March newsletter

Hello again!

I could say this newsletter is late because of the snow … which actually wouldn’t be true at all as the snow has not held me up! It has stopped me making a trip to the very west of Wales where I have a caravan overlooking St David’s Head but that’s all now put back a week so I’ve had more time at home not less.

So what’s being going on knitting wise?

I’m machine knitting at the moment. This is a fine 3ply wool sweater for my partner, Gordon, to wear under his McNair walking shirt, a Christmas present from me.

The McNair shirt is made in Slaithwaite, a village near Huddersfield where we live, and is a great example of local small scale production. You can read all about it here, on their rather slick web site.   The shirts are not cheap and raise all the questions about how much we are prepared to pay for our clothes, showing it is that global capitalism has made mass production of so many goods so cheap that we can treat them as disposable blah blah … I’m sure most of you are familiar with the arguments on this. Anyway, it was a lot of money, like anything made in the UK that pays the maker anything more than living wage.

Gordon had been wearing an old cashmere jumper of my father’s under it. This goes back to when I worked in the knitwear industry and sometimes visited factories that would have garments on offer, so this is a beautiful garment, classic bottle green etc but with a moth hole right in the middle of the front, probably where some food or drink’s been spilled down it. No amount of mending, visible or invisible, is going to restore it to its former glory, but as an underlayer it’s perfect. However, a change is needed from time to time even if all these wool garments do hardly ever need to be washed, hence the call to action.

I suggested buying a merino base layer but when I admitted that I have some 3 ply pure machine washable wool on cone, a rare beast indeed, an order was placed. So it’s almost there, not quite enough for a photo though. I love machine knitting but as a process it’s not very photogenic, (unlike say hand spinning) which is a shame so here’s some not very attractive pics: (I don’t think machine knitting is meant for blogs or Instagram).

This is the start – the tension swatch, the working out and notes including the special green ruler for reading off stitch and row gauge. And while I was working out the shape of the garment, I had to search for a sleeve top shape and sound everything I needed on the Knitting & Crochet Guild web site here under the heading ‘Finding out more about designing’. It’s a mine of information and highly recommended although it’s not what I’d term designing, more pattern drafting.

Here’s some pics of the work in progress:

The blue is the garment and the yellow and green are waste yarn, used a lot on the machine.

Machine knitting is a great way of producing good quality garments quickly, or it can be combined with hand knitting or crochet to make items like blankets such as this one, featured some while ago. The central panels are machine knitted on my chunky machine and the deep border is double crochet. The yarn is all my own indigo dyeing, some over natural greys and dark greys. Design inspiration Amish and Welsh quilts by the way.

I’m also carrying on with hand knitting gloves for my friend Jenny a process not without upset as I had to undo about 3 hours of work when I realised that the yarn I was using was just not the right thickness. I do my utmost to use only stash yarn for these gloves and I’d run out of the perfect vintage pure wool 3 ply in the exact right shade of red, so I put in a heavier red which didn’t work. It’s on the white background, 2 pics, below. I then found a very thin pure wool on cone, and have continued with that. All is ok and progress is again being made.

And I’m also thinking about exhibitions, workshops and a lot of travel …. and hosting Beth Brown-Reinsel at the end of the month – thanks for the heads up Beth in her recent newsletter.

and wondering what I can do with this gorgeous yarn, a present from someone who knows I like to knit with 3 ply pure wool, (and there’s none better than Marion Foale’s) here:


I almost forgot to say that I have finished one or two of my many half finished projects …  a couple of Estonian wristwarmers.


February newsletter

February newsletter

I’m not sure if this post should be called news from January rather than February newsletter … but that’s what is it really.

Social media
After thinking about it for ages, my social media is now more pulled together. The Welsh Minx has gone and I am now I’m angharadt, except Twitter, which already had one, so there I’m angharadtphd.

I’m on Facebook, which I use for both personal and textile-y posts and news, sometimes public and sometimes private. You can find me as Angharad Thomas; I have 2 Instagram accounts, one of which is public and one private, and I also have a Linkedin account. I have a Pinterest page; both of the latter are fairly dormant, but I do keep pics of lost gloves there.

More importantly perhaps, I’m on Ravelry, where you can see my projects, groups, stash and so on, and message me.

