Myrtle meanders along

I have made some progress on my summery Myrtle tee. It is knitted entirely in lace, on US2/2.75mm needles, so the progress has been a bit meandering. Nonetheless, I have finished the body of the top, having shaped the armscyes and neckline, and then used a 3-needle bind-off to knit the front and back together at the shoulders. I think it looks rather pretty.

The yarn is Madelinetosh Merino Light in Pink Clay, Sugar Coat, Librarian’s Dreams, Joshua Tree, and Rocinante. I didn’t buy this yarn for this pattern, but rather am re-purposing the yarn from a kit I purchased to make a shawl (the Scout Shawl – which I blogged about here). The kit contains two full and three partial skeins of yarn (enough of each to knit the shawl) and this means that I have had to struggle with how I utilise the colours in the Myrtle. I ran out of the Joshua Tree (dark green) colour after knitting 4 pattern repeats; thus, you can see that the top repeat and a half utilise only four colours instead of five. I am very shortly to run out of the Rocinante (the terracotta-rose colour) as well; I am hoping that I have enough Rocinante left for one pattern stripe on each sleeve. The only colour I have an abundance of at this point is the Pink Clay, although I do have enough of the Sugar Coat (white) to finish all of the ribbing.

The top is a bit shorter than I would have wished – if I wasn’t worried about running out of yarn I would have added another stripe or two before binding off for the armscyes. And it is a bit on the clingy side as well – having decreased both the stitch count and the needle size after an earlier attempt was turning out too big. However, I am fairly confident that the magic of blocking is going to fix both of these issues. I am still pondering what to do about the sleeve shapings. I plan to knit short sleeves, with two or three bands of horseshoe lace pattern and then some ribbing. However, if you look at the original pattern (by Kate Davies), you will see that the shoulder is dropped, and so the sleeves are formed by picking up around the armscye and then knitting directly in pattern, without any short row shaping to form a sleeve cap. I am afraid that that won’t work here as the shoulders are definitely not dropped. So maybe I will need to angle the first pattern stripe or two with some short rows, to bring down the shoulders? I’m not sure yet how to solve this. But such is the fun of knitting. I like these creative fiddlings one must make to bring it all together, especially when one’s gauge is off, as mine is here.

Below you can see the back. I completely love these colours together, and note that they are outside of my usual palette, which is kind of fun.

I had an email from Loop this week (the lovely London yarn shop from which I bought this yarn kit). It contained the following workshop announcement: “Liz Baltesz will teach you to knit the Scout Shawl on 3 October. If you can knit and purl you can make this!” I had a good giggle over this. I gather I am not the only one that purchased the kit at first glance, having fallen hard for the shawl, and then had the daunting prospect of knitting it sink in. If I hadn’t already re-purposed the kit, I would likely take this course. Not because I couldn’t have figured it out myself (I know that I could) but because sometimes it is nice to have companionship on the journey and someone to pat you on the shoulder and say “there, there”. If any of you London-adjacent readers take the workshop, do let me know how it turns out.

Happy knitting, everyone!

Ursula Waistcoat

I am thrilled to be able to show you some photos of the waistcoat I knitted for Doug.

I am really pleased with how it turned out.  It fits!  (My measurements told me that it was going to fit; but we all know that, in knitting, measurements sometimes lie.)  Most important, Doug likes it too!

Those of you who follow this space will know that the waistcoat/vest was a very long-term project, something which percolated in the back of my mind for some years before I finally set my yarn to needles.  Most of that time was spent in trying to find a pattern that I liked and wanted to knit.  I had some parameters – Doug wanted it to button down the front, I wanted to try my hand at knitting a stranded garment and steeking, we both wanted it to be colourful and interesting and fun, and furthermore, because this (a steeked, stranded garment) was all new to me, I wanted it to feel achievable – with a small, controlled number of colours and a pattern that was cool but uncomplicated.  Try as I might, I could not find any vest patterns that I liked.

