Mrs Miniver Returns!

My ongoing series of art socks is currently having its second solo show, this time in a local art gallery, The Spring in Havant, Hampshire. As well as those pieces that I showed at Prick Your Finger last spring, there are three new additions to the series.

The Sherlock Holmes sock, as it was then called was in its infancy last April and has grown somewhat and been rechristened ‘The Gathering Mystery of the Silk Sock’.

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book was the inspiration behind the smallest piece in the show, ‘The Progression of Nobody Owens’.

The most recent new work is Hodbins-All! which if you are a fan of the works of Connie Willis, you might have more than an inkling about already.

I will be sharing a little more of the stories behind the three new pieces over the next couple of weeks, but if you are local and would like to visit in person, the exhibition is on in the Sadler Gallery at The Spring until March 24th. If you are coming to the Stitch and Craft show at Olympia on Saturday 19th March, I will be giving a talk about the Mrs Miniver series at 10.30am too.

All photographs taken by my lovely chap, Giles and copyright Giles Babbidge Photography.


Throwing a Lifeline

In a recent discussion on the Ravelry board for A Stitch in Time volume 1, the issue of lifelines came up in relation to the pattern Knitter’s Delight.
As you can see from the image of Knitter’s Delight, above, it is a lace pattern. This is where the lifelines come in… If you have never knitted lace because you are worried about messing up the pattern, or if you have tried and struggled and ended up ripping it out, then you need to know what lifelines are.
Used under Creative Commons from The Bees (Thanks, Annie!)
A lifeline, in knitting terms is a safety net which provides a place to unravel your knitting back to if you make a mistake. You can see from the image above that this knitter has used a contrasting piece of crochet cotton, threaded through the stitches at a point where her lace pattern changes charts.
You might choose to use a lifeline after each lace repeat or half repeat if it is a large complicated one. Lifelines are predominantly used in lace knitting because it is difficult to tink (knit backwards to unpick) or unravel the multiple yarn-overs and k2togs that make up the pattern. However, they are a really good addition to any complicated knitting pattern, especially one using a technique that you are trying out for the first time. There’s nothing stopping you adding lifelines to your fair isle, cables or anything else you fancy.
Used under Creative Commons from Dave’s Portfolio
But how do you add a lifeline?
You already know that it is an extra, separate piece of yarn threaded through a row. It should be threaded through the live stitches either by using the piece of yarn on a darning needle after you have completed the last row of the repeat, or if you have interchangeable needles, you can put the yarn through the tightening hole in the cable and knit it through the last row as you go.  It is possible to add a lifeline further down your knitting by using a darning needle, but this makes it more fiddly to catch all of the increase and decrease stitches.
Top tip: be careful not to thread your lifeline through a stitch marker, or it will not be possible to slip the marker on the next row.

The knitter whose work you saw in the picture above used a contrasting cotton crochet thread, so it would both be easy to see and also to remove from the knitting afterwards. Linen thread and waxed dental floss are also good to use. If you don’t have any of these handy, just make sure that you use a yarn that is a lighter weight than the main yarn you are knitting with and that it has a smooth finish.

All you need to do to rip back to the lifeline is to slip the knitting from the needles, carefully unravel the knitting (this may be more difficult if you have something which has mohair in it, like Kidsilk Haze). Once you get to the lifeline, you won’t be able to unravel any further. This is the point where you will need to put the knitting back onto your needles. Carefully insert the needle into the first stitch that has the lifeline through it, and pop it onto the needle. You can either take the lifeline out of each stitch as you go along, leave it til the last one is done, or just leave it in to continue being a lifeline (I prefer leaving it in, especially if I’ve gone wrong once!) Move on to the next stitch, popping it onto the needle and continue until you get to the end of the row. You will be left with a correctly knitted row which will have no dropped or twisted stitches.

Basically then you continue on as you were before, and if you make another mistake that warrants frogging a few rows, you have a lifeline there still.

The Peapod Sloucher


The Peapod Sloucher, copyright Ingrid Murnane

I’m very pleased to announce that I have a new pattern available. I designed and knitted it up just before Christmas because I wanted a hat that would cover up my rather large hair (have you seen it when I leave it curly?) However, as not everyone wants a big slouchy hat, I have included a smaller version which makes a great beanie (or a child’s slouchy hat).

Knitted in the round on a circular needle, it has an unfussy textured pattern. Even the large size can be knitted from just one skein of either Cascade 220 or Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted so it makes for good stashbusting too. You can see the hat’s pattern page on Ravelry here.


The Peapod Sloucher - back view, copyright Ingrid Murnane

The Peapod Sloucher is available through Ravelry as a pdf download for £2.50, and the good news is that you can buy and download the pattern on Ravelry even if you aren’t a member.