My activity on all of these is fairly sporadic, a bit like on this blog actually.

Yarn for glove knitting

Dreadful news. In the last few days I’ve discovered that my favourite yarn for glove knitting, and the one used by the knitters in Sanquhar, Regia 3 ply wool and nylon, is being discontinued. Supplies of some colours have been tricky for a year of so now, resulting in me bringing some back with me from California, supplied by a shop in Canada. I had a query, through this blog, about what yarn to use for Sanquhar gloves, so I thought I had better check my suppliers, only to find out of stock and discontinued notices on web pages. So it’s back to searching for vintage yarns and fine 4 plies to substitute for the Regia. There is a German yarn that appears to be suitable but the web site is all in German …..

What I’m knitting now – silk gloves
In the meantime I’ve been knitting in Jaipur Fine Silk, in white, on 1.5 mm circulars. The knitting is very very slow both because its so fine – and because I can’t knit more than about 4 rounds without getting pain in my left hand. So what I was hoping to have complete in about a week is very incomplete now. Even if I knitted solid all the time I’m awake I wouldn’t get them done. It’s been a bit of an eyeopener and makes me look at the silk gloves that I studied a few years ago with renewed awe.

Here’s a real unedited snap of my worktable with the silk gloves in progress. It looks as mess, probably because it is one. Every item is of use.

And here’s the thumb of the right hand, a little offset into the palm.

Knitting & Crochet Guild news
I volunteer in the collection of the KCG where my rather grand title is Textile Curator. I’m usually there two days a week but this week we had a concerted initiative to have an early spring clean, so a group of us were in for an extra day. We also had a visit from second year students at the University of Huddersfield, a picture of which is on the KCG Facebook page, and a visit from the editors of Slipknot, the quarterly magazine of the KCG. This is a great little (A5) publication and in itself a good reason for being a member of the KCG. There’s no advertising, and lots of interesting pieces written by members. Often there’s something about the collection too, usually written by Barbara Smith whose blog is highly recommended at Barbara Knits Again.

The big clear out included a massive sort out of the knitting needles and you can get some idea of the scale of the operation from these images:


My UFOS and WIPS (Unfinished Objects and Works In Progress)

The light is getting brighter and the days longer so it might be time to take stock of the UFOs and WIPs that fill the bags and baskets in my workspace (actually a spare bedroom, the bed is a handy space to spread things out on). There are at least 3 pairs of gloves that might never become pairs, 3 pairs of mittens ditto, a jumper that has a couple of inches of the trim started, a crochet blanket with perhaps half the hexagons started but not finished, and several pieces of Estonian knitting started at Craft Camp and waiting for attention … then there’s still some swatches and samples which could be turned into blankets and throws. They’ve been waiting many years and might have to wait longer still. Some of them are waiting patiently in these bags:

Knit for Peace

I’ve been experimenting with knitting gloves or mittens to send to an amazing organisation called Knit for Peace. Based in London they both bring people together to knit and understand each other better, but also collect garments and other things that are then sent out to people in need of them, in Syria, mainly.

So as a break from knitting fine gloves, I decided to make some simpler gloves and mittens for Knit for Peace, with the aim of designing a pattern for them; more on that later.  This I saw as an opportunity to explore some different structures for covering the hands, with a view to perhaps using them in my own designs, so not entirely philanthropic in aim! I started with their own patterns for hand warmers which are a garter stitch square that has a gap in the side seam for the thumb. Very straight forward.


Waiting to be sewn up


Ready to wear

These are knitted in 2 strands of vintage pure wool Jaeger 4ply which should be nice and warm, and which came from the Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention stash swap. I’ve got another pair on the needles and it’s great to have something straightforward to knit as a change from complicated gloves!

So far I have also knitted 2 mittens from Elizabeth Zimmermann, the 36 stitch pattern from Knitters Almanac, and the garter stitch mitts from Knitting Around. These are in the same vintage pure wool as the hand warmers. You can see these below, and although the 36 stitch mitts look rather long and thin they are actually fine once they are on a hand – like mine!


EZ 36 stitch mitts


EZ sideways garter stitch mitts

The sideways garter stitch mitts are interesting to knit, and cunningly constructed but I don’t think they are one of EZ’s most inspired creations – however, I’m still glad that I tried them.

