Ravishing Ranunculus Sweater FO September 2020

Ravishing Ranunculus Sweater FO September 2020

Ranunculus Sweater FO September 2020

Last weekend, almost by accident, I cast on for a Ranunculus Sweater. I was using some very deep stash, Sirdar Romance in colour 150 Khaki which has a fine gold thread running through it and feels almost cashmere soft. It’s a surprise as it’s a very cheap yarn bought in the sales.

Ranunculus Sweater – about the pattern

It’s by Midori Hirose and has two files for the English version one up to a 49″ finished chest and the other to cover plus sizes with the largest finished measurement being 65″ chest. Depending on the fit you want, that could fit up to a 65″ chest with no ease or a 48″ chest with a LOT of ease.

Ranunculus Sweater Neckline Options

It’s knit top down, in the round with two options for the neckline, a narrower neck and a wider neckline. I chose the wider neckline and I’m very happy with that. My first cast on, which I ripped out, was the narrower neckline but I soon realised that I needed to go up to a 7.5mm needle for the body and 8mm for sleeves. I didn’t do the front neck short rows but I did do the back neck short row shaping.

Ranunculus Sweater Sleeves

I didn’t pick up as many underarm stitches for the sleeves as I knew I was going to be very tight on yarn, other than that, I knitted the sleeves to 9 inches, changed to 5mm needles and worked 5 rows k1, p1 ribbing then cast off in rib pattern.

Ranunculus Sweater Body

I knitted the body to 14 inches from the underarm, worked 4 rows in k1, p1 ribbing using the same needles as the body, then used a stretchy bind purl bind off.

I am super pleased with it, as those of you who watch our videos on YouTube or Facebook will know, I am a Slimming World member and losing weight gradually. I tried the sweater on and it’s a good fit with very little ease, but on Victoria who is a 38″chest it’s just nice. It’ll fit me for a while and as I drop a few sizes, it’ll still be a good fit.

View my project on Ravelry

Yarns suitable for Ranunculus are:

Baby Knits and a design journey

Baby Knits and a design journey

Baby Knits and a design journey – what I started with and how my design ended up

It depends on the design, sometimes I doodle with the yarn, swatch and play around and the yarn tells me what it wants to be. That’s easy, it’s intuitive and pretty much always works out.

Other times, I have a vision in mind, in this case a dress with a bib/bodice top and a lace skirt. I started knitting the skirt bottom up and in the round. I wanted to keep the piece as a seamless dress, minimum finishing.

Mary Eleanor Dress Pattern
Mary Eleanor Dress Pattern

Baby Knits and a design journey – Version 1

Version 1 was knitted half a dozen times as I perfected the shaping of the bib/bodice to make it easier to knit and reduce the finishing as much as possible. There is a neckband at the front to pick up, but that’s the only time you pick up and knit any stitches.

Baby Knits and a design journey – Yarn Choices

My go to for baby projects would normally be Stylecraft Special DK where I know that the Mum is busy, hasn’t time to hand wash and won’t need to worry about the item being washable. In this case I had a bag of several colours of Patons 100% Cotton DK, no two the same and wanted to design something using a cotton yarn.

The thought being that it could be a 3 season layering piece in cotton, cotton/bamboo or acrylic/cotton blends. In a superwash wool yarn, it would be suitable for Winter worn over a long sleeved top or sweater.

I’m not a yarn snob and I truly believe that the right yarn for the project has to be suited to the recipient, how they need to care for it and fit their lifestyle. I use a lot of blended yarns, acrylics and cottons for baby knits and prefer superwash wool to non washable wool. That’s my choice. For tea cozies, I’d like a roving wool which is easy to felt and will keep my tea warm.

Baby Knits and a design journey – Version 2

Version 2 was after discussion with the Testers they preferred the idea of buttons on the fronts and straps on the back with buttonholes. A quick bit of editing and a change to narrow the neck (more stitches for the straps) and it was perfect.

