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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    Did you see my little 5 minutes of fame in the latest Simply Knitting magazine?  

    They asked me a few months ago to provide answers to some of the questions they publish in the '5 minutes with...." spot every month.

    Here is my copy of the answers I submitted. They picked which answers they published of course but I was so chuffed to see any of my answers in the magazine

    What is your favourite knitting technique?

     At the moment, my favourite technique is the mosaic slip stitch colourwork. It’s a technique I came across at a Rowan knitting workshop a few years back but I never took it any further as I was concentrating on fair isle work at the time. I then came across it purely by accident (I’m blaming Google!) 6 months back. I was intrigued by the totally different charted instructions that were used and wanted to know how to go about creating my own designs rather than using the rather limited ones that were available on the internet. I was obsessed for weeks until I mastered the skill. Knitting in mosaic is really easy. Designing the mosaic patterns is rather more difficult, but great fun!

    Describe your design style

     It’s usually a case of yarn falling in my shopping basket because it feels nice and looks nice.

    At that point I usually have an inkling of what I want to make out of the yarn with ideas floating around in my head for a few days or weeks. I get inspiration from what I see whilst out and about,  interesting colour combinations and new fashions.  When I eventually start knitting it’s a matter of getting the calculator out alongside garment sizing charts or in the case of home things, the items I want to cover for example. Knitting a few tension / knitting stitch swatches is the next job to decide what needles I need to use and what knitting stitches I might incorporate into the work. I then just can’t wait to start! Working out the shaping and when to move on to new stitches etc is worked out as I go along. I do get very impatient and like to see my work progress as quickly as possible.I draw out my ideas on paper occasionally but there’s no substitute for trying them in real life! 

    Metal or wooden needles?

     I used metal needles all the time until a year ago and couldn’t see why I should use anything else. I treated myself to a set of bamboo ones, only because I felt I had to.  I only really use them if I find my yarn is slipping off the metal ones, or I’m being too noisy!

     What is your biggest knitting ambition?

     Since I started writing my own patterns (just a year ago) I have thought how lovely it would be for me to publish my own knitting pattern book. I have been amazed as to how far I have come in the past year, so I suppose anything is possible.

     Tell us your tips for knitting garments.

     Give your garments the professional finish otherwise you have just wasted a lot of time.

     I first learnt to knit in my teens but was never very happy with the finished result. I never felt they looked professional enough to be worn outside the house. It was down to the seams. My knitting was self taught and I naively thought that you had to do the seams the same way you did seams when sewing, with right sides together. It wasn’t until I picked up my needles again a few years back that I learnt how to create professional looking seams. There is no excuse for anyone these days, there is so much information on the internet, instructions and videos that cover every kind of seaming technique possible.

     Why do you particularly enjoy designing knitting patterns?

     I retired from my full time work in the IT world 2 years ago. I feel it’s important as you progress through later life to keep your mind active and to grow your brain in other dimensions. I enjoy the mathematically challenges pattern writing brings as well as seeing my ideas come to life.

    It was a chance to combine the skills I had already with my love of knitting. Pattern writing for me, is very much like the computer programs and tutorials I used to develop at work and so it was a natural progression for me. 

     What is your worst knitting habit?

     Knitting into the night, when the light isn’t so good just because I want to get to a certain point in my knitting before I go to bed. I then end up unraveling rows in the morning when I have scrutinised my work and found a mistake several rows back, oops! It’s never worth it but the temptation to carry on is just so strong!








  2. customisedweddingbolero

    This last week I received some lovely photos from one of my customers. She had asked for a custom design back in May 15, a knitted bolero for her wedding in October 15.  I thought today , it would be nice for me to explain a little about the process we went through. Mostly by sending photos and agreeing things via email, meant that we could complete the process without having to actually speak or meet with each other. I'm adamant that I double check things as I progress through my thinking and creative process. What I don't want at the end of the day is a customer who is upset at what I'm producing for her and is unable to tell me so. We need an open discussion between ourselves and that is what I endeavoured to do with this customer.

    Her 1st contact came in and she nicely explained that she wanted a bolero similar to one I had listed on Etsy.

    She loved the yarn it was knitted in but wanted more clarity about the colours she could choose from. I sent her some samples by post so she could feel the quality and more importantly check out the colour against the dress and the shoes she was thinking of buying. That part of the process was pretty straight forward and she chose a lovely soft silver grey which looked stunning on the day.


     She wanted the bolero altering in that she wanted the gap down the front widening so it showed off her lovely wedding dress. She even sent me a photo of the dress so I could appreciate what look she wanted.

    The one thing that I immediately noticed about the dress was the  feature low back and I felt that we could make of a feature of it even when it was covered by the bolero. I suggested that we did some lace detail down the back of the bolero and that perhaps the leaf detail on the original bolero was changed to something more appropriate, a simple flower perhaps.

    Once she had agreed what she wanted , then we set to work sending measurements to each other so we could agree them. My customer started by sending me a simple diagram (a lot simpler to explain than in words) of her measures. I sent a similar one back with more measurements on that we had agreed by email.



    I could then start the knitting, sending her photos along the way. These set of photos show the lace flower detail down the back , along the bottom and at the sleeve edge.


    And when I had nearly finished I sent her photos showing the measurements so she could check them against the earlier measures we had agreed.



     My customer seemed delighted with the finished result. So much so , she sent me photos of her special day.

    special day