Friday, 22 November 2013

Vintage-style round striped cushions

My daughter recently moved home, and wanted cushions to go with her new 50s/60s style sofa. As usual I ended up designing my own pattern - there are images on the Internet for similar cushions, but I couldn't find a free pattern.
This is a great stashbusting project - use bright colours with black or white for a 60s look, and more subtle shades for a 50s feel. The pattern is for a cushion 18” in diameter, but you can easily adjust the size – see note at end.


100g DK in colour 1 – used for the back and the narrow stripes separating the colour segments
40g DK in each of 2 more colours. If you want to use 3 colours, allow 30g of each. 6 colours will need about 15 g and so on. You could even make each segment a different colour, to use up all those tiny balls of yarn! I used yarn from my 100% acrylic stash, which is mainly Hayfield Bonus DK and Woolcraft New Fashion DK.
Pair UK 9/3.75 mm straight needles.
3.5 mm crochet hook.
10” or 12” zip to match back colour.
18” round cushion pad.


Finished diameter approximately 17” (to fit an 18” diameter cushion pad).


22 sts and 44 rows to 4”/10 cm over garter stitch.


K knit C1 colour 1
st(s) stitch(es) C2 colour 2
g st garter stitch (every row K) C3 colour 3
dc double crochet sl st slip stitch (crochet)


Using C1, cast on 48 sts.
*Break off C1 and join in C2. K to last 3 sts, turn and K to end.
Next 2 rows: K to 3 sts less than previous rows, turn and K to end.
Repeat last 2 rows, reducing the number of sts worked each time by 3, until the rows K3, turn, K3 have been worked. Break off C2.
Join in C1 and K 2 rows across all sts.
Repeat from * using C3. Continue as picture until 18 segments in all have been worked, ending with K3, turn,K3 (ie do not knit the 2 full rows in C1).
Join in C1, K 1 row and cast off loosely (use a needle 1 or 2 sizes larger).


Make exactly as for front, using C1 throughout. You can make the back to match the front, but you will need to knit the coloured segments in reverse order to make the edges match up – this matters more when 3 or more colours are used.


Note: For US readers, dc (double crochet) in the UK is the same as single crochet in the US

For each piece, with right sides together, oversew seam fairly loosely. At centre, weave yarn through the row ends, draw up tightly and stitch to secure. Press seams lightly according to ball band instructions.
On the back piece, with RS facing you and starting at the seam, work 1 dc into each “knot” at the row ends, thus working 1 dc for every 2 rows of g st. Work until row of dc is about ¾” shorter than the zip you are using.
Place front and back pieces wrong sides together, lining up the seams. With RS of front facing you, work a row of dc into the front piece to correspond with the dc on the back.
Pin the two pieces wrong sides together, lining up the full rows at the end of each segment, and continue to work dc as before, working through both layers. When the round is complete, work 1 sl st into the start of the crochet round and fasten off.
Insert zip, stretching work slightly to fit. Insert cushion pad.


The rust and grey cushion measures 24” across and required 63 sts to be cast on. To make cushions in different sizes or using other yarn thicknesses, simply multiply the radius (half the diameter) you want by the number of sts per inch, ensuring that the number you cast on can be divided by 3.

The rainbow cushion is worked slightly differently: after casting on the first colour, work 2 rows across all sts then reduce by 3 sts per 2 rows as before until 3 are left. Change colours at this point, starting the next colour by working 2 rows across all sts.

Thursday, 21 November 2013


I may have mentioned our three dogs, Jodie, Jake and Harley. Unfortunately Jodie, the eldest at about 15 (we never knew her age for sure) passed away at the beginning of October. She was the Daddy's girl of the three, going with my husband to his shops every day for the past 12 years, so since neither of the other two are temperamentally suited to dealing with customers, and since we had a gap to fill, we set about searching for a new dog. We eventually found Maisie, a lovely little lurcher girl about 5 years old, at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, where Jake came from 12 years ago. Here she is, lounging on the sofa with her new Dad.

