design

New Pattern Release - Big Dotty

IMG_0104


ADD TO BASKET


I'm so pleased with Big Dotty. She's BIG! and cosy and I just love her.

It took all winter to get our fire installed so I've been a bit chilly and for months I've been hankering after a larger shawl as warm as a sweater. I was dreaming of something to wrap around my shoulders for an extra layer of warmth but stylish enough to wear while I'm out and about too. 

Anyhow, somewhere along the line I had a brainwave - I wanted texture and I already had a pattern I loved (Darling Dotty) - how about I knit it up with a heavier yarn for a super wintery wrap?

IMG_0209

I sat on the idea for a while, wondering which yarn I'd use. The image in my head was a natural stone colour, a rustic woolly layer. And of course, I wanted something that would work well with the texture. Not too slinky but not too furry either.

IMG_0146

Then, during my recent trip to the KAN knitting retreat in Napier, I found the perfect yarn. The mill I visited has a shop at the door and in there was a glorious, stone coloured, unprocessed, merino yarn. It was perfect! and a great price - so, I quickly grabbed eight balls and away I went.

It wasn't until afterwards that I realised how truly perfect my choice was. The yarn is from a range called Silver Lining - it's a beautiful muted range of colours created from the fibre of heritage merino sheep around New Zealand. 

Skeinz say it perfectly themselves:

"All around NZ are isolated small flocks of Merino sheep who have been cut off from the larger Merino populations due to geography. These flocks over the last 150 years have started developing their own unique characteristics & have become sub breeds in their own right. Hokonui, Arapawa, Stewart Island & Chatham Island Merino's are some of these Rare Breed Merino's.  Here at Skeinz we have been able to secure these very special fleeces from the fate of just vanishing among the greater Merino clip. They are all very fine micron of varying shades. We have lovingly blended these together to produce 4 natural shades & 5 heathered shades. We thought it was time that these Rare Breeds got out from under the general Merino cloud & got a chance to see their own Silver Lining."

IMG_0243

The colour chose is called "Clifton Stone" - it's a soft grey/beige from the fibre of Stewart Island Merino. Stewart Island is at the very bottom of New Zealand although the particular sheep for this yarn are a small flock of Stewart Island sheep that are being looked after in the South Island of New Zealand. 

Apparently many rare merino breeds around New Zealand have been feral for many decades. These sheep are descendants of merino sheep placed to provide meat for shipwrecked sailors or originally farmed in remote areas. Some sheep were simply left behind when people moved on and others missed being rounded up by the farmers that cared for them.

Stewart Island Merino - photo by Ron & Kath Gallagher

Sheep farming in Stewart Island was never a hugely successful venture. They were first  farmed in a large numbers in 1874 and apparently a number escaped, forming a feral population that developed into the current Stewart Island Merino breed.

Stewart Island sheep are relatively small, mostly black and often have a patch of white on the nose and between the eyes, with a white tip on their tails. The Rams have particularly fine horns. It's said that they're alert and aware of what's going on around them. The ewes are very good mothers, protective of their lambs and often act as a "look out" for strangers. Don't they sound pretty neat? I think so.

IMG_0078

So, my yarn is special and I'm really thrilled. 

Big Dotty is super warm, deliciously rustic, full of texture and made from the wool of heritage sheep. You'll need about 400g of DK yarn to make one too.


Happy knitting!!




Catch Up

IMG_8066

It's been a while since I popped in to touch base and chat about what I'm working on and I thought I'd tell you about some of the projects on my needles at the moment.

These three are all new designs. I can't seem to help myself cast them on. Two of these were spur of the moment knits, cast on when I should really have been working on the ginger sweater but fancied something small instead.

So far I've managed one sleeve of my gingerbread sweater - I've got a plan with myself to finish the whole thing by the end of August. Let's see if I can do it ... please feel free to give me a stern word if I don't ;)

IMG_8077


If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you'll have seen me start, knit and finish this glorious raspberry textured shawl last week. I was quite captivated with it - the pattern repeat is simple to remember and it's fun watching the shawl take shape as it's knitted from one side to the other. 