I kept coming back to Ursula [Ravelry link]; a very nice women’s cardigan pattern designed by Kate Davies. It had all of the features I wanted – a small, regular fair isle pattern that was easy to memorise, that was well-suited to colour exploration, and that looked intrinsically cool and pleasing. Most of all, the pattern was written by someone I trust to get the details right and to write them in a way which worked for me.  Having knitted several of Kate’s patterns previously, I knew that she could walk me through a process, even one which pushed against my comfort zone.

Of course, I had to do a bit of pattern tinkering to take a women’s cardigan and produce a man’s waistcoat.  I followed the pattern exactly for the size 48, until I got to the underarms.  Then I had to do lots of calculations.  I added some length to the garment, both above and below the armholes, and I made a V-neck.  I calculated and measured ad nauseum, to try and ensure that the slope of the decreases at the arm would work and that the shoulders would fit properly and lie nicely.  Although I would tweak a few things here and there if I were to do it again, I am happy with the results.

I used Shetland wool, which is amazingly easy to steek.  It is “sticky” and has great stitch definition.  This vest is knitted with Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift in the shades Shlomit (an undyed shade), Conifer, Raspberry, and Loganberry.

As I knitted this, I became more comfortable with stranded knitting.  There are lots of different techniques for stranding; I tried lots of them to see which worked best for me.  The one I ended up sticking to was holding the background yarn in my right hand and throwing it and holding the foreground yarn in my left-hand and picking it.  It eventually settled into a rhythm for me and I think it ended up with very neat stitchwork, with no pulling in and very even stitches.  There are no very long floats and so I let them be and did not bother to catch them. Here, Doug is wearing it inside out so that you can see the reverse side:

Why do I keep switching between the terms waistcoat and vest? I think as an American living in Britain, my mind keeps toggling between the two terms. The difference seems to be regional, as well as one of quality (with a waistcoat being more formal). I have blogged about this project a lot so I will try not to repeat myself too much in this post.  In case you are interested in some of the techniques, thought processes, or decisions involved, I have provided links below to some of the posts I’ve written previously which you might like or find useful.

Vests:

A baker’s dozen of men’s knitted vest patterns; this post from 2017 showcases 13 men’s vest patterns.  I ended up not choosing any of them, but it is a good compilation of interesting patterns.

Ursula waistcoat:

Brownie points; picking the colours, swatching, choosing the type of ribbing.  You can see that I had no idea what I was doing – I ordered more than twice the amount of yarn I would need.

Inauguration side effects; a humorous post about how changes in your stress levels is reflected in your stitchwork.

Knitting on instinct; this post goes into some details on shaping the armholes and neckline.

Steeking without tears; this post goes into a lot of detail on the process of steeking.  It detailed why and how I picked up the stitches for the ribbing before cutting the steeks, and how I plotted, with extreme precision, to ensure that the buttonholes and the ribbing and the pattern would all line up precisely (it is a bit OCD).

Buttons and lambs; about choosing buttons for this project.

“Holy Fair Isle Batsuit, Batman!”; another humorous post, about how the partially steeked vest looks like a toddler’s fair isle batsuit.

Some Kate Davies patterns which I have knitted and blogged about:

Treit

Highland Rogue Cowl

Capping off the year; the “peerie floors” hat

Treit

I’m really happy to have finished my Treit pullover.

Treit (Ravelry link) is a lovely design by Kate Davies. The original pattern design is cropped and slightly boxy and looks great as a layering piece over a blouse. I choose to knit it with a linen blend, so in my head it took on a summer tee vibe rather than an autumn layer vibe. (Which makes it terribly inconvenient that I have finished it in October instead of May!)

The yarn is a wool and linen blend by Karin Öberg, called Kalinka 21, which I purchased from Ginger Twist Studio. It is 55% linen and 45% wool, sportweight blend that comes in some fantastic, bright shades. (This one is called Lime.) A 100 gram skein has 350 metres; I bought 3 skeins but knitted this tee with only two skeins! That makes this tee a super bargain! And see how beautifully it takes lace:

As with all of Kate’s designs, the pattern is beautifully written and edited with a great eye for the finest detail. The lace pattern is really pretty. It is a super fast knit. It took me exactly 4 weeks to knit this – and then another 4 weeks in which it hung around in a pile somewhere waiting for me to take the half hour necessary to graft the underarm stitches and weave in the ends.