Being basically a small greyhound she feels the cold rather more than the others (they are both collie crosses, Jake with a springer and Harley with a labrador), so I've been knitting for her. I struggled to find dog coat patterns in DK, rather than aran/worsted weight - most free patterns online are from the US, and worsted seems to be the preferred weight there, whereas I like something a little lighter for most projects.

I came up with this fairly simple design, using a mock rib stitch which gives some stretch without being clingy, is quick to knit, and permits clean colour changes for stripes. I've also made a couple in the larger size for the "Old Woofs" at Bleakholt - they have a number of older dogs (and other animals) who will probably never be rehomed because of their age, but who will live out their remaining years at the sanctuary.

If you want to use this pattern to knit coats for your own or friends' dogs, or for your local dogs' home, feel free - but please don't use it to make coats to sell for personal profit.

You can download a pdf file from my Ravelry page here.

Maisie dog coat free pattern


200g ball Jarol New Arrival DK
Pair UK8/4 mm needles
Pair UK9/3.75 mm needles
3.75 mm circular needle or set of long dpns (for edging)
3.75 mm dpns for leg edging


To fit 24” to 26” (27” to 29”) chest, back length 23” (25”) excluding neck ribbing (adjustable).


21 sts and 28 rows to 4”/10 cm over mock rib stitch


K knit inc increase by working into front and back of same st
P purl
st(s) stitch(es) dec decrease by working 2 sts tog
rem remaining alt alternate
foll following patt pattern
dpns double pointed needles RS right side
tog together WS wrong side


Using smaller straight needles, cast on 96 (104) sts and work in double rib as follows:
1st rib row: K1, (P2, K2) to last 3 sts. P2, K1.
2nd rib row: K3, (P2, K2) to last st, K1.
Work 2” rib (or desired neck rib length – more for a greyhound or similar long-necked dog), inc 1 st at each end of last row - 98 (106) sts.
Change to larger needles and work mock rib as follows:
Next row: K to end.
Next row: (K2, P6) to last 2 sts, K2.
Cont in patt, inc 1 st at each end of next and each alt (RS) row until there are 130 (146) sts, ensuring continuity of patt and bringing extra sts into patt as you work them.
Work 1 (WS) row.
Divide for leg openings: K18 (21), cast off 6, K82 (92), cast off 6, K18 (21).
Working on last 18 (21) sts only and continuing in patt, patt 1 row.
Dec 1 st at start of next (RS) and foll 2 alt rows - 15 (18) sts. Work 15(19) rows straight. Inc 1 st at start of next (RS) and foll 2 alt rows - 18 (21) sts. Work 1 row, thus ending with a WS row. Cut yarn.
Rejoin yarn to centre group of 82 (92) sts and work 1 row. Dec 1 st at each end of next (RS) and 2 foll alt rows - 76 (86) sts. Work 1 row straight. Inc 1 st at each end of next (RS) and foll 2 alt rows – 82 (92) sts. Work 1 row. Cut yarn.
Rejoin yarn to last group of 18 (21) sts and work 1 row. Dec 1 st at end of next (RS) and foll 2 alt rows - 15 (18) sts. Work 15 (19)rows straight. Inc 1 st at end of next (RS) and foll 2 alt rows - 18 (21) sts. Work 1 row.
Joining row: K 18 (21), turn and cast on 6 sts, turn, K82 (92), turn, cast on 6 sts, turn, K18 (21) - 130 (146) sts.
Work straight until work measures 11” (12”) from end of neck ribbing.
Shape back: Next 2 rows: Work 15 (18) sts, place these sts on a large safety pin, work to end - 100 (110) sts.
Dec 1 st at each end of next row (RS) and each alt row until there are 80 (88) sts left.
Work straight until work measures 20” (22”) from end of neck ribbing (or 3” less than desired finished length).
Dec 1 st at each end of next and foll alt (RS) 4 rows - 70 (78) sts.
Dec 1 st at each end of next and foll 4 rows - 60 (68) sts. Leave sts on needle for edging.
Edging: With RS facing and using circular needle (or long dpns), place 15 (18) sts from 1st safety pin onto left hand needle and work across them as follows:
Smaller size: (K3, K2 tog) 3 times (12 sts).
Larger size: (K4, K2 tog) 3 times (15 sts).
Both sizes: Pick up and K 66 (77) sts along edge, K across 60 (68) sts from needle, pick up and K 66 (77) sts along other edge, and lastly place sts from 2nd safety pin onto left hand needle and work across them as follows:
Smaller size: (K2 tog, K3) 3 times (reducing from 15 to 12 sts)
Larger size: (K2 tog, K4) 3 times (reducing from 18 to 15 sts)
On these 216 (252) sts work 7 rows double rib as for neck. Cast off loosely – use a larger needle.
Leg edging: Using dpns, pick up and K 54 (64) sts around opening. Join into round and work 1” to 2½” double rib as desired. Cast off loosely using larger needle.
If you prefer, you can work 1 row of double crochet (US: single crochet) around each leg opening, using a 4 mm crochet hook (the coat at the top of the pattern is worked like this).
Making up: Press work lightly on WS under a dry cloth, avoiding neck and leg ribbing, to ensure that edging lies flat.
Stitch centre front seam from start of neck ribbing to end of edging ribbing. Weave in and secure any remaining ends. Press seam lightly under a dry cloth.
Detail of mock rib stitch pattern


