Archive for the ‘designs’ Category

Isla Cape

Monday, December 12th, 2011

In response to quite a few people overseas who have asked me about my Baby Cape pattern and whether it can be emailed, here it is, as a PDF.

It will soon be in print form, too, along with all my other patterns, available for knitting stores to buy wholesale.

So, how cute is Isla? She’s the gorgoeus wee daughter of my photographer, Helen Bankers. Her full name is Isla Winchester which to me sounds like a movie star without even trying.

This is a pretty easy knit, worked from the top down so that you can customize the length. It’s the most divine thing to wrap a baby in, and a very cute jacket alternative for a toddler. Made in the ultra practical, soft and reasonably priced Cascade 220.



November 30

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

More stunning textiles from the Pacific region.

Remember when I wrote about the fun I had at a tivaevae (Cook Islands appliqué) workshop? Now there’s an exhibit of crochet and embroidery from another south Pacific nation, Tonga.

It’s at Objectspace on Ponsonby Road until December 22. I can’t wait to see it. Judging by these images, it promises to be exquisite.


What have I been making lately?

It’s not often I write about a work in progress but I’ve decided to share this one as it evolves because I’m excited about it and it’s such a simple thing (oh dear, I hope it turns out as I imagine, otherwise I’ll have to fake it).

My niece is getting marred in January, and I wanted to give her something hand knit for her home. She and her fiancé recently moved into a vintage 1960′s house which has wood floors throughout, so I thought a rug might go down well, so to speak. It’s something I’ve wanted to make  for years, big, bold, and felted. Manos Wool Clasica has a fabulous bright red, the colour of passion and prosperity, perfect for newly weds, don’t you think?

Making a rug in one piece would be a hot and cumbersome task, so this one is a collection of large hexagon medallions, easy and fast to make on large needles with the yarn doubled. Medallions are my new favourite construction shape. I used them in the yoke of Paloma.

The fun part is deciding how to configure them. Then comes the stitching together and the felt, felt, felting. If it turns out to be too large for my washing machine, I’ll take it to a commercial laundry and ask them to wash the daylights out of it.

So, what shape?


or circle/flower?

new design

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Hello! This is Paloma, a new design of mine that’s in The Knitter Issue 35.

I combined my love of Mexican blouses, buttons, and top down construction for this top. For some time, I’ve been wanting to experiment by stitching seams only in a few places for a deconstructed openwork effect. The yoke of Paloma seemed like the perfect place to do this. It’s made of medallions knitted on double pointed needles. Stitches for the bodice are picked up from the lower tier and the rest is plain sailing. The yarn is Siena the lovely mercerized fingering weight cotton from Rowan.

I used shell buttons for the embellishments, but you could use any kind, especially favourites from your collection, if you’re a hoarder like me.

The back has an optional lace motif.

The photos are courtesy of The Knitter. You can buy this issue and downloads of past issues on this website.

p.s. I’m currently in LA, staying with a friend for two weeks. My knitting support David is shipping orders for SSK while I’m away. If any of you LA readers would like to meet up for a knitting get together, please email me. I’d love to see you.

I heart summer

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

I guess it’s safe to say summer is over? But I still have some tomatoes on my plants, and lots of basil!

This was my last pick of the red tomatoes. The ones left on the vine are green and I doubt they will ripen now, so what to do but make lemons from lemonade, or, er, something like that.

Fried green tomatoes. I learned to make them from a southern belle I knew in Los Angeles. She tossed it off in conversation peppered with her delightful southern drawl. Here it is:


In a bowl, mix flour and polenta or cornmeal in equal quantities (a little of each). Add fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt. Cut your tomatoes into 1/2″ slices and have them ready. Heat some olive oil in a pan (olive oil browns things very quickly which is important because you don’t want the tomatoes to cook for too long) and when the oil is almost smoking, toss a few tomato slices in the floury mix and put into the pan. Sizzle on both sides and voila! You have your fried green tomatoes. They’re delicious with scrambled eggs and tabasco sauce.

How much do we love meeting friends in faraway places, thanks to the internet?

