I absolutely love Ella Gordon's colourwork designs. She has an amazing eye for detail and for colour combinations, so we were really pleased that she agreed to create a pattern for A Year of Techniques. Her Shaila mittens combine a series of peerie (small) Shetland motifs on the hands with a corrugated cuff and contrast facing.
The technique for January is mastering dominance in Fair Isle knitting. When you work stranded colourwork you have a choice each time you pick up a colour to take it from either above or below the previous yarn. When you pick up the new yarn from below the old yarn the stitch you create will be slightly longer than if you picked it up from above the old yarn. Over a stretch of knitted fabric, this has an impact on how the colourwork looks. If you consistently pick up the background colour from above the foreground colour, the foreground will be dominant, and its patterning will stand out more because the foreground stitches will be longer. The reverse is also true, if you pick up the background from below the foreground, the patterning will be less strong as the foreground stitches will be shorter. In pieces of knitting where the colours have been picked up "any old how" the result will look less tidy than it might.
The pattern includes a full photo tutorial explaining 3 different ways in which you can hold both yarns at the same time - thus ensuring that you always pick up in the correct arrangement. The sample mittens have been knitted with the foreground stitches longer (held below the background), and this makes the yellow patterning stand out.
I absolutely love Ella's design, and there are two sizes, so there's just a chance that Jim might end up with a pair for Christmas...
We have a selection of shades of Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumper Weight, which is the recommended yarn for this design, available in the online shop for £2.85 per ball. I've chosen shades that I think will work well together... How about dark and light grey (shades 54 and 203)? Or muted yellow on green (shades 28 & 29 mix)? You could also substitute 2 balls of J&S 2ply Jumper Weight for 1 ball of J&S Shetland Supreme (a premium natural fleece shade), which we have in shade Gaulmogot - a beautiful pale, warm brown. I think Gaulmogot would great with the deeper pink of shade 72 mix (2 balls of 2ply Jumper Weight in shade 72 mix and 1 ball of Shetland Supreme in Gaulmogot), or perhaps with one of my all-time favourites, the gentle turquoise of FC34 mix? I could mix and match all day long!
Print copies of A Year of Techniques have all gone in the post as of today (hurrah!), and we will be shipping Winter Kits (£42.00 and they contain all the yarn required for December, January and February's projects) in the week commencing 11th September.
Thank you once again to Ella Gordon for designing these gorgeous mittens for us! Tomorrow we will be the final pattern release, which (by process of elimination) must be Mary Jane Mucklestone with steeks! I can't wait to show you it.
If your local yarn shop would be interested in stocking A Year of Techniques, they can order wholesale copies from our distributor, Chester Wool Company.