I made the following adjustments:

1. I made it longer. This one measures 13.5 inches from the hem to the underarm, which adds 3 inches to the length.

2. I added waist shaping. I put in three sets of paired decreases and increases to add some shape at the waist.

3. I added fewer decreases at the neckline. The pattern in this size called for 108 stitches for the neck ribbing; I thought that would bring the neckline in too far, so on the last set of decreases, I made fewer of them, bringing the number of stitches down to 120 for the neck ribbing.

4. I knitted it with negative ease. I was a little under gauge, so I knitted the size 41 to get 39 inches at the chest, which gives 3 inches of negative ease.

These adjustments give it a more curvy shape instead of a short and boxy shape.

While waiting for Doug to fiddle with camera settings, I threw on a cowl to keep warm and sat down with my knitting to knock out a row. Doug snapped a shot:

I realised that I was wearing a Kate Davies-designed tee with a Kate Davies-designed cowl (knitted in Kate Davies wool), while knitting another Kate Davies design. Do you sense a theme, here? (I blogged about the lovely cowl here.)

Wishing you a lovely weekend and some peaceful knitting!

Taking Stock

Taking stock of my WIPs (works in progress), that is. Taking stock of my life, or of life on earth, or of the crazy sauce that is politics these days, would take too long. And be rather depressing. Knitting is better.

I only have three projects in progress right now. I was going to say “on the needles” but one of them is in the finishing stage, so already off the needles.

TREIT

I finished knitting this little lace tee-shirt at least a month ago, I think. It is knitted with a lovely wool and linen blend yarn called Kalinka 21, in a gorgeous, sunny, grassy green.

I have only three things that have still to be done with this one. First, I need to graft the sleeve stitches at the underarms:

Second, I have a few ends to weave in:

And third, it needs a good blocking.

If that is all that remains to be done, why haven’t I done it? First, I hate grafting and insist that it can only be done in full morning light. I have been working on the weekends again, and the weather has been often cloudy and rainy, so there has been no opportunity to take advantage of clear, morning light. Second, I finished knitting it just as the summer ended and the autumn weather set in. What motivation do I have to finish a summery linen tee at the beginning of autumn? I can’t even use the winter holiday in sunny locale excuse, because well…Covid. I’m clearly stuck in England for the foreseeable future. Third, I am lazy. Enough said.

URSULA

In my last post, I talked about having swatched for a vest for Doug, using the Ursula pattern (Ravelry link) by Kate Davies. This is a women’s cardigan pattern but I am trying to be creative and transform it into a men’s waistcoat. It will be my first steeked garment, so I am imagining all sorts of anxiety to come as I take up the scissors to cut my knitting. But, for now, it is a rather straightforward project. Here is exactly two weeks worth of knitting progress:

Today, I had Doug try it on for the first time, and it fits. Whew! I am terribly slow at stranded knitting, however. At the moment it is taking me 18 minutes per row, which amounts to 3 hours per colour pattern. I am hoping to improve on my speed a bit, but the days of my super fast knitting have gone. This will clearly not be a quick knit. But see how pretty it is?

By the way, Treit is a Kate Davies pattern, too, so I seem to be on a bit of a Kate thing at the moment. I have also joined her latest club so I am currently waking up to a new design by her every Friday morning. Chances are this will result in another Kate project on the needles before long. (Anyone else enjoying the new club?)

KOKO

Remember this?

It is an ingenious three-dimensional knitting pattern designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, which I am knitting in three luscious shades of Northiam by Kettle Yarn Co. This is what it looks like unblocked, but rest assured, when it is blocked it will undergo a transformation and knock your socks off.

I have only knitted about 4inches/10cm since the last time I showed it on the blog, some months ago now, so this is clearly going to be one of those very-long-in-the-making shawl projects which I sometimes undertake. They take forever to knit because I can’t stay monogamous to them, but the end project is worth it (like this or this).