I found these two stylish ladies on Ravelry recently. Both have made my Abigail cardigan which was on the cover of The Knitter last year. Not only  did they do an exquisite job of knitting it, they also went to the trouble of taking lovely photos. It’s a designer’s dream. Thank you ladies!

note: the pattern is now available as a PDF here.

Here is Valda, from Ukraine. What a gorgeous emerald green.

Schnauzer love

and Joanna, from Poland, sans collar. Love her pink and red. Joanna made the neckline into a picot edge to match the hems.

All I can say is wow!

koigu news

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

What is your desert island yarn? If you were marooned somewhere, which yarn would keep you sane and what would you knit?

I would make this:

It’s crochet in which I’m a novice, but with months to await a passing ship, I might as well spend the time on self-improvement.

The Babette blanket, designed by Kathy Merrick, just happens to use my desert island yarn: Koigu KPM. Whenever I’m about to start a new project, I have to steer myself away from my Koigu shelf, just to be fair on other yarns.

Koigu is known most famously for it’s exquisite multi-coloured yarn, KPPPM, but it’s the semi-solid KPM that I love best, for infinite colour possibilties (they go on forever- I will never keep up) and the satisfying springiness of the wool.

So, I’m very excited that I have two designs in the first Koigu magazine, which is coming out this month.

Here they are:

Skipping Stones, a patchwork cardigan that I first made for myself to satisfy a need for a lightweight, structured cardigan that I could wear anywhere.

The second design is “Scholar” which I imagined Julia Flyte wearing with a pleated silk skirt at a Brideshead garden party.

If you love the Babette blanket, Kathy Merrick has a beautiful book, Crochet in Color. It’s full of stylish projects.

Here are my favourites

If you love Koigu too, what is your favourite project?

Mother’s Day gift

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

first sign of autumn: I fancy making a chicken curry

sign that I’m not ready: I reach for the fat and high winter soup stock pot but decide to use the grill instead

The leaves outside are not yet falling, but on this little Mother’s Day project, they are. Yes I know it’s two months away, but if you start early you can make something for your Mum and mother-in- law if she’s deserving.

This is a delicate little “falling leaf” pattern that comes to a close with a lovely curve. Habu tsumugi silk and a strand of linen steel make it fine but sturdy, ideal for inside the pages of a favourite book. I’d be delighted to find this on my breakfast tray on Mother’s Day.

The book is Michael Ondaatje’s  Handwriting: Poems,  suitable for a romantically inclined Mum who might like to read a poem every night before sleep. I fell in love with Ondaatje’s writing after  reading The English Patient.

Here’s the pattern:



Habu linen steel; 3 graige

Habu tsumugi silk fine lace; 32 red

2mm needles

The bookmark is knitted using a strand each of the above yarn worked together.


Gauge is not crucial to this pattern


Approximately 24cm x 5cm


Row 1(RS): K4, yo, k1, skpo, p1, k2tog, k1, yo, p1, skpo, p1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, k4.

Row 2: K3, p5, k1, p1, k1, p3, k1, p4, k3.

Row 3: K4, yo, k1,  skpo, p1, k2tog, k1, p1, s1, k2tog, psso, yo, k3, yo, k4.

Row 4: K3, p7, k1, p2, k1, p4, k3.

Row 5: K4, yo, k1, yo, skpo,  p1, [k2tog] twice, yo, k5, yo, k4.

Row 6: K3, p8, k1, p1, k1, p5, k3.

Row 7: K4, yo, k3, yo, s1, k2tog, psso, p1, yo, k1, skpo, p1, k2tog, k1, yo, k4.

Row 8: K3, p4, k1, p3, k1, p7, k3.

Row 9: K4, yo, k5, yo, skpo, k1, skpo, p1, k2tog, k1, yo, k4.

Row 10: K3, p4, k1, p2, k1, p8, k3.


Cast on 22sts using a strand each of the linen steel and tsumugi silk.

Knit 3 rows garter st.

Repeat the 10 pattern rows 12 times or to desired length, finishing on the right side with row 9.

Wrong side facing knit 3 rows garter st.

Cast off.

happy knitting!

new design

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Here’s what I was doing during our winter last year. A pullover knitted from the top down, in the round.  It has just come out in The Knitter, Issue 28.