Use a contrasting colour for the neck and edge ribbing – you will need about 50 g.
Use up odd part balls of yarn in a striped version – this one used about 70 g of each of three colours.
Coat with contrast edging
Striped coat

Monday, 22 July 2013

Pirate backpack

Well, summer has finally made an appearance - we haven't had weather like this since 2006! It's far too hot for knitting, so I've been sewing instead - I have a ceiling fan in my sewing room!
The inspiration for this backpack came from the pirate applique motif which I bought ages ago - my granddaughter was into pirates at the time (and thankfully still is as the bag's for her). I didn't want to use it on clothing as she grows out of things so fast, so I hit upon the idea of a bag. Having scoured the Internet, I came across this pattern on the Heart of Mary page here - the original name was the City Backpack. Perfect - a nice neat size that, with adjustable straps, will grow with her.
I followed the pattern fairly closely, starting by cutting a paper pattern - I didn't fancy trying to draw outlines on black denim. I changed the construction method in some places but basically it's as per the pattern given. Both the fabrics came from my favourite online fabric store, Chawla's ; the motif, the red cord for the drawstring and the toggle and strap sliders from my local fabric store, Oakmount Mill in Burnley. The giant red button, which I was struggling to find a use for, was a freebie from an online order. I made a loop to fasten it by inserting a piece of elastic into the seam attaching the top flap lining and the flap itself.
Here's the finished backpack.

The finished Pirate Backpack
Skull and crossbones lining!

Back view showing adjustable straps

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dolly Mixture baby set on Ravelry

I've decided to see if anyone's willing to pay for my patterns - I'll still be posting freebies too, but this baby set took a lot of working out to get right, so here goes! It's available as a Ravelry download for £2.50. It comes in one size only, hence the relatively low price - 18" chest, or approximate age 3 to 6 months, commonly known (at least in the UK) as "second size".
I made an alternative version suitable for a boy, minus the flower on the hat. The yarn I used is what inspired the name - the lavender colourway reminded me of those sweets we used to get as kids! The variegated yarns are Jarol New Arrival, which is available in lots of colour mixes, brights as well as pastels. The plain yarns are Woolcraft New Fashion, but any 100% DK yarn that knits to the required tension is fine - the most important thing is to match the plain yarn to one of the colours in the print yarn.

There are a couple of techniques used in this pattern that may be unfamiliar, but don't be put off - they are easy to learn.
The first is the I-cord, used for the hat ties - most US knitters will know this already, but UK knitters are more likely to know it as French Knitting or "corkwork". We used to make our own "Knitting Nancy" from a wooden cotton reel and four nails. The lucky ones among us had a manufactured version with staples, which was much easier to use. The I-cord is simply the same thing knitted on two double-pointed needles - see Knitting Daily blog here for instructions. You can use 3, 4 or 5 stitches depending on the thickness of cord required.
The second technique is the Cable cast on used in the hat - a good explanation of this technique can be found on the Knitting Daily blog here. This is a 2-needle cast-on which is more elastic than the normal method.
Happy knitting!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Classic 60s polo neck sweater

