Stitch Shape and Bristol Fashion

Crafting in the West Country



Pattern Scavenging

I’m a dirty rotten pattern scavenger and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Making unique objects is a part of the joy of crafting, but, as with anything creative, creating something entirely novel is nigh on impossible. When I have made my own items without using a preexisting pattern as a base, I’ve still looked at quite a few to get my head around it. My rule is credit where credit is due. I will happily use another persons pattern and alter and change it, but at no point do I claim it to be entirely my own work.


This is my most recent completed project. Pretty cool isn’t it? It’s also a combination of two different patterns I used to create one striking and unique object. I’ve wanted to have a go at the Tree of Gondor chart for quite some time. I love the jumper the person who designed it put it on, but once I looked at the price of that pattern, I thought I’d have a little look to see if I could find something else to create a similar effect. (I don’t mind paying for patterns, but I think the current USD to GBP conversion rate has made some things a touch on the expensive side.) After a trawl through ravelry I found this pattern which was a fantastic match. Cables on both the sleeves, and around the neck which ended up matching nicely to the tops of the branches.


Last year, a friend mentioned she wanted a knitted viking helmet after seeing Anna Sui’s on the catwalk. I think she was hoping I’d make her one, but wasn’t expecting one. But I loved the idea, and in the next couple of months produced this for her. Perhaps a little less fashion forwards and a little more Hagar the Horrible, she was none the less over the moon with it. There was a part of me that wanted to keep it for myself. I honestly can’t remember what hat pattern I used, but I chose something in stocking stitch, with a stitch count that was divisible by 10 and 4 in order to work with the cables I had planned. How did I create the horns I hear you ask? Clanger heads knitted in chunky wool. Originally I used the adult pattern, but they were just too big, so I scaled it down and used one of the child clanger heads instead.


Quite some time ago I came across this gorgeous Totoro adaptation of this pattern. Being a student at the time and finding larger projects somewhat intimidating, I didn’t end up taking it on for roughly another 5 years. The original pattern just lends itself to being redesigned, the designer’s even written about some of her favorites other people have done. I’ve done two of my own versions of it, shamelessly adapting small colour work charts I found on google image searches. I’ve got a few more planned too.

Well, that’s it for today. See you soon!


Acceptable in the 80’s

I wish my hair was as big as hers.
I think Beverly Goldberg might be my spirit animal. I finished a project yesterday and it came out surprisingly 1980s. Although a lot of the fashion of that era is considered hilarious, if you are picky, there’s a lot of inspiration to be found.

Look at all of them! I’d be that happy if I had that many.
Gyles Brandreth is many things, politician, comedian, television personality and knit wear icon. He was known for his fantastic collection, he’s even released a book of patterns. Which I may have a copy of. Bright colours and designs that would appeal to children, this man managed to make knitwear his trademark. Apparently the volume of his collection was in four figures at one point. With the rise of the Christmas jumper and fashion choices of hipsters, the cheesy jumper is making a come back. Here’s a clip of him more recently revisiting the remnants of his old collection.

‘Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?’
Princess Diana was the epitome of ladylike grace and sartorial sophistication in the 80s. This was one garment that garnered attention. It wouldn’t be hard to take the basic sheep design and apply it to a more contemporary silhouette if you wanted to try something similar yourself. It could even be used to make cushions, scarves, anything you want really.  I’ve always had a weakness for sheep decoration, when rendered in knitting, doubly so.

I hope you’re singing the Dr Who theme tune in your head right now.
Traditionally when one thinks of Dr Who and knitting, the mind would instantly find itself thinking about the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, and his magnificent scarf. As a knitter though, it looks a rather boring and laborious task to take on. What would be a far more exciting task is the tank top of the Seventh Doctor (played by Sylvester McCoy). I’ve come across charts of the fair isle design before, and am quite tempted to give it a slightly more feminine twist. Anyone want to provide the matching umbrella?

Crisps or video games, everyone loves them!
Inspiration doesn’t just have to come from preexisting knitting. Retro video games are made to measure for this, don’t you think? You get a iconic design that’s pretty much already a knitting chart! Space Invaders seems like it would be a great place to start. The rows lend themselves to being adapted easily into different spaces, you can get away with only using two colours. If you’re a geeky knitter like me and haven’t dabbled with this idea, what’s wrong with you!?

If you don’t occasionally wander around humming the Mario theme tune, we probably can’t be friends.
Mario provides a huge range of choice for adapting into knitting. First of all, it’s got a lengthy history, so there’s a ton of different pixel versions of him to choose from. You’ve also got an opportunity to use the fact he’s animated to create something very kinetic. It’s not only Mario either, there’s a whole host of characters to involve and iconic backdrops. If you need a bit more guidance with adapting these thing, just do a  quick google. Loads of people have done it before.

So, thank you to the 1980s, I’ll see you all next week.

A Family Affair

Both my mother and grandmother were knitters My mum stopped because it now gives her RSI and Nana is legally blind. Here, I look at some of their creations we have stashed around the house! (Please excuse the excessive number of selfies. I don’t have a mannequin to model them on.)