The inspiration was Mongolian Nomad, and I imagined this as something made from home spun with little accents of embroidery inspired by flowers of the desert. The closet thing to home spun for those of us who don’t spin our own is Manos Wool Clasica, which I used here. I love the thick and thin surprises and the subtle variegation of the solids, which are kettle dyed by hand.

Even if you don’t subscribe to The Knitter, you can buy single issues on their website and here’s something I recently discovered, thanks to Rachel, a helpful customer: you can buy singles issues as downloads, here.

How customer friendly! It even provides the price in your home currency.

Top Down. It’s so handy to be able to try a garment as you go, and have flexibility with the fit and length. It’s pleasing in a way that has nothing to do with never having to work a purl row which you do have to do sometimes anyway, even in the round. If you’re working garter stitch, for example. I’ve never seen anything wrong with purling. That said, my tension is definitely looser on purl rows. My Mum confessed late in her knitting life that she always used a smaller needle on the purl rows and I do this myself if I remember to. If I forget, I notice the difference and usually have to unravel.

Wildflowers is slightly flared in the torso, and has this inverted pleat at back for an extra bit of swing.

Always on the hunt for strange and wonderful knitted things, I recently saw this balaclava.  It’s cut and sewn knitted fabric  but I’m betting it won’t be long before a hand knitter makes one….

I also discovered Yarnivore recently.  Love those pills.

Yarn is a drug, but a healthy one.

keep something for seven years

Friday, December 31st, 2010

… and you’re sure to find a use for it. One of my mothers favourite sayings.

There I was, attempting to tidy our garage, a daunting task given the towers of containers that made the journey from California to New Zealand and have not been opened in four years. Some of them are full of fabrics, you know, the remnants you can’t possibly throw away, because you love them too much or just in case….

In one of the boxes I found this pillow that I made seven years ago, to display on the sofa at my store. I wasn’t happy with it at the time, so I put it aside but luckily, didn’t throw it away, because now I rather like it! My passion for Tivaevae knows no bounds, and this was my idea for a knit version. The pattern is anthurium. What a lesson for me, not to throw out projects I’m not quite happy with when I finish them. When I let some time elapse, I often decide I like it after all. It’s happened many times.

The pillow looks like this on the back side. Simple stripes.

If anyone would like to make my tivaevae pillow, email me and I’ll scan the graph and send it to you.

In other news, David brought this home the other day, having paid good money to the charming owner of Le Petit Village, the shop on Great North Road with the huge collection of vintage French flotsam and jetsam. A road sign, I hear you thinking, how “unique”. Let me explain.

We live on a very narrow street which our  delightful neighbours from the suburb over the hill have decided is a shortcut to town. They race along our street at the local speed limit which is 50 kph, often clipping the side mirrors of cars parked at the curb. We are the annoying people who stand outside our gate and wave to the passing cars to prompt them to slow down. They usually speed up when we do this. So David decided to take matters in hand and buy us our own sign to erect on the lamp post outside, until the City hears our pleas. We worry about small children.

The sign got me thinking. I tried putting it on the wall outside my workroom. I kind of like it. It has a certain Andy Warhol-ish appeal. Maybe I’ll keep it there and it will remind me to slow down whenever I walk by.

The drivers on our street are on a mission, sometimes with cell phone in hand. They’re focussed on getting there, wherever there is, and not on their surroundings. I confess I’ve been one of them.

Slowing down is good for us. My doctor told me that a good way to eat less is to eat slowly and consciously, to savour and chew my food thoroughly. Eating too quickly is a bad habit I fall into, often because I’m thinking about the next thing I have to do. Much of the time I’m working on a knitting project, so you’d think I’d be plenty slow, but even with knitting, I tend to try to be in a hurry because there’s always another project begging to be made.

So that’s my New Year’s resolution, to slow down, smell the

…gardenias, and appreciate every wonderful little and large detail of my life.

Thank you to all who read my blog and to everyone who comments. Your enthusiasm and your stories inspire me.

Happy New Year! Best wishes to everyone for a very special 2011!

paddock to Park Ave

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

photo by Rose Callahan

Happy happy holidays!