Steve Winwood in the original sweater
As usual I've been too busy knitting to write up my patterns - I really must make more effort! This sweater was made for a friend who's very much into the 60s Mod look, even though he's about 25 years too young to remember it! He'd asked me if I could make him a sweater like one he'd seen Steve Winwood wearing in a photo taken in about 1965, when Steve was with the Spencer Davis Group. (Who else remembers them? Come on, own up!). 
I've made a couple of minor changes - it looks as though the original was in Aran/worsted weight, which was a little heavy for Paul if he wanted to wear it on stage (he's the guitarist in a 60s tribute band, The Beat Rooms), so I used Jarol Heritage DK, which has a high wool content and is therefore more authentic than synthetic fibres. I also changed the shoulder line slightly as the dropped shoulder of the original would be uncomfortable under a jacket. Here's the pattern - it's very simple, with a cable repeat every 14 rows on both front and back.

Please note error in sleeve pattern now corrected 6 March 2014

Classic 1960s polo neck sweater

My version of Steve's sweater


700g Jarol Heritage DK – I used shade 100 Cream.

Pair size UK 10/3.25 mm needles

Pair size UK 8/4 mm needles

Set of size UK 9/3.75 mm double point needles for polo collar

Cable needle

2 stitch holders or spare needles


To fit chest 40” to 42” (actual measurement 44”)

Length 28”

Sleeve seam 19” plus turnback cuff

Back width across shoulders (between sleeve set-in seams) 16”


22 sts and 30 rows to 4” measured over stocking stitch on 4 mm needles.


Inc 1 st by knitting into back and front of same st

st st
stocking stitch
rem remaining
patt pattern RS right side
tog together WS wrong side
st(s) stitch(es) C8F slip next 4 sts onto cable needle, place at front of work, K next 4 sts, then K 4 sts from cable needle
inc increase
dec decrease
alt alternate


Using 3.25 mm needles, cast on 119 sts and work 3” (22 rows) rib as follows:

1st rib row: (K1, P1) to last st, K1.

2nd rib row: K1, (K1, P1) to last 2 sts, K2.

Inc row: Rib 4, (K2in, rib 11) 9 times. K2in, rib 6 (129 sts).

Change to 4 mm needles and work 14 row cable pattern as follows:

Marker added on cable row
1st, 3rd and 5th (RS) rows: (K35, P2, K8, P2) twice, K35

2nd and alt (WS) rows: (P35, K2, P8, P2) twice, P35

7th row: (K35, P2, C8F, P2) twice, K35 – place a marker on this row (a length of contrasting yarn will be fine).

9th, 11th and 13th rows – as 1st.

Repeat these 14 rows until work measures 18” or desired length to start of armhole decreasing. Move the marker to each new cable patt row as you work it.
Armhole shaping: Keeping continuity of cable pattern, cast off 4 sts at start of next 2 rows. Dec 1 st at each end of next 7 rows, then each alt 6 (RS) rows (95 sts rem).

Work straight until work measures 9½” from start of armhole decreasing, i.e. 27½” in total.

Shoulder shaping: Cast off 9 sts at start of next 4 rows, then 10 at start of nest 2 rows. Place rem 39 sts on stitch holder for neck.


Work as for back to end of armhole shaping. Work straight until work is 18 rows shorter than the back to start of shoulder shaping, thus ending with a WS row.

Divide for neck: Work 35 sts, turn, P2 tog and work to end. Working on these 34 sts only, dec 1 st at neck edge on next 3 rows, then on next 3 alt (RS) rows (28 sts).

Work 7 rows straight. With RS facing, cast off 9 sts at start of next and foll alt rows. Work 1 row. Cast off rem 10 sts.

Place centre 25 sts on stitch holder. Rejoin yarn to rem sts and complete other side of neck to match.

Sleeves (make 2 alike):

Using 3.25 mm needles, cast on 59 sts and work 5” (40 rows) rib as for back. If you prefer to omit the turnback, work 3” (22 rows).

