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Jessica Joy

Knitwear designer, teacher and author

Knit Today magazine (from the publishers of Mollie Makes) has had a major facelift and it looks great, don’t you think? Really fresh and clean. I had the pleasure of shooting some how-to steps and videos with the team, and they’re a lovely bunch – spot those orange nails!

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The style is similar to its sister magazine, Simply Sewing, and is aimed mostly at beginners, but there’s still an intriguing range of patterns and garments to get your teeth into. From colour-block tees, sweaters, toys, and accessories – how cute is this little cropped jumper?

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And to really indulge your knitterly world, there’s some great articles – like this dreamy peek inside Toft Alpaca. My mum lives close to the farm, so we’ll definitely be paying those fuzzy guys a visit soon.

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I also shared some thoughts on summer knitting in the issue (even if it does feel on the verge of Autumn now!)

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What magazines do you read, knitting or otherwise? Do you subscribe to any? I’ve just had the new issue of Pompom through my letterbox, so that’s my weekend sorted – have a good one, friends!

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I finished and blocked Lila a few weeks ago and have been so caught up wearing her, I didn’t stop to take any photos… obviously a good sign!

FO: Lila2

I chose the second size for a tiny bit of positive ease and couldn’t be happier with the fit – it’s the perfect mix of slouch and figure hugging. The bottom edge is inclined to sit on my hips a little, so I probably could have added a few inches to the length to help that – ah well, no big deal!

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The style is really versatile though; it’s been great to wear with slouchy harem pants as well as smarter trousers so I’m pleased I went for a neutral shade.

FO: Lila5

The yarn is Drops Lima and was lovely and springy to knit with. It’s not the softest, but the fabric is super warm and has a nice cosy, rustic feel.

FO: Lila1

Do you think I can get away with wearing her everyday? I’ll probably try and make another one at some point, maybe a bigger size for a looser, drapey fit. It’s a great project to relax with!

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One of my favourite places to knit is on the train – it’s such a calm and solitary place (the quiet carriage, anyway!) This is what I like to carry with me, and a few top tips I’ve learnt from knitting out in the wild – I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been stuck without a darning needle, or something equally crucial!

Al fresco knitting: top tips!

Al fresco knitting: top tips!

Al fresco knitting: top tips!

Al fresco knitting: top tips!

  1. Create a specific tool kit for travelling – a small zipped pouch or tin is perfect: I carry yarn needles, stitch holders, lots of different stitch markers, pins, scissors, and a gauge ruler. My Hiya Hiya interchangeable needles fold down into here as well, which is so handy. Try not to remove anything so it stays intact!
  2. Project bag: The small linen Bento bag from Fringe Supply Co is incredible – I swear it expands and contracts magically with each project. If I’m going to be on my feet a lot, I take the second bag – a small foldable with a handle to loop over my wrist – it keeps the yarn clean and secure while you work away.
  3. Smartphone/tablet: load your PDF pattern onto your device before leaving the house – it’s great for accessing on the move, and cuts down on clutter. If you’re used to writing on a paper pattern, see #4!
  4. Pen and paper: Is anyone else obsessed with Field Notes? The mister is a hardcore collector so I have a steady supply of these adorable pocket books. They’re super slimline and keep all your pattern notes in one place.
  5. Take manageable size projects with simple stitch patterns and shaping if possible. Sleeves, socks and sweater panels are fab.
  6. Learn to knit without looking: if you suffer from travel sickness, this is a lifesaver for car trips! It’s best to stick to plain stitches, rather than complicated lace or cables. If you naturally guide the stitch on the left needle with your index finger, you’re most of the way there. Take a moment to recognise the feel of each stitch and you’ll soon recognise when something doesn’t quite feel right – then, just keep on watching the horizon!

Where do you take your knits when you head out and about? Do you have any top tips to add to this list?

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Let’s talk about casting on! Just like the foundations of a building, the cast on is a crucial starting point for your projects and is really important to get right. It seems to me every knitter has their preferred ‘everyday’ cast on, which could be totally different to the next. Even now I’m discovering the benefits of other methods and learning to stray away from my faithful favourites when the need arises. Heyo backwards loop!

In the name of science I decided to work up some swatches and compare them.

Jessica Joy: Knitted cast on

1. Knitted

How: Worked with 2 needles, emulates a knit stitch.
Pro: Easy, good beginners choice.
Cons: Can be loose and gappy, slow to work.

Jessica Joy: Backwards loop cast on

2. Backwards loopVIDEO

How: Worked with 1 needle creating basic loops with your thumb.
Pros: Quick, great for chunky yarns, discrete. Good for mid-row cast-ons.
Cons: Curls. Unstable so have to work first row carefully to keep it looking even. Best if the first row is a plain knit or purl row.

Jessica Joy: Long Tail Cast on

3. Long tail VIDEO

How: Worked with 1 needle creating loops with your thumb, and throwing the long tail end to knit the stitch at the same time.
Pros: Super-strong, stretchy, lies flat, nice to work into.
Cons: Hard to judge how much tail you’ll need – may have too much, or not enough.

Jessica Joy: Cable Cast on

4. Cable

How: Worked with 2 needles, similar to knitted CO but the right needle is inserted between stitches rather than diagonally through the previous stitch.
Pros: Pretty with a really neat ‘corded’ effect to the edge, lies flat. God for mid-row cast ons.
Cons: Slow to work, chunky, not stretchy

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Hello, friends! I hope you’re enjoying some sunny rays in your corner of the world. Bristol has been glorious recently and I’ve been taking time out for evening strolls, and alfresco dates with my kindle whenever I can. I’ve been conspicuously absent from the blog for the last 6 months, beavering away on freelance work, so it’s nice to be back after a few trips away to recharge.

In April the mister and I took a trip to the lakeside town of Lausanne in Switzerland for his 30th birthday. It’s a gorgeous old university town with a really artsy vibe, not dissimilar to Bristol. Just add a gorgeous view and awe-inspiring mountains!

Lausanne, Switzerland

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Knitted Rabbit in Switzerland

Maisy the knitted bunny on holiday in Switzerland.

Maisy!

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Shortly after I traveled to Brighton with my mum for a weekend and couldn’t resist a few rows at the end of the pier! This is the early stages of the formidable Lila sweater by Carrie Bostick Hoge, which is so beautiful. I’ve made a vow recently to try and knit (and design!) more wearable projects this year, that match my style more closely and I’m super excited!

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The yarn I’m using for Lila is Drops Lima in Light Brown (5310) and it’s the perfect lightweight, springy yarn – such a Dream to knit with. I’ll be back with updates on how she’s progressing soon.

What are you working on at the moment?

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Tutorial: Kitchener Stitch for Garter Stitch

Kitchener stitch is an invisible way to graft two sets of live stitches together. It’s used to close the toes of socks, the tips of mittens, and anywhere that you’d like your seams to look uninterrupted. You’ve probably seen kitchener stitch used to graft stocking stitch together, so it might come as a surprise to see it used with garter stitch, but it’s entirely possible. The trick is to work out the orientation of the stitches, and then the correct combination of movements with the needle. Let’s have a look at an example to see how it works.

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At this time of year I spend a lot of time curled up on the sofa knitting, sheltering from the cold with a blanket and a pot of tea. It’s my favourite! Something that has been missing from this tranquil scene is a cute basket to store my WIPs by the sofa. I’ve filled this void by designing a chunky basket that’s perfect for the job! I designed it with knitting in mind, but frankly it could store anything – kindling by the fireplace, or even fruit on the dining table!

Chunky Jersey Storage Basket: Knitting Pattern

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