Knitting Classes at the Mary Rose Museum

I’m going to be teaching a range of knitting and textile classes at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth in February and March 2011.

If you’re in the Portsmouth area, you can learn to knit (or refresh your skills) with me on either February or March 5th (or both if you’re keen!)

There are only 10 places on each course, so if you’d like to book one for you or somebody else, please do get in touch with Fiona, pronto, as detailed above.

The classes are running as part of the education programme that goes alongside their latest exhibition The Tudors Courtly Couture Collection. If you’re a fan of The Tudors tv series, this is a really great opportunity to see the original costumes up close. I went to see the costumes when they arrived at the museum and the detailing even on the costumes is amazing. They really were the Kings of Bling.

It is all in aid of the Mary Rose 500 appeal which raises money for the new Mary Rose Museum which will house King Henry VIII’s flagship at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

There will also be two more classes on 12th February and 26th March, where I will be teaching how to make knitted bouquets and buttonholes for a Winter Wedding, and the Scroggers from Glee, respectively (scroggers were Tudor leg or arm warmers).

If you’d like to book up, please do get in touch with Fiona Harvey on 02392 750521 or email her at f.harvey[at]

The Countdown has Begun

The Spring Arts Centre in Havant, Hampshire have just listed my forthcoming exhibition on their website. Suddenly the exhibition seems REAL, you know? This time there will be new additions to the Mrs Miniver series of art socks including the Sherlock Holmes silk sock that I’m knitting from clues sent to me by my own sock-knitting Moriarty, Susan Crawford. It will be displayed as  a work in-progress as the mystery can’t be solved all in one fell swoop.

Here is the decoding so far. You can just see the start of some long-stemmed flowers in the heather colour.

Pictured below is Katie‘s half of the friendsocks that we made last year. It has winged its way back from Boston, Mass, where Katie now lives to be part of the exhibition. It will return after its tour.

Mrs Miniver ’s Socks
By Ingrid Murnane

1 Feb – 24 Mar
This exhibition takes its name from Mrs Miniver’s Problem, a concept in geometry concerned with overlapping circles. According to Jan Struther’s wartime character Mrs Miniver, a relationship of two people should share exactly two thirds of their interests. Ingrid has combined these ideas through a series of hand knitted socks.

Music to Sew Up By

Yup. Exactly what it says in the title.

Sewing up, copyright Ingrid Murnane

I’ve been making this as-yet mystery item (on the off-chance that the recipient sees it here) as a commission, and after some epic knitting  last Thursday, finally got around to sewing up my efforts that night.

I have to admit that I need something calming, yet uplifting to sew mattress stitch by (and frankly it’s even more vital if kitchener is involved!)

Here is a taste of what I was listening to today:

Skinny Lister. Discovered them at Festibelly this year and I’m eagerly anticipating their debut album.

Sophie Madeleine – Wonderful ukelele music, including The Knitting Song.

Bishop Allen’s Like Castanets is just a beautiful song with subtle onomatopoeia in parts.

Thea GilmoreHeads will Roll is my favourite from her album Avalanche. The lyrics are scrumptiously gothic.

They all helped the night along, with a good dose of Belle and Sebastian to boot. I wonder if you have any more suggestions for music to sew up your knitting by?

Review: Twisted Woolly Toppers by Woolly Wormhead

In Twisted Woolly Toppers, Woolly Wormhead’s third book, she brings us a fabulous collection of new hat designs with its focus: cable, twist and bias techniques. Beautifully photographed on location in Italy, there are ten great designs for men, women and children. Each hat is sized to fit three or more head sizes so by altering the colour and sizing to suit, each hat can be made for a range of people including those with big hair, like me.

The hats have great names which reflect the designs such as the curved, windmillesque lines of Turbine which meet centrally at the top and the directional arrows of Freccia. There are a combination of styles to knit, some beanie-shaped, some with double points at the crown, some upright, some slouchy and yet others still, like Lollie, finishing with the flourish of an i-cord topknot. They all have a characteristic twist pattern in common either on the brim, in the body or at the crown.

Unlike her previous book, Going Straight, there are no tutorials included, but don’t let this put you off, as ‘…all techniques needed to complete the projects are available online or in general knitting techniques books.’ Although some of the designs seem complicated at first glance, they are cleverly written with clear and concise instructions which are easy to follow. What’s more, each pattern has both charted and written instructions giving an option if you prefer a visual over text, or vice versa. There is an excellent two-page abbreviation/chart key in-one at the back of the book, as well as useful sizing information and a resource guide.

I loved this book and look forward to knitting many of these creative, fresh and fun patterns.

If you’d like your own copy, click here to purchase one from the knitonthenet shop, and please do check out Woolly Wormhead’s website for more of her designs, tutorials including making your own woolly dreadlocks, and some really great blog posts.

First published for knitonthenet.