I am looking around for a new project to cast on, so that I have enough variety in my WIPs to keep me interested. What’s next? Well, Doug and I have been walking a lot and it is getting colder outside, so mittens and hats are appealing at the moment. How are your WIPs going? Does this autumn air make you want to cast on? (And for those in the Southern Hemisphere, soak up some sun for me. If I was there with you, I’d be wearing my Treit right now!)

Highland Rogue Cowl

In England we have four seasons; sometimes all in the same day.  Today we have had a bit of everything – sun, clouds, wind, rain, even hail.  It was a perfect day to nestle into the cozy warmth of my new cowl.

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This is the Highland Rogue cowl, designed by Kate Davies, and knitted with Kate’s 100% wool sportweight yarn, Buachaille.  I love this yarn (I used it to knit three pairs of mitts, which you can see here, here, and here).  It is a lovely, plump yarn that takes beautifully to both colourwork and texture, and it feels great on the hand.

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I have written a few posts about this cowl; it has been on my needles since September.  The pattern is not an easy one to “read” on the needles; I had to pay attention to the pattern on every row.  This is odd given that it is only a 6-row repeat.  Nonetheless, I repeated the pattern in my head over and over again while knitting this.  (Perhaps this has more to say about my attention span than the pattern?)  While this meant it was not mindless knitting, you can see that the resulting texture is simply gorgeous:

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I have used this lovely orange shade called Highland Coo.  It is a cool orange, with no yellow tones, and a strong, rich hue that looks good in sun and shade.

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I especially like the way it looks against the blues and bold patterns of my Sofi cardigan (which is blogged here).  These photos were taken today in Henley-on-Thames, which was a riot of blues, purples, and greens, all of which set off this pop of orange. I work and shop in Henley, so I am here nearly every day, and I am still amazed at what a lovely town it is.

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I highly recommend this pattern.  If you can manage it, try to knit it with the Buachaille – you won’t regret it!

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I finished knitting this a few weeks ago, but couldn’t get it photographed until today.  I am glad I waited, as it has been picture perfect (despite the hail).  The bluebells are out in England at the moment, as is the wisteria, and everything is bursting with colour.

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It’s a long weekend here, and I’ve got something new on the needles.  Good knitting, everyone!

Real sweaters. Real people.

We are in Vancouver for the holidays.  On Christmas Eve, Doug always cooks a whole salmon.  We are into tradition.  Today we woke up early to go to Granville Island to buy a salmon at the market.  The Granville Island markets are fabulous; if you haven’t been, you should put it on your wish list.  They are also always crowded, a lovely, bustling, market full of happy people, fantastic food, and even more happy people.  This morning, December 23rd, they were especially crowded.  As I was pushing my way through a mass of people, I spotted something:  a woman wearing a hand-knitted hat designed by Kate Davies.

I stopped and asked her “Is that a Kate Davies hat you are wearing?”  “Yes,” she said, “And I am wearing a Kate Davies sweater as well.”  This started a nice conversation with Julie, a fellow Kate Davies fan.  She unzipped her coat to show me her sweater and politely didn’t call me weird when I asked to photograph her for the blog.  Here is Julie, wearing her Bunnet (Stranded) hat from Buachaille: At Home in the Highlands, and her Keith Moon sweater from Yokes.

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Julie pointed out that she had only put in one contrast colour in her Keith Moon, as she was using stash yarn.  I think she looks fantastic and the colour and fit is perfect.  Julie, like me, has joined Kate’s Inspired by Islay club, and is hoping to get Kate’s new book for Christmas this year.  (I know its under my tree, because I ordered it and wrapped it up myself with a “For Kelly” tag.)

Happy holidays everyone!

Spring green mitts

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I am now back in England and we had a beautiful hour or two of sun this afternoon (!) in which to take some photos of my new mitts.  These are the mitts which I was knitting last week while in South Africa communing with elephants.

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This is the pattern Wedgewood Mitts, designed by me.  I designed them to play around with a lovely shipment of Kate Davies’ new yarn, Buachaille.  The original pair, made for Leah, was in a very pretty mid-blue with white edging.  Just before leaving for Johannesburg, I tossed a skein of this lovely spring green, called Yaffle, and the remaining white from the first pair of mitts, into my suitcase.

