people ask is “where can I find patterns?”.

There are a number of answers including a wide range of knitting and crochet magazines, and browsing the pattern leaflets at your local yarn shop. Your local yarn store owner will no doubt have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of patterns available, but if you still can’t find what you are looking for, another useful tool is Ravelry.com.

ravelry pattern search

Ravelry, the online knitting and crochet community, has a database with over 400,000 knitting and 200,000 crochet patterns including patterns from books, leaflets and magazines. Most entries include a picture or several, yarn and needles details and where to find the pattern (for example the leaflet number or magazine edition, and whether it is available online).

ravelry pattern searchYou can just browse popular patterns on the site but several hundred thousand options would take a while, so Ravelry has created a range of filters to help you find what you are looking for.

To narrow down you search you can choose different types of pattern in terms of knitting versus crochet, clothing or other projects, size, and yarn weight etc.

You can also choose options such as types of colour work, whether there are lace or cables, and even styles of pattern such as written versus charts.

As you make your choices the range of patterns reduces until you have a manageable number to browse.

You can also use the search box to look for patterns using a particular yarn or brand or from a particular source.

For example in the screengrab below, you can see a search for UK Hand Knitting which has brought up images for our baby patterns. I could further narrow down my search by clicking to only search for patterns using 4ply and including preemie sizes.

ravelry pattern search

I could also have searched for a particular yarn that I have in my stash to find patterns using it.

Once you have picked out a pattern you might want to make, you can save it to your “queue” – a list of patterns you like on your own account, which is very handy because it is easy to find the pattern again. Below I’m saving the particular UK Hand Knitting pattern I want to use  – now I have the details for when I’m ready to buy and use it.

ravelry pattern queue

The queue function also comes in handy when you spot a pattern in a magazine or book, or even in a pattern selection in a shop, that you might want to make in the future.

For example, it can be very frustrating flicking through a pile of magazines trying to remember where you saw that perfect cabled sweater. But if you search for the sweater on Ravelry and add it to your queue it will be much easier to find it in the future (as long as you keep the magazine). And if the pattern isn’t yet in the database, there are straightforward instructions to help you add it so you, and others, can track it down again in the future.

It can take a little bit of organisation to start your queue but once you have it, it is easy to browse all the things you want to knit and find where to access the patterns.

Plan your 2017 knitting and crochet fun

In some jobs it can be quite a good thing to be the person in the office on the days between Christmas and New Year.

You can sort out loose ends from the year, sort out the filing and get your diary organised for the new year.

If you have some down time at home over this period you can apply the same principles to your knitting and crochet pursuits.

You could plan some trips to yarn shows or workshops for the new year. There are already quite a few shows from large multi-craft events to local wool festivals in our 2017 events calendar and plenty of knitting and crochet classes being added to our workshop diary.

yarn event diary

Over the Christmas holidays is also a good time to finish off a few projects (or be brutally honest that some things aren’t going to be finished) and to plan new ones.

The equivalent of sorting out the office filing is to tackle the stack of knitting magazines you have been accumulating over the months. Go through them and identify the patterns you want to make. Some of us are strong willed enough to tear out those patterns to go in a folder and to throw away the rest – or perhaps share the remainder with other people at a knitting group.

organising knitting patterns

Once you have narrowed down your patterns, it can be great fun to go through your stashed yarn to see if you have something suitable. This can of course mean getting out all your yarn to have a look. Matching patterns to yarns and putting them together in a project bag can be very satisfying as you line up a little collection of projects for next year.

Of course you will discover that you don’t have the yarn for all the patterns you’ve saved, but that’s OK because now you have an excuse for a spot of yarn shopping and perhaps some online browsing to narrow down suitable yarns and colours. So it is a win win.

 

Knitters have their own hygge

There is a lot of talk at the moment about “hygge” and a lot of different explanations about what exactly it is.

I’ve variously read that it is a Danish, a Norwegian or a wider Scandinavian idea and come across a lot of different explanation of what the word means.

However, there are some things that most of the explanations agree on including an idea of taking pleasure in simple or small things, and creating a warm, friendly atmosphere.

When you think about it, in that case knitters and crocheters have a head start in the hygge stakes. We are the sort of people who take pleasure in simple but lovely things – a soft skein of squishy yarn, a pair of hand knit socks, or a successful stripe of fair isle.

What could be more cosy and homely than being on your sofa with a knitted cushion and some handmade socks while you work on the jumper or blanket in your lap.

With that in mind we’ve put together a selection of patterns that might qualify as hygge.

hygge knitting

Clockwise from top left: Hayfield Blanket; Cabled handwarmers from Debbie Bliss; King Cole tea cosies; Swift knit wrap by Stylecraft; Rico Slipper Socks; Mermaid blankets from Wendy; Crochet cushions from James C Brett

 

12 days of Christmas decorations

As you have probably seen, we’ve been encouraging people to make mini Christmas stockings that we’ve been turning into bunting for care homes, hospices and other worthy recipients. It has been huge success with close to 800 stocking collected – that’s a lot of bunting.

