Winter Rose Cowl

This pattern is now available. See Patterns for where you can purchase it.

Inspiration and information

I wanted a romantic soft alternative to a hat or scarf and a cowl is the best of both worlds. I adapted an older Orenburg flower lace pattern and the whole time I was thinking about winter flowers and roses in particular. Fortunately such things exist not just in my imagination but in reality as well. They are a delicate romantic beauty perfect for capturing in a lacework cowl.

Hellebores, the Winter Rose

I am also currently obsessed with beadwork and got to enjoy putting gold, silver and pearl beads all over this piece. Of course it can be knitted to suit your own style. No interest in beads, no problem. It is very flexible, you could do it in any colour with any colour bead or mixed beads as shown here. I don’t like saying that a piece is for a beginner or advanced or whatever. Anyone can knit anything. It just might take a little longer for some people.

multi coloured beads

Having said that, because it’s a relatively small piece though it’s a great place to start learning to use beads in your knitting or starting to use lacework. At the end of it you’ll have something beautiful to wear and a new skill. If you are already happy with beading and lacework then this is great shorter project that you can fit in between larger projects.

As always I think of what I’m doing during the knitting. The design process was longer than the knit. It is knittable while listening to audiobooks or watching TV. I recently read about someone who can knit while playing World of Warcraft which leaves me in awe. I have no idea how you do that. But I enjoyed finish HBO’s Perry Mason series while doing this!

More pictures!

The Beautiful Steph van Willigenburg wearing the Winter Rose cowl

Bad Hair Day Hat update

I know – I promised this pattern ages ago. The first test went swimmingly and then I ordered some lovely yarn to do a final for photos for the pattern. It was dispatched by seller on 4 September. It made it out the States fairly easily and has now been stuck in a Canadian warehouse since the 9th of September. Prior follow up said wait till mid October to follow up again.

So today was the day. I have followed up, Canada Post – please find my yarn, I’d really, really like it to come to me.

Bread and Roses Shawl

I have struggled with this shawl. The idea is clear as day in my head, but getting it out on paper and realized in yarn has been more challenging that I thought it would be. The good news is that the problems have been solved and it is now coming together beautifully. The rosebuds look gorgeous and the Czech seed beads are a lovely shade of pink/copper/gold. I’m a bit concerned about the ears of wheat, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

It is my suffrage shawl and it is not going to be ready in time for the NZ elections where one of two women will definitely be Prime Minister (17 October). Nor will it be ready for the British Columbia elections (24 October) but I’m pretty sure it will be ready for me to swish around my shoulders and watch the US elect a women Vice President. They might fall short again, it’s true. But the shawl is reminder to keep fighting for your rights not only for the most basic of things, enough money to buy food and shelter but also that we all deserve beauty, art and inspiration in our lives.

I hope when the pattern is published at the end of October 2020 that this shawl inspires other knitters or brings joy to anyone lucky enough to have it given to them as a gift.

Glorious Inspiration

Bread & Roses (Judy Collins)

I have loved this song and this specific version for as long as I can remember. As I got older the lyrics resonated more and more for me. If there was an anthem just for me and my philosophy on life, this would be a good place to start. It has never failed to move me and I wanted to pay tribute both to the beauty of the song but also the continuing cause of women’s suffrage.

Lawrence Textile Strike

As someone in fiber arts I’m also interested in the association the song has with the Lawrence Textile Strike where thousands of women mill workers took to the streets for better pay and working conditions. Although the strike captured public sympathy and drew attention to the cause, it ultimately was not successful in significantly improving the lot of mill workers. Yarn dyers, and fabric designers are still trying to work out how to make a living wage from fiber arts. Sweatshops in the developing world continue to have horrendous working conditions and give the developed world a false sense of the cost of clothing production. It’s still relevant.


As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts grey
Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread and roses, bread and roses

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women’s children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses

As we go marching, marching
Unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing
Their ancient call for bread
Smart art and love, and beauty
Their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for
But we fight for roses, too

As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
The rising of the women
Means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life’s glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses

Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Bread and roses, bread and roses!

Sweetheart Socks

I’m on the final leg of these before publishing the pattern. I have one sock done for the last test knit and one to go. I’m very happy with the final result and it’s been well worth the additional test knits to get rid of any kinks that are out there.

I love this colourway! This is what I designed these socks for, bold stripes with just a little bit of texture, but nothing that detracts from stripy goodness.

How to make a sock – part 3

Back on sock making. It’s Socktober and a great time to pick up a sock that’s been waiting for you to finish it or to start sock making. In part 2 I was talking about how to cast on your sock. Once you’ve got your sock joined in the round – making sure the yarn isn’t twisted you are ready to go.