Test knitting is for me, a vital part of perfecting the design but also in getting the explanations right so that knitters can follow the instructions easily. I break down the sections of the pattern so it’s clear which part you are working on, try and make any shaping as easy as possible, chart them where needed and ensure it’s really obvious what you need to do.

I narrowed the neckline to make a better fit, but kept the wider shoulders which should be an inch or so wider than the child’s shoulders. Partly for layering but also to allow for the differences in kids. I was a skinny child but my brother was a chunky kid. We’re all different and the best advice I can give is to knit the bodice/bib to fit the child and make the skirt longer or shorter to suit their shape. All the measurements are included in the pattern so to some extent you can pick and mix, but allow extra yarn if you are adding length at all.

Baby Knits and a design journey, the skirt of the Mary Eleanor Dress

The pattern is available to buy in our online shop on the website, in our Ravelry Shop or our Payhip Shop. 25% off until 31st August with code babybeautiful

There’s no coded needed in our online shop on this site, the pattern is already discounted to make it easier for you.

If you’d like me to chat more about our design process, yarn choices etc, do let me know and what patterns you’d like me to feature.

Thanks, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter or watch us live on Facebook.

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs 17-08-2020

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs 17-08-2020

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs and clear time for gift knitting or selfish knitting.

Project Planning

How to create the perfect plan to finish your wips and clear time to make the things you love. When your hobby is also a part of your business, it’s hard to separate the two. I would end up knitting or crocheting constantly when I had a deadline and struggling to make anything I wanted for myself, or to gift.

I’ve started to plan my knitting/crochet time to make sure I have some time every week to work on projects for me, or for gifting later in the year. That way I can keep up with my knitting for Christmas (yes I said it, I’m sorry) and at the same time keep to my design work deadlines.

I like to clear my needles/hooks by the end of October so I can focus on the Indie Design Gift Along. I always have something on the go, in the naughty corner or waiting for me to come back to it. Those things are gathered together and will wait until January for some attention.

I knit or crochet every day. Crochet-wise I tend to make blankets (handy for baby gifts or for around the house) or garments for myself (usually cardigans or sweaters). Knitting-wise I’ll knit most things apart from toys, fiddly stuff and socks. I do love wearing hand knit socks but the thought of those tiny needles and vast number of stitches/rows per inch makes my head explode.

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs - Vera Sweater Test Knit

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs – Work Days vs Me Days

Monday to Friday is usually work knitting during the day and often in the evening if it’s something I can still make while watching TV or a movie. If it’s something I need to look at while I’m working on it, I tend to listen to audio books (work related during the day and fiction at night).

Weekends are for me, knitting or crochet and any gift items I’m working on. Over the last year two of my nieces have had babies and both wanted blankets and cardigans for their little ones.

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs – What Will Make ME Stick to the Plan?

It depends on your motivation. What type of person you are and why you start something, then don’t finish it. I work a lot better with an actual deadline that’s set in stone, no flexibility, no excuses. It keeps me accountable.

Are you a people pleaser who can’t say no to any request? Tell yourself you are going to finish Project X this week/month and make yourself accountable to a family member or friend who will hold you to it and encourage you.

Are you a rebel who will deliberately not finish it because it’s for you? You need to find a reason why completing Project X matters to you. Why is it important? How will you feel if you don’t get it done? Are there consequences?

I want to empty my needles/hooks in time for the Gift Along so I can enjoy the event (which does involve a stack of work on my part with Team Bundle and acting as a Moderator during the event).

I want to be able to knit or crochet some gifts as part of the event, to support other designers, because I enjoy doing it and so Christmas isn’t such a mad rush of panic buying things people don’t want, need or that I can’t afford. Money or time are powerful motivators. What motivates you?

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs – Using Ravelry to Track Your Projects, Progress and Goals

I love Ravelry and track pretty much all my projects, designs and goals using their free tools. I can also add goals for the year, say a set number of projects for 2020 to be completed. This year I’ve completed 33 projects with a target or challenge to complete 50.

