Sandra's Designing Blog

This is an exclusive area of my web site where you can find out more about my knitted designs, what inspires me, how I work and what I like (and don't like) to design. 
 
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  1. I'm taking a little break from designing to knit myself this lovely stranded knit Bifurca vest by the designer Teti Lutsak.


    For the tops I have designed and knit for myself I have concentrated on mastering classic techniques and precise construction, following on from my sewing experiences. However, now I'm at a stage where I want to experiment with  creating different shapes and using different construction methods for my knits. 
     
    This top, with a mixture of top down circular knitting, raglan shaping from the neck centre points, short row shaping to define the shape under the armholes and picking up stitches to work on for the bottom rib has given me a lot of chances to learn a different approach.  It's been fun too!
      
    Hopefully I can take some of these ideas forward in some new designs for you in the future. 
    In the meantime, lets look back..........

    Above are 4 of my "seamed" patterns.

    Having been a sewer all my life when I started knitting, I took the traditional approach and created seperate pieces of a garment and sewed them together.
    I knew no better. 

    This method has been the cornerstone of garment construction for centuries. I do think that seamed garments often have better structure, especially in areas that require reinforcement, such as shoulders. Side seams also help with the drape of the garment so it hangs well.

    Yet one of my first designs - Lois created 8 years ago didn't have any seams! I felt I had hit on something rather special, a way that knitters could purely concentrate on the lace knitting and not have to do any shaping of the fabric (which can be quite complicated with lace knits). The finished rectangles would not be seamed but placed on top of each other and sewn in place, no bulky seams. 

    So I came up with the idea, but before I set to work knitting I had to make sure this concept idea worked. I found my notes the other day and thought I'd write them up for you. Basically I did this for my size and with a bit of clever maths scaled the measurements up and down for the various sizes. Phew.
     

    Materials Needed:

    • Fabric (2 long rectangles)
    • Scissors
    • Sewing machine or needle and thread
    • Measuring tape
    • Pins
    • Chalk or fabric marker

    Steps:

    1. Measure and Cut Fabric:

      • Measure your desired length from your shoulder to where you want the top to end.
      • Cut two long rectangles of fabric based on this length. The width of each rectangle should be enough to cover half your bust plus some extra inches for seam allowance and ease. The length should be double the desired length of the top plus additional length for the crossover and going over the shoulders.
    2. Position the Fabric:

      • Place one rectangle over one shoulder, drape it across the front of your body, and across the shoulder to the back
      • Repeat with the second rectangle on the other shoulder, crossing it over the first rectangle at the front and back.
    3. Adjust the Crossovers:

      • Adjust the fabric so that it fits comfortably across your shoulders, chest and back. The cross at the front and the cross at the back should be positioned to your liking.
      • Use pins to hold the rectangles in place where they cross.
    4. Pin and Sew Side Seams:

      • Once you have the fabric positioned correctly, pin the sides together where the rectangles overlap under the arms.
      • Sew the side seams from the armholes down to the hem.

    Both modern knitting with unusual shapes & construction and knitting with seams offer unique benefits and appeal to different facets of a knitter's creativity. Whether you’re drawn to the structured elegance of traditional seamed garments or the more freeform innovation of modern designs, there's a wealth of techniques to explore and master. Embrace the best of both worlds, and let your knitting journey be as varied and rich as the craft itself.  Just keep learning & creating.

    Happy knitting!

    Sandra

     
     
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  2. As the buds begin to blossom and the chill of winter fades, there's no better time to delve into sustainable knitting. We can create beautiful, eco-friendly knitted accessories that not only enhance our wardrobe but also honor the environment. Let's explore how to knit sustainably, with a focus on green practices, springtime inspiration, and the importance of supporting local farms and artisans.

    The Essence of Sustainable Knitting

    Sustainable knitting goes beyond merely choosing eco-friendly yarns. It encompasses the entire process of creating knitted pieces with mindfulness towards the environment, ethical sourcing, and community support. By making conscious choices about the materials we use and the way we knit, we can significantly reduce our ecological footprint.

    Spring-Inspired Knitted Accessories

    Spring brings a breath of fresh air and a burst of colors. Reflect this in your knitted accessories by incorporating light, airy designs and vibrant hues.

    1. Floral Hats & Gloves: Add a touch of spring with knitted hats & gloves adorned with floral patterns or embellishments. Use pastel colors to mirror the blooming flowers.

    Pinnate Gloves Kit - Now available in West Yorkshire Spinners ColourLab DK Pear Green or Perfectly Plum.

    [Image enhanced via Artificial Intelligence (AI) - more discussion in a later blog post]

    Try out the Juanita Brioche hat pattern

    2.  Lightweight Shawls and Wraps: Perfect for cool spring evenings, shawls made from organic cotton or bamboo provide a soft, breathable layer.

    Some great wrap/shawl patterns in store

    3.  Eco-Friendly Tote Bags: Knit reusable market bags from sturdy hemp or cotton yarn. These bags are not only practical but also a stylish way to reduce plastic use.

    Try out the "This way up bag" pattern - sample knit in 100% cotton.

    Green Choices for Yarn

    • Organic and Natural Fibers: Opt for yarns made from organic wool, cotton, bamboo, or hemp. These fibers are grown without harmful pesticides and chemicals, making them safer for both the environment and your skin.
    • Recycled Yarns: Look for yarns made from recycled materials. These yarns give a second life to pre-used fabrics and reduce waste.
    Not only is this hat & gloves kit worked in recycled yarn. I obtained it from Stylecrafts mill just 5 minutes walk from my house., here in Yorkshire. 
    • Knit with Eco-Friendly Dyes: Choose yarns dyed with natural or low-impact dyes. These dyes minimize the release of harmful substances into the environment.
    Learn how to dye your own yarn from plants and weeds you find in the garden. Nettles, Ivy , Lichen, Dandelions, Golden Rod & Madder, like I did some years ago. (sorry my stock has sold out)
     

    Supporting Local Farms and Artisans

    Sustainable knitting also means fostering connections with local farms and artisans. By sourcing wool and yarns from local sheep and lambs, you support ethical farming practices and contribute to the local economy.

    1. Local Wool Farms: Purchase yarn from nearby farms where you can see the sustainable and humane treatment of sheep and lambs. This also reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting goods long distances.

    2. Artisan Markets and Fairs: Visit local markets to find unique, hand-dyed yarns and accessories. These artisans often use traditional methods and sustainable practices, ensuring high-quality and eco-friendly products.

    3. Farm Visits and Workshops: Participate in farm tours or knitting workshops offered by local farmers. These experiences provide insight into the process of wool production and the care of sheep, enriching your knitting journey.

    Sustainable knitting is a fulfilling and creative way to make a positive impact. By choosing eco-friendly materials, drawing inspiration from the beauty of spring, and supporting local communities, we can craft accessories that are not only beautiful but also kind to our planet.

    So as you pick up your needles this season, remember the story behind each skein of yarn and the hands that crafted it. Embrace the green of spring, cherish the wool from local sheep and lambs, and let your knitting be a testament to sustainable living.

    Happy knitting!

    Sandra