Christmas Special by Jean Greenhowe (give-away)

In this part of the world the days are becoming shorter and cooler – so I had the first thoughts about the next season.

I know that some knitters have already been working on their Christmas presents and decorations, which made me think of this cute booklet by Jean Greenhowe: Christmas Special.

I am giving away an unused copy – it’s very simple to participate: just leave a comment on this post by Saturday 30th August! The winner will be randomly selected. 

Christmas Special contains many knitted patterns for the Christmas season (but not only). Below is a gallery of images covering some of the patterns.

Christmas Special - cover

Christmas Special – cover

Mrs Claus

Mrs Claus

Christmas Stockings

Christmas Stockings

Tea Cosies

Tea Cosies

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

Robin on a log

Robin on a log

Robin Christmas decoration

Robin Christmas decoration

Cinderella - inside-out

Cinderella – inside-out



Best Friends

Best Friends

Which one is your favourite? Mine are Mrs Claus, the robin and the tea cosies.

Thank you for taking part and good luck!


Give-away: results!

I truly enjoyed reading about what each of us loves and learn about new things I didn’t know. It was an enriching experience, many thanks to all who participated and told their story!

The random number generator announced the result… see below! 

free online random number service at

Flora Poste: please, let me know your email, so we can discuss details for the sending of the present and your choice.

Have a wonderful weekend!


a quantum random number server (Australian National University)randomness test on a quantum random number server (Australian National University)

Give-away and thank-you’s

Give away: get your chance for a present :)

First things first – my long due thank you going to two really nice ladies who have made for interesting post reads since I joined the blog world: Heather of HKnits and Kate of fashion label Maison Bentley for their kind nominations, respectively for the Liebster Award and the Sunshine Award. I want to apologise for my ‘crappiness’ in not following up – I’m really bad at questions and answering them! I truly appreciated your nominations, it’s just me that I’m no good with those things… ♥

Next, it’s about the announced give away. How this works: post in the comments something about your favourite indie yarn. Alternatively, you can tell about your favourite item (book, vintage, etc). You can participate from any part of the world. Why that: it would be enriching to read stories from other people – by exchanging stories, we celebrate the beauty, variety and uniqueness of each product. And what are the prizes? There is a choice among the items you can find listed below. I tried to include different things, so hopefully the winner can choose the most suitable to her/his taste. Unfortunately, I had to exclude heavy/large ones because those could cause an issue with the shipment. Some of the items are new, others are used or vintage. Prize announcement: A random number generator will proclaim the winner, which will be announced on Saturday 25th May. Please post your comment by Saturday 25th 11am BST (here is a time converter to calculate your local time).

You can pick any one entry among all the bulletpoints listed below (for ease of choice, items have been grouped in categories: yarn, fabric, book, cute thing). Any question, please let me know.

there is a bit of variety to choose from, starting with local wools and then continuing with some summery colours and sock yarn.

      • Jamieson & Smith Natural Shetland, 100% wool, 3 x 50 gram balls, handwash only. Apparently it’s perfect for colourwork as it blooms nicely while blocking to help with any irregularities in tension; the yarn looks scrumptious and is dye free (colours are made by hand, sorting fleece according to shade).
        Jamieson and Smith, Natural Shetland
      • Shetland 2-ply 100% wool in shades purple, grey, midnight or flintstone blue, a fine 1/9nm yarn that gives ca. 900 metres per 100 grams. You can choose all in one colour or some of each shade. The yarn comes from cone and is oiled but blooms once hand-washed. The total weight will be circa 300 grams (approx. 6 yarn cakes) and will be winded up in yarn cakes, either single or multi-stranded to your choice. You can read more about this yarn in my previous post Shetland
        Shetland 2-ply
      • Wensleydale/Angora (75%/25%), DK weight, naturally processed by a small English producer; suitable for knitting and felting; 4 x 50 grams balls (approx. 120 yards/ball) in a natural creamy colour, handwash only
        Wensleydale-Angora indie English wool
      • Bluefaced Leicester wool, dyed by The Natural Dye Studio, 4-ply sock weight, 100 gram skein (360m/394yds), 2-3.5 mm needles, handwash
        Bluefaced Leicester wool, The Natural Dye Studio
      • Bluefaced Leicester wool mix (85% BFL/15% Donegal nep), dyed by Skein Queen, shade River Pebbles, 4-ply sock weight, 100 gram skein (400m/435yds), handwash
        Bluefaced Leicester wool, Skein Queen
      • Blue Face Leicester, DK worsted spun in Yorkshire, England from 100% British wool, 3 x 50 gram balls
        Blue Face Leicester, locally produced
      • Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, 55% wool/33% acrylic/12% cashmere, 50 grams/110 metres, 4mm / US 6 needles, 2 x 50 gram balls, happy shades of apple green and strawberry pink for a summer vibe
        Debbie Bliss Cashmerino
      • Louisa Harding Grace Hand Dyed, 2 x 50 grams skeins, 50% silk 50% wool, 109 yds/100m in each, 4 mm needles, with its silk component is a nice option for spring knitting
        Louisa Harding Grace Hand Dyed
      • Regia sock yarn, 75% wool/25%polyamide, machine washable, made in Italy, 3 x 100 gram balls, each balls is enough for a pair of socks.
        Regia sock yarn


      • set of two fabric cuts: spring flowers motif, approx. 110 cm width x 70 cm length, drapery light material, it would seem suitable for a summery sleeveless top + ethno style motif, approx. 110 cm width x 90 cm length, lightweight, suitable for example for a sleeveless shirt or a light informal skirt. You can also see them in the first picture of this post.
        set of 2 lightweight fabric cuts