Ours is going to be a quiet Christmas, with beach picnics and a few days away at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, legendary for it’s hot spring under the sand. You dig a bathing hole (shovels are usually provided by the motels), wait for warm water to ooze into it, then dash back and forth between the crisp cool waves and the hot pool. Sometimes it can get so hot that you have to fetch come cold sea water to cool it down again!

Thanks to my daily walks, I have a new, slightly smaller swimsuit, so I’m ready!

Some wonderful news has arrived with the Holiday Season. Delysia (above), my sculptured cable pullover is coming out in Vogue Knitting Winter 2010-11 which will be on news stands January 4. You can see the gallery of designs in this issue here.

I originally made Delysia to wear myself, and I wanted it to be above all, flattering.

Much as I love the look of cables, I learned at the age of 16, after slaving over an entire aran pullover and skirt from a pattern in the English Woman’s weekly, that cables can add inches. So, the ideal cable garment for me is one that isn’t an all over design.

I’m also fond of projects that engage my brain every so often, but don’t require line by line attention to the pattern.

The next criteria is wearability. Cables have a casual, country look, and I like a sweater I can comfortably wear to a dinner party or a board meeting (right, like I’m going to be attending one of those, but you never know….).

So, Delysia, has a diagonal cable that meanders across the front and back, turns and meets up with similar cables that dance around the yoke. All-over cables but not really. Plenty of plain knitting with just one cable action front and back on each round.

Don’t you love seamless construction? It’s so flattering, and fun to knit.

The yoke decreases are hidden in the cables and my favourite folded hem gives it a dressy look.

I hope you like it!

Here’s a photo of the back, with my friend Charlotte modeling.

The yarn is Naturally Pride, a dk machine washable wool.

and here she is in the sweater I originally made for myself, in peach coloured organic merino.

Have a safe and happy holiday season. PEACE for all!

rosehip and other lovely colours

Monday, December 13th, 2010

At last, I’ve sent off my overseas packages, late as usual, because I was finishing knitted gifts. News reports of frigid weather in the UK have been suggesting really warm things, especially a pair of cozy gloves made from one skein of Jade Sapphire 4 ply cashmere, shade Rose Hip. It was down to the wire with the one skein and as I finished the thumb on the second glove I held my breath, making it a close shave with just a couple of metres to spare, not bad considering the generously long cuff.

If you’re making your own pattern you don’t know, when you start, just how much yarn you’ll need. To help with this, I keep an electronic scale handy and weigh the yarn as I go to calculate usage. Once you’ve finished one glove you can weight it to see if you have enough yarn left for its mate.

All very well, you might say, but if there’s less than half a skein left, you won’t really want to unravel al those tricky fingers and unwind down to the cuff. One suggestion would be to start the glove with the hand, casting on with a scrap yarn, then, when the fingers are complete, knit the cuff in reverse.

I made this pattern with the help of one of my favourite books, Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns. I love this book. It’s a template for a number of projects (socks, hats, berets, vests, simple sweaters), in child and adult sizes and multiple gauges. What’s not to like? All you have to do is make a swatch, figure out your gauge and the size you want to make, and bingo, there’s your pattern ready for you to knit as-is or customize if you wish. For my Rose Hip gloves, I made up a simple cable pattern to suit the number of stitches in the cuff ( a 4 stitch cable with 2 purl stitches).

Now that the packages are winging their way to London and New York, I’m ready to start some new projects. Ah, that feeling of anticipation.

The beginning is the best part with any project, isn’t it? The completion is a thrill too, but first things first.

I’m thinking about colours I’ll use and as always, nature provides much inspiration.

Her are some sweet sights from my daily walks…

two much loved villas, one with a peek of New Zealand sky blue

pink surprise on a bottle brush

my favourite mock orange, or Philadelphus, such a delicious fragrance I’d like to bottle it

a pincushion protea, dancing in the wind at the side of the road

irrestible camouflage browns

irresistible greens

does anyone know the name of this beautiful tree with the lush pink flowers?

here’s another

Now I’m feeling inspired, I’m off to make a knitted something……