Once I’ve added my projects, I’ll upload photos in progress, the finished item when it’s done and I always try to add the following info:

  • Date started and date finished
  • Size made and any modications I’ve made for a better fit
  • Yarn used, amounts/yardage, dye lots, colour names etc
  • Gauge/Tension – mine my differ from the pattern
  • Needles or hooks used – may not be the same as the pattern as my gauge/tension could be different
  • Public notes on sizing, fit, issues with the pattern, errata, things I got right or wrong. Public notes help others with any pattern issues, badly worded or explained sections or how to do a modification you made to the pattern.
  • Private notes if it’s a design in progress and I need to track stitch counts, rows per section etc for the pattern but not the public.
  • Tags – the usual such as cardigan, top-down etc or it might be tag for a KAL or CAL #cowlabung2020 for example
  • Who is it for? When is it due? (Finish by date can be added).
How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs - Vera Sweater test knit, a test has a deadline to make me accountable.
My Vera Sweater Test Knit for Emma is a larger project as it’s an adult sized garment and takes longer to make. I blocked off more time to make this compared to say a small project like a baby hat. As a Test Knit, it has a deadline I have to meet, which helps keep me on track.

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs – Sharing to stay accountable

I like to share projects with my Woolly Madly Deeply Group on Ravelry and the Knitting Across The Pennines group I run with Emma Sadler. Members of the group will encourage me to finish the item and keep me on track.

When I add yarn info I link it the yarn to the source on Ravelry. If you browse projects using that yarn, my project would then be in the list and you’d see how I got on with that yarn, was it suitable for the project, did it pill?

You can learn a lot from project notes about fit, pattern issues, how to change a pattern to fit you etc by browsing projects made with the yarn you are using. How cool is that?

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs – Project Size

Always have some instant gratification projects in the mix, hats, cowls, toys or other small items that are quick to knit / crochet and give you a productivity boost when they’re finished.

Larger projects take longer, you need to either start them sooner, or block out enough time to finish them. Better to finish early than not at all.

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs – Do you love it or loathe it?

That’s an excellent question. If you loathe it, why are you making it? If it’s for someone other than you, can you make another item that you like a lot more as a compromise?

If you love it, great, carry on and keep knitting, crocheting or crafting through to the end, it’ll be worth every minute.

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs – Prioritise

List your projects in the order they need to be completed. You can balance your time between larger and smaller projects to get to your end goals. Once you know what the goals and deadlines are.

Anything with a deadline should be higher up the list than something you’d just like to make sometime, someday.

Does it mean you need to buy yarn? If so, when do you need to order that to be able to finish in time?

Can you use up stash? Stash busting projects are higher up on my list because I’d like more space in my home for new yarn, I can only get that by using the existing yarn.

Have you got the pattern / book etc to hand? Do you need to print it? Load it to another device like an iPad or Kindle? When I add patterns to my Ravelry library, I add a note as to where the actual physical pattern is on my book shelf, or which magazine it’s in so I can find it when I want it.

How to create the perfect plan to finish your WIPs – Join a Knit Along (KAL, a Crochet Along (CAL) or a Finish Along (FAL)

Joining in a challenge to make something within a set deadline period to win prizes can make you more accountable. Chatting to others in the group and encouraging one another helps immensely.

That’s an excellent question. If you loathe it, why are you making it? If it’s for someone other than you, can you make another item that you like a lot more as a compromise?

If you love it, great, carry on and keep knitting, crocheting or crafting through to the end, it’ll be worth every minute.

Some things aren’t meant to be finished

You loved it once, you don’t love it now. Put it away for a while, you might want to finish it later, find your mojo or decide to frog it (rip out the knitting or crochet). That’s okay too. Don’t beat yourself up, your style may have changed, you might be allergic to the yarn but weren’t when you started. It might not fit any more, that’s all fine. Admitting it, letting it go and moving the yarn back into stash to use on another project is awesome.