I made a few small modifications from my original pattern.  Here is what I did:

  1. Cast on an extra 4 stitches (48)
  2. Worked an extra two rows of corrugated ribbing
  3. Decreased 4 stitches after ribbing
  4. Worked an extra 2 rows before starting gusset
  5. Worked three rows less before adding white edging

Basically, this added 4 stitches just to the cuff, to make the cuff a tiny bit more roomy.  I also made the cuff portion of the mitt slightly longer, while making the finger portion of the mitt slightly shorter.

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I am very happy with how they worked out, and am especially charmed with the combination of this spring green and the white (Yaffle and Ptarmigan in Buachaille-speak).  Obviously, I am not the only one to think so.  I had finished the first mitt and cast on for the second when I noticed that Kate Davies had designed a new hat for release at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival this weekend:

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© Kate Davies Designs

 

I absolutely love this design, which was inspired by a collection of Hornsea pottery designed by John Clappison in the 1960s; go read Kate’s post here.  Sadly, I cannot be at the festivities in Edinburgh this weekend, but I did try to alleviate my misery by ordering a kit to make this hat!  Just think how pretty it will look with the mitts.

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Happy Sunday everyone!

 

 

Wedgewood Mitts

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Happy New Year!  I hope that everyone is off to a good start for a great year!  I hate making New Year’s Resolutions because they rarely stick.  So, this time, I’ve made mine exceedingly simple:  Move more!  Procrastinate less!

For knitting resolutions, I want to experiment and explore and knit more things that Emma and I have designed.  So, on that note, and serendipitously checking the procrastinate less box, I bring you a free pattern here; my first design of the year.

Wedgewood Mitts by Kelly Sloan

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Yarn: Buachaille, 100% wool yarn by Kate Davies Designs, 35 grams of MC and 15 grams of CC; two skeins should (just) make two pairs of mittens if you reverse the main and contrast colours for the second pair.

In the photos, I have used Between Weathers (mid-blue) for the MC, and Ptarmigan (natural white) for the CC. This combination reminded me of Wedgewood china, thus the name of the pattern.

Gauge: 24×32 in stockinette, 28×32 (unblocked and unstretched) in corrugated ribbing

Needle: US 3 or size to obtain gauge

Notes on size and gauge: This pattern gives one size only (7.25” width) but can easily be adjusted to fit your hand. You can change the mitt size by changing the needle size, or you can adjust the number of stitches. The stitches must be a multiple of 4. (If you adjust the stitch number, then in Row 1 of the thumb gusset, knit half the stitches before placing the first marker.)   Knitters will also vary quite a bit on how tight their corrugated ribbing is compared to their stockinette, so my advice is to treat your first mitt as a gauge swatch: knit the cuff, and then try it on. If it is too tight, you can rip it out and start again with a larger needle size or simply cast on more stitches (in multiples of 4). Depending on the contrast between your stockinette gauge and your corrugated ribbing, you may need to decrease or increase some stitches for the body of the mitt: again, trying it on is always the best policy.

There is no left and right; both mitts are the same.

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Cuff: 

Using CC cast on 44 stitches, using the cast on method of your choice.  Join in the round and purl 2 rows.

Knit 14 rows in corrugated ribbing:  *K2 with MC, P2 with CC*, repeat to end

Next  row: With CC, knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches

With CC, purl 2 rows.  Break yarn.

Body:

With MC, knit  4 rows.

Begin thumb gusset:

Row 1: K22, pm, m1, pm, knit to end

Rows 2 and 3:  Knit

Row 4 (increase row):  K to marker, sm, m1, k to marker, m1, sm, knit to end

Repeat rows 2-4 until there are 13 stitches between the markers, then knit 2 rows.

Next row: Knit, transferring the 13 stitches between markers onto waste yarn.

Knit 15 rows.  Break yarn.

With CC, knit one row, purl two rows, and cast-off purl-wise.

Thumb: 

Transfer the 13 stitches from waste yarn back to needles. Rejoin MC and join in the round, picking up 2 stitches in the thumb gap. Be sure to place a marker beginning the start of the round.

Knit 4 rows. Break yarn.