I offered to write a pattern for mittens and perhaps gloves for Knit for Peace and apparently most of their contributors like to knit on 2 needles from patterns that they provide, not Ravelry or the internet. So, I started knitting some mittens on two needles, and I’m almost there with the pattern having realised that you have to knit the thumb before progressing up the hand. I struggled with this, having knitted a whole mitten and gone back to the thumb in the round with a pair of straight pins. It didn’t work. I then had to find a pattern for mittens on two needles, which is not as easy as you might think, to see how it’s done. I found a Canadian booklet for gloves and mitts which explained the process, so now I can progress with my pattern.

So that’s all for now about Knit for Peace, but I plan to be writing more soon.


Birmingham Saturday October 15th and Sunday October 16th I will be teaching two workshops:

Saturday is the Birmingham branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild meeting and the subject is lace. There will be a show and tell of lace garments and samplers from the KCG Collection followed by a hands on workshop of lace knitting, using a sampler from the collection as inspiration. Participants can make their own selection of yarn and needles with a view to knitting samples or a scarf.

Yellow lace sampler

Sunday is an independent workshop on glove knitting. Participants will have the opportunity to learn and practice the techniques used in knitting two colour gloves and will need to bring 2 colours of plain smooth yarn in 4 ply or DK and double pointed or circular needles in appropriate sizes.

Sanquhar glove

There are a few places available on both. Cost for the lace workshop is £12.50 and the cost of the glove workshop is £20.

Both take place in the Community Room of the John Lewis store in central Birmingham.

Contact me via this blog if you would like to reserve a place.

Estonian glove workshop: 16th June 2016


Thursday 16th June – Estonian gloves workshop.

(Huddersfield branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild)


I went to Estonian Craft Camp last year and am going again this year in July. The web site is here if you want to find out more:

Other crafts than knitting are also covered and I did nalbinding (pre-knitting constructed textile) and making bone needles last year. I did blog about them in July 2015:

This workshop is just to give a taster of how to go about knitting wristlets, gloves or mittens in the Estonian style. You are going to knit a sample piece to try out three techniques and then from there you will be able to design and knit your own.


These are some resources for finding out more about Estonian knitting:


Estonian Knitting by Nancy Bush


Ornamented journey by Kristi Joeste


YouTube has some useful resources: a book review:

Estonian Knitting 1. Reviewed here by Felicity Ford (Knitsonik)

Estonian Cast on by Nancy Bush


The materials for the Muhu wristlets: note set of 5 1.5 mm double pointed pins and pure wool 3ply


Getting started on 4 pins


A completed wristlet – not mine


Knitting & Crochet Guild

Huddersfield branch, 16th June 2016


A taster of Estonian knitting for the workshop


N.B. Bare bones instructions


Use a set of 4 or 5 needles – and cast on 36 stitches using one of the Estonian methods

(any long tailed cast on will do, or a chain cast on)

Knit one round in purl and one in knit


Purl stitch with braid

Take a short (80cms approx?) length of contrast yarn and knit in with main colour on first stitch. Purl every stitch using the two yarns alternately, wrapping one over the other as you go. A two colour braid will form.

This can be done with one colour, but it’s easier with two to keep track of the yarns. Hot tip: unwind the yarns by letting the knitting spin around, not the yarns.


Knit 2 – 3 rounds main colour.


Two colour border with lace holes

First round: Knit 4 contrast, 2 main all round

Second round: YO K2tog all round


Carry on knitting

This would be a good time to try some small two colour patterns – little squares or just alternate stitches in the contrast colour to get used to knitting with two colours, one in each hand.


Estonian/peasant/after thought thumb:

Knit a few stitches, then knit say, 4 or 6 sts with your contrast yarn, replace these on the left needle, and continue to knit in the main yarn. When you are further up the knitting the contrast sts can be taken out and picked up for a thumb.

Use this as an opportunity to design your own wristlet or mitten – you will need more stitches of course. The amounts of yarn needed are very small.


Top edge of traditional wristlet is finished with a crochet picot edge – suggest this could be used on the cast on also, if this is a little ragged?


