Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Friends and fellow podcast fans will know Wendy aka Silly Fru - host of the Sassy Pants Knitter podcast. If you follow Silly Fru you will know that she was recently diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia which she has named "Hairy Ballsack Leukemia"! Happily, that condition is now in remission but to get to that point she spent 8 weeks in hospital. I can't even begin to imagine how hard that was, nor the scale of the medical bills she's facing.

Lots of people have been showing their love and support for Silly Fru in whatever way they can. Heather of Highland Handmades and The Fiberista Files came up with 2 awesome yarn colourways and for each skein sold she donated the bulk of the profits to Fru to help with her expenses.  Both are glorious, but the black and rainbow yarn - named "Fruju" - has really caught the imagination of the knitting world. When I received my skein I just had to cast on right away.  I didn't want this glorious yarn to be hidden on my feet, so I decided to make it into a hat.

SillyFru inspired yarn by Highland Handmades. Photos by Heather Kinne

The pattern I came up with is below. If you do use and enjoy it, I only ask that you consider donating whatever you think it is worth to either Fru's fighting fund at Go Fund Me or any Leukemia or cancer charity of your choice.

View this pattern in pdf format

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional knitwear designer. I'm sure the pattern is flawed in many ways. I will try to help if you get into any difficulties and will publish any corrections here.

Fruju Hat

Fru Ju Hat

Materials - I used:

40g (approximately 170 yds / 156 metres)  of Fruju  (Sugar Maple Sock yarn by Highland Handmades – 75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon).           
Any Self-striping sock yarn would probably work well, too.

3 mm circular needle (US – try a size 3)

Stitch markers – one distinct one to mark the end of the round and 9 others to mark the end of each  pattern repeat (optional)

To fit a medium adult head (19” -22”) as a beanie or beret-style hat. 

Finished dimensions when blocked as a beret as shown:
27" / 68 cm at widest point.
18" / 46 cm around ribbed brim
9 " / 23 cm from brim to top of crown

I got 8 stitches and 11 rows to the inch on 3mm needles in the chevron pattern.

Knit 2 together
Slip, slip, knit.
Slip the next 2 stitches one at a time, as if to knit, from the left needle to the right. Insert the left needle into the fronts of the 2 slipped stitches and knit them together (1 stitch decreased)
through back of loops
Make 1 Left
Make a stitch by lifting the strand of yarn between the last and next stitch inserting your needle from the front, put the loop on your left hand needle and knit into the back of this new stitch (1 stitch increased)
Make 1 Right
Make a stitch by lifting the strand of yarn between the last and next stitch inserting your needle from the back, put the loop on your left hand needle and knit into the front  of this new stitch (1 stitch increased)
End of Row

Cast on
Cast on 140 sts using a stretchy method such as Long-Tail Cast on.  Join to knit in the round.  Place marker to show the beginning of the round.
(You could make yours larger or smaller by adding or subtracting multiples of 14 stitches)

Ribbing round:
* K1 tbl, P1   Rep from * to end of round

Repeat this round until your work measures 1 inch from cast on edge.

Work the following 2-round pattern for 8 inches for the amount of slouch shown):
Round 1:
* K2, ssk, K2tog, K4, M1R, K2, M1L, K2  rep from * to end of round

Round 2:
K to 1 st before end of round. Slip 1 st to right needle. Remove EOR marker. Move slipped st back to left needle. Replace marker.