What tips would you like to share that keep you on track with your knitting or crochet projects? I’d love to hear from you.


Vera Sweater V Neck for Emma

Vera Sweater V Neck for Emma

Emma showed me her Vera sweater months ago and I may have been pestering her to get on with finishing the pattern and starting the test knits. She launched the test knitting last night and I signed up to make the 42″ chest which will give me no ease at the bust. I may also, with permission as it’s a test knit, be adding a bit of hip shaping to accommodate my curves so the lower body will be a larger size. I’d tell you which size, but being a lady, it would be impolite to mention it 🙂

Vera Sweater V Neck using Lanas Stop Bambini
Vera Sweater – a basic, everyday V neck which will probably be my go-to for this Winter.

Emma made her sweater using West Yorkshire Spinners sock yarn in a pale grey and with a patterned colourway for the sleeves, I think it works really well to add interest and you could use up a bag of sock yarn leftovers for the sleeves.

Emma's sample garment for the Vera Sweater in WYS sock yarn

Yarn choices for the Vera Sweater

I do have a vast stash of yarn, but we won’t talk about that right now … So, after a bit of stash diving, okay a lot of stash diving, I decided to use Lanas Stop Bambini in Antique Rose as my main colour.

Lanas Stop Bambini Antique Pink 320
Lanas Stop Bambini Antique Pink 320

I still need to choose a contrast colour for the sleeves and that may be either Araucania Ranco sock yarn or some Drops Fabel or Delight yarn. The Araucania may be put to one side as it’s handwish and the Lanas Stop is machine washable. I am not great at hand washing items, they lay in the basket forever waiting. Do you hand wash your knits?

Would you like to test knit the Vera Sweater?

I’m including a link to the Ravelry thread where Emma is running the test knit, you can sign up there if you’re interested.

Mary Eleanor Dress Pattern in Testing

Mary Eleanor Dress Pattern in Testing

My amazing team of test knitters are knitting a cute dress design I’ve been working on. The dress is worked bottom up, in the round for the skirt which features a pretty lacy pattern. We changed colour (optional) for the upper bodice of the dress which features a garter waist band and a pretty dot stitch bib, patterned front and back. Front and back are worked separately and flat, no seaming though as the shoulders have 3 little button on each side. You’ll have a few ends to weave in, but not many.

Who is the Mary Eleanor Dress pattern named after?

Mary Eleanor was my great Aunt, called Ciss by most people, she was my Granddad’s older sister. I have many happy childhood memories of visiting Great Gran and Ciss, who spoiled us rotten, made our favourite foods and gave the best cuddles.

Ciss never married, but was the best Mum ever to her many nephews and their families. She was much-loved and is still much-missed.

Mary Eleanor Dress by Loraine Birchall for Woolly Madly Deeply
Mary Eleanor Dress by Loraine Birchall for Woolly Madly Deeply, photo copyright Loraine Birchall

I used an affordable 100% cotton yarn to knit the Mary Eleanor Dress. I chose Patons 100% Cotton DK in two colours, Kiwi and Almond. They yarn is hard on the hand while knitting but softens on washing and has a subtle sheen to it. I’ll be making another for my cousin’s little girl, Isla, probably using some Stylecraft Special DK. Isla likes pink, purple and blue and looks fabulous in cool colours. The Stylecraft Special DK will be easy to wash for her busy Mum and wear well.

What colours would you use?

Would you like to test knit this pattern?

I still have room for a couple of testers to knit the age 4-5yr and 6-7yr sizes. If interested, sign up here

Loraine is working on the sample in this episode of our vlog.

Sign up for news and pattern updates

Crafting during Covid kept me sane and happy in 2020

Crafting during Covid kept me sane and happy in 2020

Have you been crafting during Covid? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been crafting a lot more during the Covid lockdown. I work from home most days on either my designs, volunteering in my community and dealing with orders as they come in. But, for me, crafting is my joy.