I've designed this (as yet nameless) shawl with scrummy merino/cashmere/nylon yarn dyed by my friend Andie at Midnight Yarns and she is busy dyeing up skeins of yarn to take to the upcoming KAN knitting retreat in Napier at the end of August. If you're lucky enough to be joining us for the weekend, you'll be able to buy some of her yarn to knit my shawl pattern which I'll release a few days beforehand. My shawl is knitted in her "raspberry sorbet" colourway and I gather she'll have that and many other lovely colours at KAN too.



You may have also caught a glimpse of my new hat pattern on social media too. At least, you'll have seen my hat before I decided it wasn't quite how I wanted it, ripped it back, rewrote the pattern and started again. It's true what they say, designers do an awful lot of unpicking so you don't have to!

I'm using a really lovely DK merino/possum yarn for my hat. It's an undyed yarn by Naturally called Amuri and it's 75% merino and 25% possum single spun yarn that has a rustic, dark halo from the possum. It looks almost felted, is super soft and knits like a dream. 

I'm aiming to get it knitted up quickly so I can publish the pattern and get some wear out of it while the weather is still cold. We're having an icy winter down here this year. It's absolutely freezing at the moment although I know that spring will be back before long (the first daffodil has popped up in our garden) so I'm making the most of my hats, shawls and sweaters while I can.

What's on your needles?


NEW PATTERN! Southern Shawl

Southern Shawl designed by Libby Jonson for Truly Myrtle. Pattern available on Ravelry.

It's been so hard to keep this design a secret. I've been feeling super excited about my Southern Shawl and it's taken all of my willpower not to tell you all about it and how thrilled I am with it!

When Helene from Happy Go Knitty asked me to design a shawl for her recent Shawl club I was very flattered but sooooo nervous! Her one requirement was that I use one skein of her silk/merino fingering yarn but all other design decisions were entirely mine. She even let me choose the colour of the yarn and I fell immediately in love with this soft, clear, grey.


Southern Shawl designed by Libby Jonson for Truly Myrtle. Pattern available on Ravelry.

I rather enjoyed working to a deadline. I spent a bit of time playing with the yarn and seeing how it behaved before I settled on the design. The yarn is simply glorious. It's silky smooth and soft to knit, holds together well, has a fantastic sheen and drapes beautifully. I'm very impressed.

Southern Shawl designed by Libby Jonson for Truly Myrtle. Pattern available on Ravelry.

Southern shawl has a very modern feel. It's an asymmetrical triangle and the body is alternating rows of stockinette and reverse stockinette so it looks almost identical on both sides.

I'm most excited by the border and adore the contrast of lace with the decreasing points. The border took a lot of fiddling to get just right and it makes me happy every time I look at it!

There's not tricky stitches in the pattern - lots of familiar knits and purls, yarn overs, decreases and increases. It's a good pattern for most levels - even adventurous beginners. As usual, I've included both written and charted instructions so you can knit exactly how you like :)

Southern Shawl designed by Libby Jonson for Truly Myrtle. Pattern available on Ravelry.

I wore my sample over the weekend and it worked both wrapped around my shoulders like I've worn it in the pattern photos and snuggled around my neck like a "scarf" as I like to wear my crescent shawls. In fact, it sits really nicely around my neck with the "seam" sitting neatly to one side and the lace border fanning out over my shoulder. It's the perfect length for the ends to fall to the front.

Happy knitting!


Substituting Yarn

Reminiscebutton

I thought it would be helpful to talk a little about substituting yarn today, especially because my latest design Reminisce uses yarn that is now (sadly) unavailable. I've been trying to design with yarn from my stash and so there will be cases where the yarn I've used or the colour I've chosen has been discontinued. You might find that this a reasonably common situation in any case, particularly where designers use yarn hand-dyed by indie dyers. The colourway they've chosen might be a one off, or the base they've used may have only been available for a short while.

Using yarn different to that specified in the pattern might be a terrifying prospect for some knitters, while others might be quite confident trying something else. In my efforts to use yarn in my stash, indie dyers or local yarn, I almost always substitute yarn when I'm using someone else's pattern and I thought I'd break my thought process down into a few steps to make it easier for you to give it a go too.

Reminisce_04_medium2
One of my test knitters Jen knitted a beautiful Reminisce hat with Red Riding Hood Yarns - Bon DK (100% Merino) Isn't the stitch definition gorgeous?

WHICH YARN HAS THE DESIGNER USED?