Crown Decreases:
You may wish to switch to double-pointed needles when the number of stitches becomes small.
Round 1:
* ssk, ssk, K2tog, K2tog, K2,  M1R, K2, M1L, K2  rep from * to end of round  (120 sts)
Round 2:
K to 1 st before end of round. Slip 1 st to right needle. Remove EOR  marker. Move slipped st back to left needle. Replace marker.
Round 3:
*K1, ssk, K2tog, K3, M1R, K2, M1L, K2  rep from * to end of round
Round 4:
As round 2
Round 5:
As round 3
Round 6:
K to 2 sts before end of round. Slip 2 sts to right needle. Remove EOR marker. Move slipped sts back to left needle. Replace marker.
Round 7:
* ssk, ssk, K2tog, k2tog, K1, M1R, K2, M1L, K1  rep from * to end of round (100 sts)
Round 8:
As round 2
Round 9:
* K1, ssk, K2tog, K2, M1R, K2, M1L, K1  rep from * to end of round
Round 10:
As round 2
Round 11:
* K1, ssk, K2tog, K2, M1R, K2, M1L, K1  rep from * to end of round
Round 12:
As round 6
Round 13:
* ssk, ssk, K2tog, K2tog, M1R, K2, M1L  rep from * to end of round (80 sts)
Round 14:
As round 2
Round 15:
* K1, ssk, K2tog, K1, M1R, K2, M1L  rep from * to end of round
Round 16:
As round 2
Round 17:
* K1, ssk, K2tog, K3 * to end of round (60 sts)
Round 18:
As round 2
Round 19:
*ssk, K2tog, M1R, K2, M1L    rep from * to last 5 sts.  ssk, k2tog M1R, K1 (59 sts)
Round 20:
K1, M1L.  K to 1 st before end of round. Sl1 st to right needle. Remove marker. Move slipped st back to left needle. Replace marker (60 sts)
Round 21:
K1 *ssk, K2tog, K2    rep from *to end of round (40 sts)
Rounds 22, 23, 24:
K all sts
Round 25:
* K2tog, ssk,  rep from * to end of round (20 sts)
Round 26:
K all sts
Round 27:
* K1, K2 tog   rep from * to last 2 sts, K2 tog (13 sts)
Round 28:
* K2tog   rep from * to last st. K1  (7 sts)

Cut yarn and draw through all remaining stitches.  Darn in the ends. Block and enjoy!

Crown shot
You can see all sorts of SillyFru goodies on Instagram and Twitter - search for the hashtags #fightwithfru and #crushthesack

Monday, 10 February 2014


2014 has been the year of the knitalong for me, so far. It all started back in December when Ysolda Teague announced she was holding a mystery shawl knitalong, "Follow Your Arrow", which would allow you to choose to make either a one- or two-coloured shawl, with each clue giving you a further choice between two clues, either of which will work with whatever you chose previously. I signed up on the spot and waited very patiently for the first installment.  I was therefore very surprised to find myself full of excitement on the day the first clue was released. I was reading and re-reading the pattern and discussing it with like-minded people on Twitter and generally feeling like a schoolgirl who'd just spotted her crush in the street. Then I dashed home and pulled out my Leading Men Fiber Arts yarn that I'd been saving for something special.  I was delighted with both the pattern and yarn.   I have kept up with the clues and am ready for my clue 5 today.    I have found the whole process immensely enjoyable and would do it again at the drop of a hat. I am seriously considering making a second shawl from this pattern because how the different sections fit together is so ingenious I'd like to see how they play out in closer detail. I won't be posting any pics here until people have had a chance to enjoy the finished result for themselves but you could go and peek at my project page on Ravelry. I am going to feel rather bereft next Monday with no email from Ysolda to look forward to.

My Pemberley Tam
But that's not all. I had got the bug good and proper.  Next was the Fair-Isle-along set up by Nic from the  Yarns From the Plain podcast. Nic's idea here was to conquer Fair Isle once and for all.  I had knitted a couple of colourwork hats for the kids last year, but the results were a little hit and miss. So I joined in with this one hoping it would be the spur I needed to learn how to make my work look as neat as others'. With some reading up and with the help of Ravelry group members I have made a hat I am immensely proud of with even stitchwork, no pulling and no holes. The pattern was the Pemberley Tam by Lion Brand.   I have learned plenty.  Debbie Stoller's book "Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar: Go Beyond The Basics" was my first port of call and I learned how important it is to be consistent in how you carry the spare yarn at the back of your work.  Trying this out on a swatch was a huge eye-opener.  I have since seen the same information on blogs including Little Yellow Cat which has some great pictures showing exactly where I was going wrong.   I learned too about which colours work well for Fair Isle, partly from getting it wrong, pulling out and starting over, but mainly from seeing how other people were using their colours.  All in all, a great experience. Sadly, the hat looks wrong on me - not my shape at all. Still, I'm sure it'll find a home soon. If not, I'll frame it!