With CC, knit 1 row, purl 2 rows, and bind off purl-wise.

Finishing: With a darning needle, weave in ends.  Wet block.

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Abbreviations:

CC – contrasting colour

K – knit

m1 – make 1 (Insert the left needle from front to back into the horizontal strand between the two stitches: Knit the stitch through the back loop.)

MC – main colour

P – purl

pm – place marker

sm – slip marker

 

 

Cold comfort

Today an icy wind blew across the UK, bringing snow flurries and gale winds and cold.  Leah bounded down the stairs this morning wearing not one, but two, hand knits.  Be still, my knitter’s heart!

IMG_6176I immediately rushed her out the door to take photos. In the freezing cold.   Even before breakfast.  (My family are amazingly tolerant of my blogging demands.)  She is wearing the lovely February scarf which I just finished knitting last week.  I had actually fretted that I finished it too late in the season to get any wear this winter, but the weather accomodated me.

She is also wearing the wonderfully cozy ‘owls’ sweater, designed by Kate Davies.  I made this sweater for Leah four years ago this month, in March 2009, when she was 14 years old.  It has been worn countless times.  Leah has grown since I made it, and it is now a bit snug and the sleeves are a good 3 inches too short, but she still says it’s the best thing to wear on a cold day.  Go ahead cold, do your worst!

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Designers behaving badly

Does your opinion of the designer influence whether you buy the pattern?  In my case, the answer is definitely yes. I have thought about this question a number of times over the last few years, and recent events have brought it to the forefront again.

A few years ago, I heard of a knitting retreat being organized in a lovely hotel in a beautiful coastal area of the UK.  Three days of knitting classes, plus good meals, in a resort hotel, with the added bonus of beach walks and other knitters; it sounded wonderful.  It was very expensive, however; the cost included board and all meals and also a not insubstantial fee for the knitting classes.  There was to be 15 hours of classes over two and a half days.  What clinched the deal for me was the fact that a very famous knitting designer and blogger was to be an instructor there, and I would have 6 hours of classes with her.  I was something of a fan girl.  I had read her blog for years and thought it clever and fun.  I thought her designs were pretty and well-engineered.  Quite a few of them were in my queue, just waiting for the right yarn or the right opportunity to knit.  I sent in my (hefty) check and signed up.

On the first morning of class with said designer (who we will call Designer X) she handed out a ball of yarn and one of her patterns to the class, and said “OK, let’s knit this.”  She talked for about ten minutes, and then we all sat and knit.  For three hours.  She provided no instruction, but said “Here is an empty seat beside me; if you have any problems, come sit here and I will sort you out.”  On the second morning, when we had another three hour long class with her, she said “Isn’t it nice to have a class where there is no teaching?  I always think we get a little tired of being taught at all the time.”  We were flabbergasted.  We were also all polite people, whose mothers had taught us manners, and none of us complained.  In retrospect, this was a big mistake.  We should have been more vocal (in a polite way, of course) about the class.  But, I must say we were all completely astounded  at her behavior and didn’t quite know how to act.  One woman had flown in from Canada just to attend this workshop; others had arrived from Ireland, and Belgium, and France, and from around the UK.  Each of us had paid a lot of money to be there.

Not only was her teaching non-existent, but Designer X also avoided socializing with the group.  We would all be sitting in the bar (a totally lovely bar overlooking the ocean) and gabbing and knitting and drinking, and she would sit across the room with her husband, generally avoiding us.  It was sad, and also perplexing.  There was another teacher at the workshop, and she was lovely.  She had prepared her classes, and was an interesting and engaging teacher.  I met many wonderful knitters there and had fun staying up with them late into the night, drinking wine and knitting away.  I enjoyed the hotel and the great food.  I walked on the beach.  But Designer X clearly cast a pall on the event.  I resented having paid money for her classes and thought she was an unpleasant person.