      • Waking Up in Iceland by Paul Sullivan, an interesting account by an Englishman who visited Iceland for some months, easy to read, it offers a glimpse of the local culture, music and traditions (choice between new print copy or Kindle edition)
        Waking Up in Iceland
      • A World without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Gödel and Einstein by Palle Yourgrau, the book is rooted in a mathematical/logical background, I found it to be an interesting, although not exactly lightweight, account on two 20th-century key figures, who had sharp minds, peculiar characters and shared a singular friendship (new copy)
        A World Without Time - the forgotten legacy of Goedel and Einstein
      • Arthur: Roman Britain’s Last Champion by Beram Saklatvala, 1967 (vintage copy with some ageing)
        Arthur: Roman Britain's Last Champion
      • Cross Stitch Cards and Keepsakes by Jo Verso, containing personalised designs for birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, Christmas and various occasions (copy from my reference collection, that is used but in good condition)
        Cross Stitch Cards and Keepsakes
      • 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton (copy from my reference collection in very good condition) + 250 Patterns of Crocheting (a quirky vintage pocket paperback book with b/w illustrations, language is Chinese!)
        200 Crochet Blocks & 250 Patterns of Crocheting


      • sheep stamp Leaping Sheep Border, size ca. 13 x 3 cm, for those who love all things woolly this is a cute new rubber stamp, locally produced by Inca Stamp
        + two little silk pouches (13 x 11 cm)
        Leaping Sheep Border stamplittle silk poaches
      • set of two prints with a natural subject, size 18 x 24 cm each, made on fine paper near Florence, Italy
        Prints on fine paper, made in Italy

This is my first give-away… hopefully I did things ok. I look forward to reading your stories!

Colourwork: circular and flat knitting, my experience with it

A few days ago Martha of After Hours and I were commenting on our experiences with colourwork and she suggested to write about it – which I think it’s a good way to structure (and record) my thoughts about the subject. Thus, today’s post is about the different ways to knit stranded colourwork, that is like you would typically see in Fair Isle garments. I’ll be discussing the subject based on my self-taught experience, so excuse any inaccuracies you may come across.

Stranded colourwork for an argyle pattern An example of colourwork, here done with DPNs

There are three main types of needles that can be used: DPNs (double-pointed needles), SPNs (single-pointed needles) and circular needles (either fix or interchangeable). The following is my account of the experience with each type.

Generally, there are two main approaches to knitting stranded items:

  • colourwork knitted in the round (with DPNs or circular needles);
  • colourwork knitted in the flat (with SPNs).

Also, commonly in each row two colours are used; you could have more, although that would make things a bit more complicate. In any case, don’t feel discouraged, as my very first go at trying colourwork was with three colours – beginner’s mind or Shoshin. Going on a brief tangent, this is an interesting page on one of the secrets of learning anything: Empty Your Cup.

Needle types: circular (left), DPNs (centre), SPNs (right) Needle types: circular (left), DPNs (centre), SPNs (right)

Flat knitting with SPNs: from what I’ve been reading in books, I understand that this may have been more commonly used in the past than it is nowadays. Advantages: it saves you from having to reinforce/steek and gives you freedom in the size of the item, unlike with circular needles where you need to find a suitable circumference. Disadvantages: it may be considered, possibly with some reason, more fiddly and confusing: this because it’s not easy to change colours while purling and it also requires to swap sides when reading the chart (right and wrong side). Workarounds: to ease following the work I made an electronic pattern and, for each row, marked where it should begin to avoid mixing things up (and consequent frogging!); the same can be done on a paper chart. It gets slightly less fiddly if you can at least arrange to have the row with the simplest pattern running on the wrong side.

Knitting in the round with DPNs: it gives you freedom in the size of the garment, but it requires extra attention to avoid different marks and tension in the points of transition from one to the next needle (there are some workarounds but haven’t tried yet, apart from keeping a relatively tight tension when changing between needles); avoiding tension problems should be feasible with certain size yarns (sock weight and upwards) but not sure it would be easy with finer yarns (i.e. 2-ply like I’m using at the moment).

Knitting in the round with circular needles: they are perfect in that it’s all right side knitting, no headaches in reading the pattern and hardly any issues in tension/transitions; the only down sides are that you have to find a matching cable circumference, the steeking when making flat garments, and you have to fiddle with the top end, where there is a little bump due to the spiral knitting (workarounds exist for the latter one); I read that some people had issues with the join between needle and cable, that it didn’t allow for a smooth transition (the yarn got “stuck” at the join point) – though this may depend on the wool type and needle brand used, as they vary in their characteristics.

I don’t think I have an overall preference among those presented. Generally, I prefer to assess each time on a case by case basis, for example depending on the item size, yarn type and size, etc. For finer yarns, like I’ve been trying recently, I’d avoid the DPNs because they may result in variable tension and holes in the join points. If it’s a very small piece that I’m working on, circular needles may not be available in a suitable circumference size, so I’d switch to DPNs. In general, I am striving to try and use all of them in different projects, so that I can practise/experiment and also have alternative options.

There are many books, online tutorials, videos and blog posts. A good online introduction and tutorial is that by Theresa Vinson Stenersen: Color Stranding. If you’re unsure, I suggest starting with some reading or watching and at some point, just dive in.. results may not be optimal at first, but that’s only normal. The more we try and the easier each time it will be! As with each technique, a keen interest in the resulting items will help you get through the inevitable highs and lows of the learning process. I found it definitely worthwhile learning it.

Give-away: a chance to win                    Give-away coming up very soon!

A sneaky hint at the upcoming posts: first there will be some give-away, and then more on books for a crafts reference library… stay tuned!

Weldon's Encyclopedia of Needlework, 1940s                     New books in the crafts reference library