My Captiva Wrap
I have also joined in the Feller-along hosted by the A Playful Day podcast / Ravelry Group.  Here I chose the Captiva Wrap pattern which uses short rows for shaping.  This was a new technique for me so I watched Carol's free Craftsy class, which I highly recommend, then I was off.  I raced along with this project.  I was using a beautifully squishy DK from Soft Like Kittens which has proved to be as warm and comfortable as it looks. I have worn this every other day since I finished it and it attracts comments wherever I go.

Once again, I found the Ravelry Group members to be a great bunch of people, full of encouragement and generally great fun to hang out with. I love seeing what everyone has been making.

Being totally addicted now, I've joined in with the Stitched Together Designs Group's Winter Warmer KAL. For this I have knitted a small shawl that I was planning, but once again I have enjoyed the camaraderie in the group and have loved seeing everyone's projects grow.  This pattern is the "Pimpelliese" by Christine Ebers knitted in Easy Knit's Biffle-Boo sock yarn. I love the bright colours: they remind me of both spring crocuses and chewy sweets from my childhood.

All of these projects have been immensely rewarding: I've learned new techniques, been "forced" to try things I might not have chosen if I'd seen the full pattern in advance and met many wonderful new people in the various Ravelry groups.  It is inspiring to see how other people interpret the same pattern so differently and how they put yarn together in ways I'd never considered.

I've proudly joined the A Playful Day group's Ravellenics team and am even more proud that we are using my design for our team Ravatar during the games.  My Ravellenics project is more of a marathon than anything else. I'm attempting an Afghan blanket using the Diagonal Rib Mitered Square Blanket pattern by Joan Marie.  This will be a first for me: although I have crocheted many blankets over the years I have never knitted one.  I'm keeping up with my self-imposed minimum of a square a day and hope that by the end of the event I will have a stylish throw to show off.

And what will the next couple of months hold? No doubt, more knit-alongs.. I see A Playful Day are planning some Big Love!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Christmas was Accomplished!

I really, really enjoyed preparing for Christmas this year.  I had a huge amount of knitting mojo for the first time in years and all those close to me benefitted (I think that's the word) in one way or another.  Mostly I made hats, mitts and cowls but I tried to match up the design to the person. Judging by the reactions I seem to have got it right.

The Ladies' gifts
Generally, I used patterns from Ravelry with little or no changes and a range of Rowan yarns. Those to the left are Creative Worsted (green), Lima (maroon) and 100% Merino (Grey). The green is a little on the scratchy side and sheds as you knit it, but the colours are wonderful and I think will hold its shape and pattern very well.

The sockhead hat in the boys' collection followed the pattern but the other two were adapted. The grey hat uses Heather Kinne's Lined Beanie pattern, but instead of striping I used a textured stitch for the outside. I was very pleased with the result. It's a simple but ingenious pattern .  Maybe next time I'd use something with a bit more ribbing to make the fit a bit more snug, but I was reluctant to do that given that the inner layer is stocking stitch. Still, that could be ribbed too. I chose this pattern because the recipient spends a lot of time outside in the cold for his hobbies - it should get a lot of wear.

For the Boys
The other adaptation was to the cowl. This was based on Totally Biased ! by Susan Ashcroft. I used two colours of Debbie Bliss's Donegal Tweed Aran which were chosen because the recipient has happy memories of a maroon sweater with mustard flecks from when he was a child.  I loved working with this yarn and really enjoyed devising the striping sequence.

Details of all of these projects (and more) are in my Ravelry Projects.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Santa was very good to me. I have a number of knitting books and, most exciting, a drop spindle spinning kit. I am beyond delighted with this and am just waiting for a few hours to myself to give it a go.  The kit contains a large wooden drop spindle and 200g of natural wool roving (50g each of Manx Loughtan, Merino, Jacob and Bluefaced Leicester Humbug). So, not only will I be able to try this new craft, but I'll get to see and feel the differences between the different fibres.  I am sooo looking forward to this.

So - onwards and upwards. 2014 is here and I am raring to go.  Apart from the spinning I am also planning to try dyeing some yarn. I'll post here when I have some results.

Happy New Year!