Some gloves that were shown in the workshop at Craft Camp, and in other sessions





The above gloves are all typical Muhu island gloves

The white/cream and colours are from another area, Ruhnu





























A couple of pairs designed and knitted by Nancy Bush for Estonian friends are shown as part of an online exhibition here: scroll across until they appear), or here they are:


A major project finished!

I’ve been working on this crochet blanket for, probably, 10 years, perhaps more. It was supposed to be my ‘easy’ project, that I could do when talking to friends or in front of the tele. It was also started with the intention of using a large bag of wool, mostly left over from my Masters course in the mid 80s, and a batch of indigo dyed wool. This wool was in hanks, very overspun, grey, originally from Craftsman’s Mark, a yarn firm that some of you may remember, which was owned and run by Morfudd Roberts. This I indigo dyed to various shades of dark blue.

The idea behind this blanket was to be quite improvised looking. I was freed from being too neat with crochet by the book, Louisa Calder’s Creative Crochet in which she shows visible joins in colours and other irregularities. Some of the reviews on the Amazon page are interesting – some people ‘get it’ and some don’t.



Anyway, the whole project has been a design challenge as the quantities of yarn seem to have altered – more indigo dyed wool to use, then less, then more on one side than the other, then the whole thing getting far too big and so on. It started as a series of pieces and then got added to with strips being crocheted for the sides, and so on.

I am pleased with it though, although I think the wools used for the final edgings are too new and bright, but I’m hoping that I’ll stop noticing this in time.

The final round was going to be done in crab stitch, which I like to use as a finished edge, but I had a brain wave and decided to use a purple wool boucle for the last round. I think I must have dyed this too, as there’s quite a lot of it and it’s pure wool, not easily obtained now. It completes the piece. Here it is:

Crochet blanket


I’m pleased with this – it looks like I intended it to look, by and large.

I now have a large bag of hand spun yarns left from my mother -what am I going to make with them?

A beautiful garment

Happy New Year!

I have many resolutions for 2016, one of them being to extol the virtues of machine knitting wherever possible. Over the New Year an old friend of mine appeared wearing a very lovely dark navy blue sweater with a roll neck. It was beautifully made and proportioned, and machine knitted in fine dense pure wool. It was perfect for the occasion where we were part of a group of friends staying high in the Lake District at Honister Hause Youth Hostel. We were at 1100 feet and not that far below the snow line so good functional warm clothes were essential even inside, especially when we first arrived.

Earlier today I had the chance to look at this garment in detail and find out where it had come from. In the past, I have knitted garments for him and also given him small knitted gifts like the small throw that I blogged about some while ago (I had trouble finding it, might reorganise in the next few days) and he is also the recipient of a pair of my hand knitted gloves. In short, I am confident that he has good taste in knitwear. I was curious about this latest model but he does sail and so I knew that he would know places to buy proper gear. It turned out that he just did a ‘heavy duty google’ for fisherman’s jumpers and this was what appeared.

I had a good look at it this morning and took some pictures of the fabric and the structure and also the label. It is made by a Danish firm that I have not come across before called SNS Herning. The web site shows their range of garments which is extensive for men, but rather limited for women. It is obvious from the site that they are pitching at a fashion market as well as to those who want functional clothing and the stockists in London are in key locations such as Redchurch Street, home to Labour and Wait, one of my favourite shops and Lambs Conduit Street, another place for great small shops.

The web site tells of the machines on which the garments are knitted and also a bit about the people who knit them and in many ways the set up is similar to that of small scale weavers such as Melin Tregwynt and Solva Woollen Mill, both in West Wales, who batch produce high quality goods using mechanised looms but hand finishing processes. Interestingly, the SNS Herning sweater label said that it was knitted in Denmark and made up in Latvia, presumably to keep costs down but it could also be to do with access to machinery or people with particuar skills.

So here’s the pictures I took:


The rather wonderful retro back neck label

IMG_20160103_101044The sleeve and shoulder



Detail of hem finish

A rather dark shot of the hem

The fabric is constructed from a dense double jersey (the plain sections) interspersed with bands of a textured stitch, for you machine knitters a tuck stitch, which adds both elasticity and a textural interest. The garment is put together with a heavy overlock, often associated with cheaper quality knitwear but I was impressed by the superb quality of this manufacture which is really solid and immaculately done.


And check the label! The whole thing a great advert for machine produced knitwear.