In February, I went on a wonderful course run by McAree Brothers knitting shop and taught by Carol Meldrum, known as Beatknit. The course was on hand knitter’s tuck stitch also known as brioche. It was amazing, and a great start to learning this technique.
I next encountered brioche knitting at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March when I attended a workshop run by Stephen West of Westknits. His shawls, his enthusiasm for brioche, and his amazing sense of colour were all so inspiring!
So, I started thinking about a new design for my machine knitted fabric. Colour choices in brioche are so important. Stephen West makes it look very easy! After a number of attempts, I came up with a design.
As its not proper brioche, I needed to find a new name for it. These are some of the rejected names: bogus brioche (sounds like a hybrid monster); bad-ass brioche (son raised eyebrows and said No); pseudo brioche (too serious); artful brioche (maybe)! I eventually settled on Bandit Brioche: it’s not real brioche; and it’s a wee bit of a chancer!
Hope you like the new design which I will be selling at the Boggs Community Market on Saturday 7th May.
Having bought a second-hand copy of “The Harmony Guide to Machine Knitting Stitches”, I was intrigued by one of it’s star-shaped patterns. Unfortunately, the pattern was laid out for a 50-row punchcard. So, using my knitter’s graph paper from Rowan Morrison Books, I adapted the pattern for my 60-row punchcards.
After I had knitted up some sample swatches using the new punchcard, I designed a new fabric bag, one large enough to take a medium-sized knitting or crochet project. I decided to complement this with a long tool case that could take DPNs. Once these were fine-tuned, I decided to make a collection of neon coloured bags, with a grey contrast colour. Trips to the Knit Rennie woollen mill in Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire and to the fabric mill, Scottish Linen in Fife were then needed to stock up on the right colours and fabrics.
Once I had machine knitted the fabric, I cut out and sewed the medium-sized project bags and long tool or pencil cases using complimentary lining fabrics. These are now for sale in my Woolly Originals E-Shop. Next up, my Granite Star designs!
Two weeks ago, I started a new machine knitting class on Fridays with the very knowledgeable and very helpful Jill Lothian of Scottish Machine Knitters. She also very kindly sourced a vintage Knitmaster 326 for me! I’m unbelievably excited to own a knitting machine at last. I have wanted one for a very long time, but was unsure about how I would learn to use it and maintain it.
Jill’s course is great and concentrates on the technical aspects of machine knitting. This is in contrast to Katy Birchall’s wonderful class I attended at Edinburgh Contemporary Crafts at Abbeyhill Techbase in Edinburgh from January to March this year, which focussed on the design and project planning aspects of machine knitting.
This Bank Holiday Monday, I have knit up two squares: one with a stripe pattern allowing me to relearn how to switch between two colours; and the second using a colourwork pattern punchcard that Jill lent me. I’ve used the same two colours for the squares, namely Charcoal and Marzipan from Knit Rennie. The wool is a 2/11 supersoft lambswool and washes beautifully.
To celebrate the start of the Year of the Sheep, I visited JC Rennie’s in Mintlaw, north Aberdeenshire. The rural site at Mintlaw is a working mill, producing hand and machine knitting yarns. Visiting the mill in person was a fantastic experience, as not only was I able to select a number of 2/11 supersoft lambswool yarns for the project for my machine knitting course, but I was taken on a very interesting tour around the mill by Laura at Rennies. It was fascinating to see how the mill takes different coloured wools, then blends them together to produce a “melange” or “heather” yarn. This method of producing yarns, which is more environmentally friendly than injecting a single dye into a spun yarn, gives an amazing depth of colour. It was a great day out and I came away, not only wiser about the milling process, but also with more than four kilos of machine knitting lambswool!