My first project was my go-to when I’m stressed and that’s to crochet a blanket. I had some of Lucy at Attic 24’s colour packs in the house, which I have gathered over several years with a few projects in mind. I love Autumn colours and was immediately drawn to the Woodland Blanket Pack. I didn’t want to crochet the ripple blanket, but I did love the Granny Stripe Blanket. I find it relaxing to crochet stripes, it’s easy, it’s repetitive and it kept my brain calm during the stressful days immediately following our lockdown.

Crafting during covid, crocheted Woodland Granny Stripe Blanket
Woodland Granny Stripe Blanket

The first full day of lockdown here was my birthday and my son and I were both ill with suspected Covid19 and felt dreadful. It was a good two to three weeks before either of us felt well again and probably another month after that before we got back our sense of taste and smell. We both feel very lucky to have recovered but he bounced back a lot faster than I did being young and fit.

Knitting and Crafting Along Through Covid

At the time, Emma Sadler and I had just launched our first Cowlabunga KAL event and I had to tidy myself up for the launch live on Facebook on 19th March. I felt like death warmed up, but plenty of painkillers and hot tea did help, even if I couldn’t taste any of it. We made the choice that week to try and get online and chat live on most days during the first month of lockdown.

We missed one day out of 30 but kept going most days per week and gradually tapered off to the Thursday night and Sunday afternoon we are doing now. From 14th February, our first live on FB, we’re completed our 72nd live/session on Sunday 28th June. Our videos are loaded onto our YouTube Channel and you can see them here.

Yarndale, Woolfest and my Lady Mary Hat

Emma, our friend Helen and I were due to meet last Friday/Saturday for Woolfest. We had cleared the two days and booked our accommodation etc. I was upset to see it was cancelled due to Covid19 but completely understood it was the right decision to make. The last time we met up was at Yarndale where I bought this amazing hat from Felt By Bridget.

Lady Mary Hat from Yarndale, felted by Bridget
My gorgeous hat by Felt By Bridget, I absolutely love it and it reminds me so much of the amazing day we spent together at Yarndale in 2019.

Crafting for me

I wanted to knit myself some Summer tops and love Jutta Hinterm Stein’s patterns. She released a new one for testing last week called Hot in the City and I’m helping to test the pattern. I’m using some Drops Belle in the Moss Green colourway. It’s a fabulous yarn, softens with washing and wears really well.

Roll over the Top test knit for Jutta Hinterm Stein

I am about a third of the way through knitting Tidewater by Laura Aylor, this is in 4ply using some Bamboo Cotton 4ply in the Verde colourway, a zingy, green. I added sleeves but they’re not in the pattern, but I do prefer to keep my upper arms under wraps.

Tidewater by Laura Aylor, crafting for me
Tidewater using Bamboo Cotton 4ply in a bright, zingy green, it’s a bit grey in this photo though.

Last week I finished knitting my Edie top, by Isabell Kraemer, it’s my go-to knit for Summer and I’ve made one with Drops Belle, one with some Wendy Cotton/Silk dk and now this one with the Bamboo Cotton 4ply in Coral. I will get a photo of me wearing it, I promise but I do wear it in our Live on FB and YouTube on 25th June.

Edie by Isabell Kraemer, using bamboo cotton 4ply
Edie by Isabelle Kraemer

Crafting for Carers

I did crochet about 50 of the mask/ear savers using some Rowan All Season’s Cotton in a light green. I used up all my 1/2inch and 1inch button stash on them but hopefully they made life a bit more comfortable for the Doctors and Nurses at local surgeries.

Crafting during Covid kept me sane and happy in 2020 10

What did you make during lockdown? Did it help you to relax and feel better during all the upheaval?

Say Hi on Facebook and let me know, I’d love to see your craft projects.


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