Not only is this spreading cheer across the country, but chatting to some of the knitters and crocheters who made stockings for the appeal, we’ve realised that making Christmas decorations like the socks or baubles are a great way to try out different techniques.

Once knitters and crocheters got hold of our mini stocking patterns, lots were inspired to add motifs, stripes, lace, etc to personalise their work.

knitted christmas decorations

Some of your mini stockings

This made us think that December might be a good time for a mini-making challenge that can double as a stash buster. Why not download one of our mini-stocking patterns or a basic bauble pattern (knitted or crocheted) and choose 12 patterns or techniques you want to try, delve into your stash and get creative.

You’ll end up with a set of unique tree ornaments designed by you and have increased your knitting and crochet skills.

Please share your results – we’d love to see your ideas,

Knitting from charts

When we talk to knitters, many mention that they don’t like charts or are nervous of patterns that include them. Often this is because knitters haven’t ever been shown how to work from charts, so we thought we’d provide an introduction.

Charts are simply another way of providing knitting instructions and if they are well drawn they should to some extent be a diagram of how your knitting should look.

The most straightforward charts to understand are those for colourwork.

knititng in colour chart

Each square on the chart represents a stitch. You could think of putting your knitting needle below the chart and matching the stitches on your needle to the stitches on the chart.

Right side rows are worked from right to left, this is why the right hand column is labelled 1. If you think about matching your knitting to the chart, if you are working a right side row the tip of your needle would be at the right hand side of the chart. A wrong side row would be worked from left to right because you are working back along your stitches.

The key to the chart tells you the right side rows are knitted and the wrong side ones are purled. It also shows you what colour yarn each stitch is worked in. So your knitting should look like the chart picture as you progress.

This chart also has a red outlined box. This shows you the set of stitches to repeat across the row for the pattern to right a across your work. For example a in a garment with five flowers across it, row one might be written out as “K2A (k5A, k2B, k5A, k2B, k6A) five times, k1A” – A and B refer to the yarn colours. All the chart is doing is showing you that in a picture.

Cable charts

Cable charts can be a good example of showing how your work should look as well. The symbols for cables here show which direction each cable should slope.

knitting cables chart

It is important to read both the key to any chart and the abbreviations carefully. This will tell you how many stitches are used in a cable and what to do.

For example here we have a symbol using three squares which the key says is Tw3B. The abbreviations section would tell you that this means “slip next 1 st on to cable needle and hold to back, k2, p1 from cable needle” – this makes cable that slopes to the right and if you look at the symbol it has a right leaning slope. The dot in the symbol is the purl stitch and you can see that it is worked after the knit stitches.

Texture and lace

lace chart knitting

Charts for texture and lace should be approached in just the same way, understanding what each symbol means and working one stitch at a time.

You may find that as you work with charts for a while you will be able to look at a piece of knitting and see more clearly what is happening with the pattern because you are more used to reading the stitches from a picture.

Top tips

Of course looking at the charts at first might still be daunting so we asked our social media followers for their advice.

Most of this focused on being able to see clearly which row you are working on the chart. The top recommendations were to use washi tape, post-it-notes or a chart board with magnetic strips to outline the row you are working. That way you won’t be distracted by other rows.

Another useful suggestion is to photocopy the chart and use coloured pencils or highlighter pens to mark different stitches in different colours.

If your chart involves repeats, put a stitch marker or a loop of contrasting yarn on the needles at the start of the group of stitches for each repeat.

What are your top tips for working from charts, please tell us in the comments.

Ideas for crocheted Christmas gifts

Last week we looked a couple of books that could come in useful when knitting gifts.

But we know that more and more of you are crocheting as well, so might also be thinking of getting your hooks out ahead of the festive season.

If you are new to crochet it is probably best to aim for well-chosen small projects this year. Concentrating on small gifts were you have thought a lot about the colours and yarns you use is more realistic than tackling a series of blankets for this year.

Great choices for small projects include gadget cosies, bags and purses, mug hugs and neckwarmers in chunky yarns. These can be personalised without weeks of work. Purses, matts and other homewares can be interesting learning projects as well because you can find patterns in cotton and less traditional yarns like raffia as well as wool.

crochet gifts

Crochet blanket from Hayfield; Stylecraft tech cosies; Crochet bag from Wendy; Fun animal from James C Brett; this Noro cowl pattern is a free download; Rico’s fun slippers; and a raffia bag by King Cole

If you have been crocheting for a while this might be the year to make someone a beautiful throw in someone’s favourite colours – assuming you have the time and ability to hide it from the recipient. Or you could try something with interesting construction such as a cosy pair of slippers.

For kids (and some adults), crochet toys are a good option. There are plenty of patterns out there mainly using double crochet so they can be good TV projects because they often require several rounds of the same stitch. The results are often well loved so using a robust acrylic yarn is often the best option allowing them to survive for a good length of time.

And if you don’t want the pets to be left out, why not make crochet a pet basket.

hayfield-cat-basket