Monday, 26 November 2012

Knitting Necklaces

Next week I shall be running a workshop to help people knit necklaces to this pattern, which I adapted from one I found in a library book, it's quite different from the original, so I feel it was my inspiration, but so heavily modified I don't feel bad in claiming it as mine.  There has been much interest from knitters in this idea, so I thought I would share the pattern for anyone who wishes to use it!
It is worked from this chart, threading the beads onto the yarn before starting to knit, putting the beads on the yarn in reverse order to which they will be knitted.
The above picture shows quite clearly how the beads are distributed, including the 20-30 beads each side of the central motif and showing how the feature beads can be included to make the lower edge more interesting.

You will need:-
1 pair 2/2.5mm needles
Ball of Goldfingering or skein of Perle embroidery thread
Quantity of small round beads (with large enough hole to thread on chosen yarn)
Optional - 7 feature beads for lower edge

Start by threading the beads on to your yarn , in reverse order to which you will knit them. ie the first bead to go on is the last one to be put on the yarn. Follow the chart, remembering to thread on 20-25 beads each side of the row of beads that form the lower edge of the necklace. 
The easiest way to thread the beads on is thus:- Thread a fine sewing needle with a short doubled length of ordinary sewing thread, thread the start of the knitting yarn through the loop of the doubled thread so that it hangs down and you have a loop of knitting yarn through the loop of the sewing thread. You can now start threading the beads onto the needle, and thence onto the yarn.

Cast on by the backward loop method, this enables the beads to hang loosely between the stitches and drape properly.

Cast on 3 stitches, slide 1st bead up to needle, cast on 2 sts, slide up next bead, continue thus till you have 20 - 25 beads cast on, then cast on 2 sts between each of the groups of beads at the centre of the necklace (one,two,three, four, five, six, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. If desired, one feature bead at the centre of each odd numbered group) Then cast on 2 sts between each as before till you have another 20 -25 beads on the second side of the centre, then cast on a further 3 sts, turn.

2nd row, knit till 3 sts beyond the last bead of the central group, wrap & turn (move yarn to front of work as if to purl, slip next stitch on to right needle, pass yarn back to other side of work, replace slipped stitch back onto left needle and turn to start working back in other direction. written as 'W&T')
3rd row, knit 5 sts, knit to end of 2nd row of chart, inserting beads as chart - you will find yourself setting in beads exactly above the previous ones. one bead less per group. When all beads have been knitted in, knit 3, W&T.

4th row, knit till 3 sts past the last bead in previous row, W&T.

5th row, W&Ting at the end of the row, continue as before from the chart till all rows of the chart are worked and you've run out of beads (assuming you counted right!)
When all beads are knitted continue to end of row, turn and knit one row, then cast off loosely.

Sew hook & eye fastenings to each end, then wash gently in hand hot water, use a little fabric conditioner in the final rinse and pat dry in a towel. Hang to dry by fastening, this helps the necklace to hang properly in wear. 
 Hopefully, the photographs will give you an idea of how adaptable this pattern can be, it depends on your choice of yarn and beads! The last example is knitted with multicoloured perle embroidery thread, which gives quite a lot of pzazz! If you have any problems, don't hesitate to email me for help at, and feel free to pass the pattern around!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Bears & Beasties

Just over a year ago I returned to making artist bears, Which I had done from 1997 - 2005, when arthritis & RSI put a stop to it. After my accident in 2007, I thought such things were forever out of reach, so attempting my first sewn bear in 6 years was quite a big deal!  I don't expect to ever be able to make anything as grand as my lovely alpaca pandas, of which I am extremely proud, but one has to start somewhere!
Sunflower was one of the first of my new career in bear making, 2.5 inches tall, I was thrilled to be able to create him! Over the past year I have gradually pushed my boundaries, and had to admit that doing my favoured, traditional button joints is too much strain on tired & damaged hands, so I now  mostly use split pin joints, like those in the early manufactured bears, and used by most bear artists.  I am disappointed, but being able to make jointed bears of any sort is a truly satisfying thing for me, so - onward & upward!
Returning to using luscious mohair & alpaca fabrics has also been a joy, Feargus may be smaller than my big alpaca pandas, but I think he is truly in the same spirit, and we all know the best things come in small packages! I'm glad to say that he has been adopted by people who clearly appreciate my work, as they have also adopted others of my bears and encouraged others to do the same! (Thank you, Lisa!)
When I was running the original 'Orkid Bears' I also made other creatures and cloth dolls, which I would like to try later on, but I have, at least, started down that road by making the first elephants since 2004!
First, in lilac, sparse mohair (with button joints!)
Secondly, in 'cashmere'velvet. Generally, I'm fairly happy with the pattern, but the ears need adjusting in their cut - they're a bit too much like flags!  Next time I will enlarge the pattern and make a bigger version - Cielo & Flora are only about 5 inches tall.
The next creatures I have to put my revived designing skills to is dragons! This is the most complex dragon I made in my earlier incarnation as a bear artist - not sure i can manage something that complex just yet, but, with my Welsh heritage, I really have to make a dragon of some sort! So, watch this space :o)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ongoing evolution.

Finally got my own website up! Take a peek at, still some things to be tweaked, but now you don't have to trawl through Etsy to find my cuddly friends and adopt one!

In other news, have also managed to make real another idea, that's been in the back of my mind for ages - Jeffery's charming drawings of my bears on tee shirts for little people!  Tee shirts in tiny sizes are difficult to get hold of at reasonable prices, so I'm printing body suits (like a vest, but with poppers to hold it down between the legs) with long or short sleeves - more practical, anyway.  I'm focusing on babies at the moment, but will do adult sizes on request.

I have sent out my second monthly newsletter today - let me know if you'd like one in your inbox, too. As the cold weather creeps up on us, my output is likely to slow down, arthritis doesn't much like cold and damp :(

 I'm focusing entirely on the bears now, knitting is for my own satisfaction only, now!  However, in response to a wave of requests, I'm running a workshop on making my knitted necklaces next month, still have a couple of places if you want to join us. On the 4th December, at Sue's Crafts in Cheltenham 10-4, get in touch if you're interested.
Also considering running a year of monthly workshops on bear making next year, have a couple of people interested, how about you? We'll start with a simple velvet bear, then work on to jointing, etc, going through stuffing techniques, needle sculpting, fabric choices, and anything else people need help with!