Inc row: Rib 5, (K2 in, rib 7) 6 times, K2 in, rib 5 (66 sts).

Change to 4 mm needles and. working in st st throughout, inc 1 st (K2 in) at each end of 7th row and each following 8th row until there are 92 sts.

Work straight until work measures 21” (or 19” if you are omitting the turnback).

Shape top: cast off 4 sts at start of next 2 rows. Dec 1 st at each end of next and foll alt (RS) rows until there are 40 sts left. Dec each end of every row until 28 sts are left.

Cast off 3 sts at start of next 2 rows. Cast off rem 22 sts.
Back of sweater also has cable pattern

Polo collar:

Join shoulder seams.

Using 3.75 mm dpns or circular needle, and starting at left shoulder seam, pick up and knit 22 sts down left front neck, K across 25 sts from centre front, pick up and K 22 sts up right front neck, and finally K across 39 sts from back neck (108 sts). Work 6½” K1, P1 rib. Cast off loosely – use a needle 1 or 2 sizes larger.


Press pieces according to ball band instrucions. Set in sleeves, then join side and sleeve seams. Don't forget to stitch the lower 3” of the sleeve ribbing from the other side, as the cuffs will be turned back in wear. Press seams.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fair Isle – the fourth time around (at least)

Paul in his Magical Mystery Tour sweater
My Fair Isle waistcoat
It's true what they say – if you keep something long enough it will come back into fashion. This is certainly true of Fair Isle sweaters – they were popular in the 1940s, probably because wool (and it was wool!) was in short supply, so odd bits left over from other projects could be used up. I remember knitting my first Fair Isle in the late 60s, from a pattern based on a pullover worn by Paul McCartney, and when I saw The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, in which Paul sports another of his Fair Isle pullovers, again last year it got me thinking about knitting Fair Isle. Alas, the pattern and the pullover are long gone, but I found an old glove which I know I knitted in the same pattern, charted it and produced this long waistcoat. The basic waistcoat pattern was from a 1970s Falcon booklet. I'm including the chart, you can use it for any plain stocking stitch (stockinette) pattern but remember to centre the Fair Isle design on the pieces and bear in mind that you will probably need to use a size larger needles (or knit a size bigger) as stranded knitting tends to come up narrower than plain, and stretches less.

There are plenty of vintage patterns around for the good old Fair Isle sleeveless pullover, like this one reproduced on the Free Vintage Knitting site, but they are almost always designed to use 3-ply. OK, you could use modern 4-ply, such as Jarol Heritage, which is 50% wool and knits up pretty much like old 3-ply, but most people these days prefer something a bit thicker (and quicker!). 
There was another brief Fair Isle revival in the 80s, when I made a lot of stranded designs on the knitting machine - long since consigned to the garage as being too much trouble – you can't watch TV when you're using it, and the noise makes it pretty antisocial, not to mention the space it takes up.

In the last couple of years Fair Isle has made a big comeback, so if like me you have boxes full of leftover bits of DK in every colour under the sun, this is for you! You do need to make sure that the yarns you use all have similar fibre content, so I tend to stick to 100% acrylic – it's cheap, the colours don't run and it's easy to wash.

This is my basic V-neck sleeveless sweater, using a stitch pattern I used in the 80s in another long-lost sweater (I still have the matching hat!), but you could use any Fair Isle stitch pattern. Sheila McGregor's Traditional Fair Isle Knitting is a great source for patterns, or you could have a go at designing your own. I use MS Excel for charting, there's an excellent tutorial on Marnie Maclean's blog here.

V neck Fair Isle sweater instructions

Oops! forgot to include the centre front decrease instuctions when I posted this - error now corrected!  

Correction to tension 31 May 2013


Woolcraft New Fashion DK and/or Sirdar Hayfield Bonus DK (both 100% acrylic), or any suitable yarn that knits to the same tension:

Allow 150g main colour (dark grey) and 50g of each of 6 contrast colours.

Pair size UK10/3.25 mm straight needles

Pair size UK8/4 mm straight needles

Size UK10/3.25 circular needle or set of double pointed needles


To fit up to 42” (107 cm) bust/chest (actual measurement 44”/112 cm)

Length 25”/63.5 cm


24 sts and 28 rows to 4”/10 cm on larger needles.