Mark Kent_0011
Couldn’t cut Papa Sheep out, just because of his facial expression!

First up we have this amazing batwing creation of my mums! All of her knits on this list are from the 1980s, so why not start with the most 80s of them all?

Na na na na na na na na BATWING!

She seemed to have been very keen on these kinds of cream colours around then. It was the first thing she knitted on big needles. She got the pattern free in a magazine, but doesn’t remember much more because the 80s was so long ago.

I know my face looks unimpressed, but I actually love it!

Next up, we have this rockin’ red creation, once again from mama sheep. She actually gave me this one a few years ago, and many people comment on how well it suits me. It’s a little moth eaten, but will probably be quite wearable once I get around to giving it a bit of TLC.

Close up of yoke

I remember my mum telling me about this independently of showing me. She told me that it was so dull to knit the body, and the feature was the lace yoke.

Disclaimer, me modeling, not grandpa.

This is my absolute favorite on this list. Once again it needs a little TLC, but is also the most striking and has the most interesting story behind it. Sadly, it is the only creation by Nana Sheep on this list, but I will endeavor to find more of her creations to showcase next time I visit.

Check out that fair isle!

She made it in the 1950s for my granddad. It was a post war country and resources were scarce. There are elements where the colours change because she ran out of wool and couldn’t source the same shade precisely. It’s amazing, I love it and I wish it didn’t bunch weirdly on me where it was designed for a mans chest.

I remember Papa Sheep wearing this when I was little and thinking that it was made by sewing lots of squares together.

Another of Mama Sheep’s creations next, made for Papa Sheep. She made it around the time they got married, and from what I gather it was a bit of a dare. He didn’t quite believe she could create such a master piece. Having discovered the pattern book while going through a pile of crafting literature, I decided to make myself the same jumper in different colours. One of my great unfinished projects. (To be fair, I put the pattern away and couldn’t find it again for 6 months.)

I feel some Back to the Future reference may have worked here.

Finally, we have another gifted to me by my mother. It’s just so 1980s, especially the sleeves. It looks much better once it’s on then you think it will and I know she was disappointed with the neck line, but I reckon I can rock it.

The buttons on the back are super sweet.

She thinks it was made from a thermal wool, not sure how that works with lace knitting, but hey ho.

There is so much more ‘archived’, I’m I’ll post more.

Lights! Camera! Knitting!

Inspiration for making something can come from all sorts of places, and one of the ones I am most conscious of using myself is film. I love the costumes, when ever I watch a period drama, I always want to make a dress afterwards. Here are a handful of iconic knits from the world of film.

Tom Hanks – Castaway

I love Tom Hanks. Anyone who knows me will tell you, he is my favorite living actor. If a film is ever made of my life, I want him to play me. (I know, I’m a 20something year old woman, but this man can do no wrong in my eyes.)

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Shame it got ruined by the ocean.
Can you imagine my excitement the first time I saw Castaway, before the floods of tears over the loss of Wilson, when I saw him in this masterful creation? Fair isle, cables and Tom Hanks all in one place! Plus, it’s not the only knitting in the film. Here are two more jumpers (and Helen Hunt).

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I like to think she’s thinking ‘Yey! Jumpers!’
Marilyn Monroe

One day I watched a documentary about the wonderful Marilyn and in it was a shot of her wearing a beautiful cardigan. I was in love.

Diamonds are a girls best friend in this fair isle pattern.
After much Googling, I finally managed to find the right phrase to find a collection of images that would allow me to really study it. This is the only one on the list I’ve actually made. I found an old Starsky and Hutch pattern, researched the unusual stitch and drew out the fair isle element. After a bit of maths and a lot of time, I eventually created something very similar. It’s not perfect, far from, but I am so proud of what I achieved. A whole post devoted to this one will appear in the future.

Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

There is plenty to get inspired by in this franchise, but the cowl worn by Katniss in the opening scene of the second film seems to really have caught the online crafting community in particular.

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It’s so cold she’s wearing it inside.
It’s hard to grab decent images of this creation, especially with the naturalistic camera work and dramatic lighting. If I was going to have a go, I’d try to be inspired by it rather than trying to replicate. I love the shape and colour, but I’d probably make the neck a little lower and see how many styles of cables I could include.

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Much easier to get shots of the back.
Mark Darcy – Bridget Jones’s Diary

The original ‘cheesey Christmas jumper’ in my opinion. In the past few years these garments have become a trendy new tradition which I blame on Colin Firth’s character in this classic rom com.

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It’s only a jumper Bridget.
By today’s standard, it’s actually embarrassingly tame. We see ones that light up, play music, have doors that open as an advent calendar and even animated creations. But back in 2001, this was so unfashionable it made Ms Jones question his suitability to be her partner. Little did she know he was actually incredibly fashion forwards.

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Close up, it’s really not a worthy offering by modern standards.
So many more to write about, another time though.

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