Here’s a new free pattern ‘Tess’ for this cowl which I made for my son’s girlfriend this Christmas. The instructions are in written and chart form. I used ‘Karisma’ a DK yarn from Drops, but I think it would be equally gorgeous in all manner of yarns – and especially luxurious in something like Merino light or DK from Madelinetosh!  It is worked very loosely and the gauge isn’t too important. In my sample it is a generous 14in wide and 65in long (all the way round)

The free pattern is available from my Ravelry Store or to download here <a href=”http://www.ravelry.com/dls/hanna-woods-designs/315751?filename=TESS.pdf”>download now</a>

 

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During my numerous trips to Bulgaria I have been inspired by their rich knitting tradition, especially their stranded colour work which, though similar to ours from Fair Isle, does have a distinct Bulgarian/East European flavour of its own.
I began working on a design for a tunic while surrounded by the Bulgarian landscape, occasionally being lucky to find an old Babushka sitting on a bench outside her home, knitting traditional slipper-socks. (These are usually offered you to wear when entering a house – everyone takes off their outdoor shoes as few rural households have vacuum cleaners).
In my design I have muted the traditionally bright and bold colour palette of Bulgarian stranded colour work a little, while hopefully retaining the feel of Bold and Bright!
Here is a glimpse of what’s to come (plus some traditional Bulgarian knitwear):

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CLOGS!

Having just finished knitting these enormous creatures, I put them outside my door last night with a note: ‘Waiting for St Nicholas’

This morning a lovely little bunch of spring flowers had been left inside! How nice that someone knew what I’d meant 🙂

Since then I have had them tumbling about in the washing machine at 40C to felt, then pulled and pushed them into shape and now they are drying in the late March sunshine, together with several other pairs.  They are based on a clever design Bev Galeskas called Felted Clogs.

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Bulgarian knitting

I have been spending some time looking at Bulgarian traditional folk knitting. Every year a van comes round the villages collecting the fleeces from those who still keep sheep (this has visibly dwindled since I first went there 6-7 years ago). A few months later the van reappears with spun yarn. Un-dyed yarn costs less than coloured yarn – the payment is simply in numbers of fleeces.

Everyone wears some form of slippers indoors, often hand knitted slipper-socks, which are handed to you at the door. Often you are given several pairs as gifts!

These pictures are of more elaborate socks, part of the bridal trousseau – apparently never worn!

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As I am once again off to Bulgaria, I hope to work on something inspired by these patterns:

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A twisty cardi

I’ve been knitting this very asymmetrical garment, designed by Judy Brien because the way its constructed fascinates me. One sleeve is much higher than the other and its full of short row shaping, lots of bubbles and wedges…. Can it possibly work?

Now its finished and a part of me loves it, while another realises that I won’t be totally happy wearing it – somehow it pulls too much and ruches up, making the bubbles and wedges settle in the wrong places. I’ve almost decided to frog the upper body and even it out into a more wearable garment….  but first I need to decide quite how I want it to look….?

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Cashmere sweater at last

I began this blog with the beginnings of this jumper but something wasn’t right, so I fogged it, soaked and re-wound the yarn and finally re-designed and knitted it again.  The pattern reminds me of the beautiful wavy marks the sea leaves on the sand ……. is there a word for this? I still need a name, so any suggestions with this in mind would be most welcome.

I will publish the pattern on Ravelry as soon as it’s had its final polish  – and of course a name!

Ripples in the sand jumper

A Bulgarian holiday

I’m just back from a rather wonderful holiday in Bulgaria. It was far too hot to knit and anyway there seemed so much to do and enjoy, not least the gloriously hot sunny days with blue skies above – HEAVEN!

My friend Angela and I flew to Plovdiv and we discovered a beautiful and inspiring old town with a web of cobbled streets and beautifully preserved/restored old houses. One is a pharmacy from the early 1800s where sumptuous pink, blue and turquoise glass bottles still stand on the shelves and instruments for making pills are next to large pestle and mortars.

In another house we found beautiful old Bulgarian knitwear  – this needs to be archived for future reference!

I am lucky enough to have a house north of the Balkan mountains and this year’s addition is an old style Bulgarian bread oven, a ‘фурна’ (furna) or печка (petchka) – to create a ‘summer kitchen’ –  made by my gifted restorer/ builder and artist friend Drago. Here is its first firing… (and unintended smoking of cherry tree)…..by the third try we produced some amazingly good wood-fired pizzas!

On the way we found fields of sunflowers, some of which fulfilled my dream of holding a huge bunch of them and filling up vases all around the house!

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I was welcomed back home to our home in Dorset with a vase full of late summer roses by my soul-mate Peter  –  I feel so blessed and filled with inspirations for months to come!

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