Afterwards, I tried in my head to come up with all sorts of excuses.  Maybe she was having a really bad week.  (We all have them.)  Maybe she wasn’t feeling well.  Maybe she was having family problems, or money problems, or legal problems.  After all, I had avidly read her blog for years, and thought she seemed like a great, amazingly cool person.  But, the truth is, I haven’t read her blog since that workshop, not even once.  And, I haven’t considered making any of her patterns.  I have occasionally wondered whether this makes me a petty person.  But really, I have only so much money to spend on patterns; I would rather that money goes to someone who I like than someone who  I don’t.

When discussing this with Doug, he said “There is no correlation between how nice someone is, and how good a designer they are.  They could be a brilliant designer and be a horrible person.”  But somehow, my image of their work is inextricably influenced by my image of them as a person.  Here is another example:  When I was a child I was a huge fan of musicals.  Guys and Dolls, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I loved them all.  My favorite of all time is Summer Stock, a completely ridiculous musical with Gene Kelly and Judy Garland that I love to bits.  Musical and dance devotees fell into two camps: Camp Fred Astaire and Camp Gene Kelly.  Oh, Fred was elegant, Fred was delightful, but he wasn’t Gene.  I was definitely a Gene fan girl.  As I got older, I read many accounts of how Fred Astaire was a completely lovely man, and also read many accounts of how Gene Kelly was a very difficult man, not well-liked by his co-stars.  Do I still like Gene Kelly musicals?  Yes.  But I find my opinion of them is always tempered by the fact that he wasn’t the dream boat I imagined.  Conversely, I love Fred’s musicals more now because he was such a nice guy.  Is this silly, or childish, or hypocritical?  Perhaps.   But I think it’s how people are.

A year after my knitting retreat fiasco, I enrolled for another half-day class with a knitting designer and blogger who I admired.  My first experience had made me apprehensive, but I needn’t have worried.  In retrospect I would have paid three times as much for this class.  Said blogger, who we will call Designer Y, was charming, erudite, respectful, a fabulous teacher, and nice as can be.  He was extremely knowledgeable, but also very humble.   I will buy Designer Y’s patterns, and in fact will even buy those that I have no intention of making, because he makes his living this way and I want to support designers whom I admire.

In my last post, I commented on Kate Davies, who felt that her Owls sweater had been copied by Debenhams, a major UK department store.  There was a huge amount of controversy regarding whether or not this constituted a case of copyright infringement or not.  I think the issue is very complicated and therefore am not at all surprised by the differing opinions on this case.  I was astonished however, by the vitriol of some of the comments made against Kate Davies on public forums, particularly on Ravelry.  One thread on Ravelry, devoted to this topic, was so nasty I could not believe it.  The amount of personal abuse flung at Kate was truly beyond belief.  One person, in particular,  really crossed the line, especially in reference to Kate’s disabilities following her stroke.  The moderators tried to black out a number of her responses to the thread, and eventually closed down and locked the entire thread.  This person, a young designer herself, who we shall call Designer Z, posted no fewer than 34 times to this thread (which was open less than two days), with each response becoming nastier and more personal.

Interestingly, I had first noticed  Designer Z a few months ago, when she posted a prototype of a gorgeous sweater on Ravelry.  It is a sweater that would look beautiful on Emma, and suit her very well, and it was interesting and different and stylish.  I was impressed.  I have been following the progress of this design as it has been put through the test knitting stage, and have discussed it at many points with Emma.  I certainly intended to knit it.  Not only that, but my eye was caught as well by two of her other designs.  She was clearly, in my estimation, a designer to watch.

But I can say unequivocably, that I will never knit anything she designs.  Not because she disagreed with Kate Davies on the issue of whether the Owls design was copied (because as I said, this was definitely a matter of interpretation, and a legal matter at that) but because of the sheer nastiness of her response.   Is this childish of me?  Perhaps.

I might add, that Kate Davies has reached an agreement with Debenhams (which entails them agreeing to disagree on the copying issue) but also entails Debenhams making a contribution to the charity Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland.  This group provides post-stroke recovery help, and was instrumental to Kate in her recovery. Kate’s report of the agreement can be found here; her polite and respectful discussion of this matter from start to finish is a definite contrast to that found elsewhere.

On that note, I think I shall make a bowl of popcorn and a gin and tonic and watch Top Hat.  Go, Team Fred!