The tops of socks need to be a little bit stretchy – they need to grab onto your leg and not just slide down in. So nearly every sock top is some form of rib. My two favourites are variations on a 2 x 2 rib. The most basic one is knit 2, then purl 2 for a set number of rows. My second favourite is a k2tbl (knit two stitches through the back of the loop) and then purl two.

The blue top in the picture above is a straight knit 2, purl 2 rib.

Different types of ribbing

Sock patterns can be great at telling you exactly what they are doing and others leave it a bit in the air. You can do a 1 x 1 rib, a 2 x 2 rib or a 3 x 3 rib. Much bigger and you aren’t going to get the stretch you want. But you could also do a 2 x 3 to mix it up a bit for example. If you don’t like the rib at the top of the pattern you are using – change it. There is nothing to stop a sock knitter from moving to a preferred rib.

How long should the rib go on for? Well it depends on sock length and also personal preference. If I am doing an ankle sock I will do 6 – 10 rib rounds. If I am doing a sock where the leg part is 7 – 9 inches (18 – 23 cm) then my preference is for 15 ribbed rounds. But you can get away with 10 or 20.

There are also special socks where you fold down the rib pattern – doubling what you would normally knit. It’s incredibly customizable!

Sock leg

Once you’ve done the top of your sock you are ready to start your leg pattern or just happily knit a vanilla sock (knit all stitches) giving you a stocking stitch sock. This is particularly effective with a self-striping yarn as it looks great and you didn’t have to think about it at all. You can see this below in a straight 2 x 2 rib going straight into a vanilla (stocking stitch) stripe.

In part four – sock heels!

To start from the beginning – click the link below

Autumn Beanie

Profile of teen wearing beanie

This gorgeous hat is really simple to knit with only a couple of cables to give it some interest. What really makes it stand out is the wool. It is from Koigu and is one of their 100% crossbreed sheep yarns. The variegated dye that I used is just amazing and all of the shades they have on offer are luscious. I wanted a tight to head beanie that could be used throughout the autumn and would make anyone feel great about the hat they’re wearing. Even better it is a super fast knit and can be happily completed while binge watching whatever your guilty pleasure is. I think this took me 2 or 3 episodes of Perry Mason from HBO was just an enjoyable knit. Available free from Ravelry and Lovecrafts. If you can’t access either site, drop me an email and I’ll send you a PDF.

Winter Rose Cowl – New things to learn

Another photo shoot. A triumph and a learning experience all at the same time. The beauteous Steph has been my model for this wonderful winter rose cowl that I finished recently. She graciously did the photos I requested from her so that I could publish them. As you can see she looks amazing and so does the cowl. Except it could look better. It is inside-out. As a knitter it never occurred to me that someone wouldn’t know the stocking stitch garter stitch game and be able to see which way was the correct way to wear it. So even though I have had to ask for new photos I feel like I learnt an important thing about how your item will be worn.

Even better news – pattern will be available as soon as I get the new photos!

Amateur photo shoot failure

half knitted tea towel in green and white

I made a great lamb pie which was meant to be an edible prop to go with a set of tea towels I am doing. I was thinking this was a win-win for us. We eat yummy lamb pie and get a good photo for the tea towel pattern. Of course, I ended up having to unpick a section of the tea towel and underestimated how long it would take. This has resulted in half-eaten lamb pie and half finished tea towel.

I am fairly sure that my photo editing skills (non existent) are not going to be able to put these two things together.

baked lamb pie with phyllo pastry on countertop half knitted tea towel in green and white

Beloved has suggested making more lamb pie when tea towel set is completed. He seems very enthusiastic about that solution to the problem.


Toast with Vegemite

I know – toast isn’t really cooking, but I’m addicted to it right now. A piece of toast with a cup of coffee in the french press or a lovely cup of tea. It’s heaven. I’ve been going to Kozak Eatery to get their amazing Ukrainian sourdough and I’ve been experimenting with toppings. No – not new ways with avocado and feta or tomatoes drizzled with something interesting. I have gone back to basics. Here are the results of one week of bread or toast for breakfast

  1. Bread and butter – delicious and wholesome
  2. Toast with butter and honey – OMG why don’t I eat this every day! This is amazing
  3. Toast with crunchy peanut butter – creamy goodness with a little crunch. Very filling
  4. Toast with butter and Vegemite – Divisive. I live in a mixed Vegemite/Marmite household. Each pot of dark brown yeast paste is jealously guarded. This is the perennial favourite. I will eat this regularly so it wasn’t as much of a revelation as the butter and honey toast. But…. I love my Vegemite. It is the winner of the week and I will defend the deliciousness of Vegemite to all and sundry.

New project

desk with teapot, wool and workbook

I have finished my winter rose jeweled cowl and I’m starting the scarf. Very exciting. I love the yarn I picked for this one – deep peacock green in a merino/silk blend. It’s going to be luxurious. Right now it is a theoretically work in progress. But those beads, scribbled notes and balls of wool will soon be something marvelous. I promise!