I'm entirely blaming Hunter Hammersen. It's completely her fault!
We have been chatting by email for a few months – comparing notes on getting carried away with techniques and the demands of running a knitting publishing business. She's been sharing photos of her experiments with what she has called "dip stitches" over on her Instagram account (HunterHammersen) for a few months now, and earlier in the summer she sent me a preview copy of her new book, Firmament, which explores these fun stitches in detail.
I took the book and a couple of skeins of Madeline Tosh Merino Light on holiday with me to France, and Constellate was my constant companion on the terrace while the kids swam, in the car as we wound our way along the valleys, and in the evening with a glass of Kir on the balcony of our caravan. It was the perfect fun project to refresh my needles after an intense period of knitting up the designs for our next book.
So what are dip stitches? Well you dip your needle down, poke it through the fabric and pull through a loop, instead of just knitting the next stitch. It makes these beautiful stitch patterns with strands of yarn sitting over the surface.
Aren't those swatches appealing? There are so many possibilities, and Firmament not only includes detailed illustrated tutorials demonstrating how to create the stitches, but it also has a small stitch dictionary section where variations on each of the stitch patterns used in the designs are showcased.
I finished knitting Constellate in the car on the way home last weekend, and before I knew it I had cast on for Ecliptic... What am I like? I have two designs that need finishing before a photoshoot next week, so I have no business casting on a new fun project, but I honestly couldn't help myself! I'm not sure that I have sufficient yarn in my chosen colour, so I'm knitting a contrast band that will be on the inside of the folded brim (hence the light and dark purples on my needles). I'm excited to keep working on it, but for now I need to be good and complete the work knitting. I really must!
One of the things I love most about these designs, over and above the fun stitch patterns, is the beautiful crown shaping. Stunning crown shaping is a must for me – it can take a long time to get right, but it's totally worth it in the end – and Hunter has really done a beautiful job on the hats in Firmament.
Isn't that pleasing? The stitches just flow into the centre. I love it! I had been planning to put this hat into my pile of potential Christmas gifts, but I'm not sure that I can bring myself to do it. It's more likely to be tossed into the basket by the door and be worn!
While we were travelling (particularly when the roads got wound like corkscrews!) I found a little bit of time to knit on the body of my Ola Yoke. The running marker is keeping track of the inches in the body, and I need to thread it through the section I knitted while we were away, but I think I'm up to 13" or so. I'm expecting this to fly along once we're at the layout stage of the next book, as I'm going to take a break from designing for a while. I never planned to be a designer, and it's not something that comes particularly naturally to me. The next book is entirely my creation and while I'm really excited about it, and can't wait to share it with you all, I love knitting other people's designs too much to keep doing my own. Don't worry though, there are plenty of tutorials to write, and videos to film! I'm just going to cut back on the design part.
You can get your hands on a copy of Firmament (as well as a little goody that Hunter sent for our customers!) over in our online shop. Copies cost £18.50 plus shipping, and come with a download code (hidden behind a scratch off silver panel) for you to add the ebook to your Ravelry library. Be warned though, those patterns are hard to put down!