Chart shows 12-st repeat plus 1st stitch


K        knit
P        purl
st st   stocking stitch
patt    pattern
tog     together
st(s)   stitch(es)
inc      increase
dec     decrease
RS      right side
WS     wrong side
rem    remaining


Using size 10/3.25 mm straight needles and MC, cast on 133 sts and work 3” in K1, P1 rib.

Change to larger needles and work in st st for 15” (or desired length to armholes), following chart and joining in/cutting contrast yarns as required.

Armhole decrease:

Taking care to keep continuity of patt, cast off 6 sts at start of next 2 rows, then dec 1 st at each end of next 7 rows and following 11 alt (RS) rows (85 sts).

Work straight until work measures 9½”/24 cm, ending with a WS row.

Shape shoulders and neck:

Next row: Cast off 9 sts, work to end of row.

Next row (left side of piece): Cast off 9 sts, P23 (inc loop left after cast off), turn.

Next row: Cast off 3 sts, K to end.

Next row: Cast off 9 sts, P to end.

Next row:Cast off 3 sts, K to end.

Cast off rem 9 sts and fasten off.

Place next 21 sts on a stitch holder for neck ribbing.

Rejoin yarn to rem sts on needle, cast off 3 sts, P to end.

Next row: Cast off 9 sts, P to end.

Next row:Cast off 3 sts, K to end.

Cast off rem 9 sts and fasten off.


Work exactly as for back until the piece is 15 rows shorter than the back to the armhole shaping, thus ending with a RS row.

Divide for neck: P66, turn and work on these sts for left side of piece.

Dec 1 st at start of next and foll 4th rows. At the same time, when you have worked 16 rows from the start of the neck shaping, cast off 6 sts at the armhole edge. Continuing to dec at the neck edge on every 4th row, dec 1 st at the armhole edge on the next 7 rows, then on the next 11 alt rows.

Continue to dec at neck edge until there are 27 sts left, then work straight until front matches back to shoulder shaping.

Cast off 9 sts at start of next 2 WS rows. Work 1 row then cast off rem 9 sts and fasten off.

Place next st on needle (the centre stitch) on a small safety pin. Rejoin yarn and work other half of front to match the side already completed.

Armhole ribbing:

Join both shoulder seams.

With size 10/3.25 mm straight needles, pick up 129 sts evenly along the front and back of the armhole edge and work 7 rows K1, P1 ribbing. Cast off using larger needle.

Neck ribbing:

With size 10/3.25 mm circular or double pointed needles, pick up sts evenly along the neck edge as follows:
Starting at the right back of the neck, 7 sts down slope at back of neck, 21 from stitch holder at centre back neck, 7 sts up slope at left back neck, 76 down left front, 1 st from safety pin place marker on this st – a short length of contrast waste yarn will do the job), 76 up left front (188 sts).
Work 7 rounds K1, P1 ribbing, working S2KP (double decrease) on centre front three sts on every round. Cast off using larger needle, working the double decrease as on previous rounds.


Press lightly according to ball band instructions. Join side seams and weave in ends – it is best to weave in ends after joining the seams so they can be hidden in the seams. Press side seams.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Variation on a theme - another version of the Celtic Cable sweater vest

No pattern this time as such, I just wanted to post about the new version of the Celtic Cable Sweater Vest I've recently finished. I was pleased to see lots of interest in this patttern, especially the hat - I'm in the process of making/designing more hats and other accessories, which I'm intending to put on Ravelry later.
This time I used a dark grey marl DK yarn, again unbranded, but possibly Jarol Heritage, a colour I can wear with my red, green and purple tops. I substituted an extended Saxon Braid panel, flanked with double rope cables, with the number of stitches adding up to 54 as in the pattern. Although I had visualised the braid, I found that someone had already worked out the stitch pattern, so I can't really claim it as my own - see The Barrington Braid here.

I made the collar the same as before, with hidden buttons and buttonholes at the front edge of the collar so it can be fastened right up.

Detail of the cable pattern is shown on the right.

Happy cabling!