The first thing I do is look at the yarn used in the pattern and note its weight and composition. The yarn I used for the hat in my Reminisce pattern pictures was a  DK weight yarn hand-dyed by Skein Queen. I'm a big fan of natural fibres and this yarn was a blend of 40% superfine alpaca, 40% merino and 20% silk.

So, what does that mean?

It means that you'll want to find something similar in weight, so look for a DK or light worsted weight yarn (I'll talk about "gauge" shortly - but this is all you need to note at the moment). It also means that you'll want to find a fibre that behaves in a similar way to those in my blend if you want a similar result.

What's in my blend of yarn for Reminisce?

Alpaca is soft, has a bit of a sheen and slight halo so it gives a slightly etherial look to the hat and helps it look cosy.  It has quite a lot of drape if it isn't knitted too tightly but tends to sit stiff if it is. A pure alpaca yarn may droop over time as it is quite a heavy yarn compared with wool.

Merino is lightweight, elastic, and very soft so it has nice bounce, holds its shape and shows off your stitches clearly. 

Silk has lovely sheen and great drape so it gives your hat a luxurious look and falls beautifully. It has reasonable stitch definition but lies a bit flatter than animal fibres. Bear in mind it has little "memory" (it doesn't bounce back into shape) so a high proportion of silk in a yarn blend will have a tendency to sag.

One of my lovely test knitters Jen (see the photos) used a 100% merino for her Reminisce hat. You can see how it has slightly less drape than mine but her stitches are beautifully defined and the hat itself will feel gloriously soft to the touch.

If you're wanting to knit Reminisce, I suggest you find a yarn with a higher concentration of merino or another soft wool fibre such as Blue Faced Leicester rather than something with a higher percentage of alpaca, silk or possum for example. Too much alpaca or possum and you'd loose the stitch definition in the fuzz and it might get a bit too slouchy, too much silk and it'd flop out of shape. On the other hand, if you used a pure stiff, sticky or scratchy wool your hat could knit up a bit more rigid. More akin to a beanie than a slightly slouchy beret.

Swatching with your new yarn will tell you a lot about how it will behave. How does it hang? Does it sit stiff as a board? Or, is it fluid and soft? If you want a hat that slouches softly like mine you'll be looking for a little bit of drape in the fabric.

Reminisce Hat Pattern by Libby Jonson - A Truly Myrtle Design

WHAT IS THE SPECIFIED GAUGE?

Argh! Gauge! I know, I know! BUT if you want a hat that ends up one of the sizes included in the pattern you'll have to make sure your stitches and your rows are the same width and height as mine. When I designed Reminisce I knitted a large square and carefully measured the width and height of my stitches and used those measurements to work out how many stitches you'd have to cast on and how many rows you'd have to knit in order to make this hat. (Even if you're lucky enough to have some Skein Queen Elixir in your stash (the yarn I used) you might find that you're a looser or tigher knitter than me and you might have to change your needles for a larger or smaller size to get the same gauge as me.)

The gauge called for in Reminisce is 20 stitches and 30 rows over 10cm / 4inches - knitted in the round. I used 4mm / US 6 needles but you might find you need to go up or down a size to get gauge. If you're trying out a new yarn it's a great idea to knit a large swatch, about 6 inches square, making sure you knit it in the round rather than flat and soak and dry it flat (block it) before you measure it. Then, with a firm ruler, count how many stitches fit into 10cm / 4inches and how many rows. I like to count in the middle of my swatch rather than at the edges.

Ideally you'd try different needles and yarns until you get perfect stitch and row gauge. But if you are having trouble getting gauge and you have to choose between stitch and row gauge, make sure your stitch gauge is spot on. Too many stitches and your hat will fall off, too few and it'll be too tight. Row gauge is (slightly) more flexible but bear in mind that if your number of rows is much larger, your hat will turn out much longer than mine and if it's much shorter, it'll lose all it's slouch.

As a final point, you might find that different needle material makes a difference to your gauge. For this design I used wooden needles but you might like to try metal, carbon or resin if you're having trouble getting gauge. I've talked about this before on the blog and it's something that I'm experimenting with more often now. 

HOW MUCH YARN WILL I NEED?

When you're substituting yarn look for the length of yarn required rather than the weight. Some fibres are heavier than others so length is likely to be more accurate.

My Reminisce design uses between 138 - 166m / 151 - 182 yards depending on which size you knit. You'll want to find at least that much yarn and maybe a little more if you're winging it with your gauge measurements or if you don't plan to re-use the yarn you swatched with.

Reminisce_02_medium2
Jen's beautiful hat uses a New Zealand hand-dyed yarn by Red Riding Hood Yarns.

WHAT YARN HAVE OTHER PEOPLE USED?

Ravelry is an amazing resource and one of the features that I use the most is the ability to search through other projects of patterns I plan to knit. 

You'll find Reminisce on Ravelry and if you click on the "projects" link in the tabs at the top of the Ravelry page you can see other examples of Reminisce hats and how they turned out in different yarns. There is also a tab called "yarn ideas" and that will list the yarns other knitters have used for Reminisce already. 

When I discovered that the gorgeous yarn I used for Reminisce was no longer available, I contacted Debbie Orr, the talented dyer of Skein Queen yarns. She suggested that another of her yarns; Blissful Plump, a DK Blue Faced Leicester might be a good substitute. She described it as "not as drapey, a bit more woolly but would give good stitch definition". I think it sounds like it could work nicely and if you're interested in getting hold of some, Debbie will have a few skeins ready to go into her next shop update this week, on 5 February. Skein Queen is one of my favourite dyers and her colours are just divine - I can really recommend her!


I do hope these steps will be useful when you're deciding to substitute yarns. If you knit Reminisce I'd love it if you'd post your hat on Ravelry and indicate the yarn you used. It'd be interesting for me and super useful for other knitters. 

What do you consider when you're substituing yarns? Are your steps similar to mine or do you think about other factors too? Tell me in the comments, I'd love to hear your ideas.

If you'd like to try out my Reminisce hat pattern you can find it in my Ravelry shop here. You don't need to be a member of Ravelry to buy patterns.


New Pattern Available! Reminisce Hat

Reminisce Hat Pattern by Libby Jonson - A Truly Myrtle Design

I'm excited to let you know that my Reminisce Hat pattern has been published!

Reminisce is a gorgeous slightly-slouchy hat that is super flattering to wear. I blocked my hat in the photos over a dinner plater to emphasise the gentle beret shaping and I love pulling it down over my ears and off to one side.

This hat was designed with good friends from England in my mind. I really miss those lovely people and am so grateful for the wonderful years we spent together. It feels good to knit those feelings into something beautiful.

Here's how I describe my hat on the pattern:

"Picture a smouldering fire, good company, lively conversation and laughter late into the night. Reminisce celebrates dear friends and happy memories. Knitted in the round from the bottom up this deliciously textured hat is one to treasure, just like great times with darling people. Featuring an all over “block” pattern and gorgeous trailing cable panel, Reminisce warms our hearts and our heads. The “shallow slouch” shape, a blend between a slouchy hat and beret, is feminine & flattering. Reminisce is an entertaining knit including written & charted instructions. Ideal for experienced knitters and adventurous beginners."

Reminisce Hat - A Truly Myrtle Design by Libby Jonson

The cable panel, set against a deliciously textured background, really shows off beautiful yarn. It's not a tricky cable pattern and although I used a cable needle to knit mine, you could manage the cables without one. As is usual with my patterns, I've included both written and charted instructions where possible. When I'm knitting, I mostly prefer charted instructions. Have you used a chart before? Do you know how to read them?  If you don't, keep your eyes peeled here on the blog because I've got a lesson in chart reading coming very soon.

The body of my Reminisce hat is slightly detailed too. A simple "block" stitch turns the stockinette into something a bit more interesting. It's easy to knit and you'll find yourself automatically knitting that part after a couple of rows.

Reminisce Hat - A Truly Myrtle Design by Libby Jonson

I've used a soft DK blend for my hat. It's a single spun, hand-dyed, alpaca/merino/silk blend that shows the detail in the pattern well and drapes gently. Maybe you've got a skein of DK stashed away that'd be just perfect?

If you'd like to buy the pattern you can click here to be redirected to my ravelry shop. Or, click the "Reminisce" button in my sidebar. You don't need to be a member of ravelry to buy a pattern. Thank you!

I'm so looking forward to seeing your hats - if you've got a ravelry account be sure to pop pictures of you hat on your project page so I can find it!