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Bronagh Miskelly
Freelance content strategist, writer and tech editor navigating her way through the changing media terrain while knitting, fencing and travelling to keep sane
Interests: travel, knitting, film, fencing, reading, writing, photography, technology
Recent Activity
As a knitting designer, tech editor, writer, pattern writer, teacher and all round knitting nerd, I have an ever growing collection of reference books from the iconic The Principles Of Knitting by June Hemmon Hyatt and a 1960s Odhams Knitting Encylopaedia (a lucky charity shop find), to a well over a dozen stitch dictionaries. There are books on pattern writing and garment construction, books on fibres and yarn production, books on different styles of socks, on hat shaping, etc, etc. I love learning about my craft and I use these books regularly: to find the best techniques; looking to see... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2018 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
One interesting aspect of knitting is that looking at something sideways can give you a new way to create something. This is the case with the Wayward Paths scarf – a flat fringed scarf that is actually knitted in the round and cut – yes cut. This means the width of the stitch pattern repeats down the long side of the scarf – that is the rows go right along the scarf. This means you can use stitch patterns in a different way. I got the idea from my friend Juliet Bernard who used this method to create the stunning... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2018 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
I have been doing a spot of emergency knitting this week. I have a couple of Christmas dinners coming up and decided on a sleeveless red, grey and black dress. Perfect as the room warms up, but what about the early evening chill and having enough layers to deal with the Baltic weather outside? Apparently I have worn out a couple of cropped cardies over the past few months and no longer had something that was smart enough and warm enough. So there was a combined search of the yarn shop sites, Ravelry and my large knitting pattern and book... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
When I posted a few pictures of my Facet shawl from Knitting issue 173 (from GMC publications), there were a few people who said "lovely but I could never make something like that". This seems to be a common response to shawl patterns - there is a fear that it going to be incredibly complicated and take a very long time plus you will have to learn fiendishly evil new stitches. In fact there is nothing more complicated in Facet than a yarnover next to a decrease and once you are a few rows in the pattern repeat becomes clear.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
In my post about neat shoulders I mentioned using short rows shape shoulders and joining the seam using a three needle cast off. When you shape shoulders using short rows you end up with a set of stitches on a holder rather than cast off stitches. You can join them using the steps below. 1. Return your stitches to needles. Place the two sets of stitches from the pieces you plan to join on separate needles. I use double pointed or circular needles to make it ease to line up my stitches. 2. Hold the pieces you want to join... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
I always look forward to seeing the final pictures of a pattern commission. It is often some time after I supply the sample garment when I see the eventual images from a shoot, perhaps when a magazine is published. It is of course interesting to see how a garment has been styled but I also look at how the garment sits and particularly around the armhole and shoulder because this is something I work a great deal on and have quite strong views about. So I was particularly gratified to see these detail shots for the Lily Twinset in Knitting... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
It has been a while since I was a size 10, which means I don't always fit the sample garments I make to accompany my patterns for magazines. Luckily accessories don't have that problem and occasionally I decide to wear some of my hat or scarf samples. I am particularly looking forward to my Bonfire Hat and Scarf in the current issue of Knitting Magazine (172, Autumn 2017) coming back. I think it will be my go-to set this Autumn, although I think I will let the slouch of the hat drop to the side or back. One of my... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
I came late to sharing my knitting designs let alone receiving commissions from magazines and yarn companies. I have had a long career as a journalist but I still remember the excitement of having a bylined piece in a major national newspaper for the first time. I had to suppress the urge to tap fellow tube passengers on the shoulder, point to the article they were reading and say "I wrote that". The same sort of thing has happened each time I have had a design on the cover of a magazine. Right now I could happily spend time in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
There has been a recent trend on daytime TV for shows such as Gok's Fill YOur House for Free and Money for Nothing that encourage making and recycling, mainly featuring specialist craftspeople. Now crafting and making it yourself has hit primetime with Channel 4's glossy cookery show style Craft It Yourself on Tuesday evenings. Having watched the first two episodes I am enjoying the show and noting good ideas but I suspect the audience will fall into two groups - the doers and the admirers (one of the factors that reminds me of cookery shows). The doers are makers already,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
As a maker and craft teacher, I really enjoy having the time to learn new skills or crafts. One that I've fancied testing out for a while is ceramics, especially learning to use a wheel. So when fellow teacher and maker told me about an opportunity to take part in a group taster session she was arranging at The Kiln Rooms I was very excited and signed up right away. The four hour session was divided into two parts. For the first half we concentrated on using the wheel and then learned about other techniques which meant we each had... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
Meet Joan a very versatile knitted T-shirt that you can find in the latest issue of Knitting magazine (issue 171). Joan was inspired by Lucy Liu's character Joan Watson in the Elementary TV series. The character has a fabulous selection of knitwear and favours layers with long-sleeved t-shirts under knits, stripes and colour blocks. So I wanted to create an easy wear top that would look good on its own or over a long-sleeved tee and a design that would allow knitters to have a lot of colour options. For that reason it is knitted in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
Wearing one of my various craft and yarn industry hats, I had the opportunity to attend an interesting presentation on the state of the craft sector the other day. While I can’t reveal any detail here, except to say it is healthy and knitting is a big market, thankfully, I do want to raise an issue that came up. What do we think qualifies as a “craft activity”? It can be hard to define what falls inside the craft sector boundaries. For example, grown up colouring books form a category that is hotly debated. Some people argue that it should... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
A call for pattern designs using British yarns recently gave me the opportunity to work in a yarn I had been admiring for a while - Shetland Supreme Lace Weight 2ply from Jamieson & Smith. I was interested in working with the natural colours and fine sheepiness of this pure wool lace yarn that comes in 25g balls, as well as 500g cones if you are planning a couple of large shawls. This is one of those magical laceweights that looks rather unexciting as you work (especially as I had chosen the natural grey) but once blocked turns into a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
I will be explaining about how to create rips and ladders on the blog soon. 8-)
I am a life long Dr Who fan. I can remember watching it with my dad when I was little, and being very excited to catch a glimpse of Tom Baker at an event. As an adult I have rewatched pretty much all the classic episodes available and followed the recent series very happily. But I don't think I will have watched any as closely as the new series. This is because I was commissioned to knit items for the upcoming season. I was introduced the the show's talented costume designer, Hayley Nebauer, when she asked mutual friend about knitters... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
I love vintage patterns and have piles of old knitting magazines from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, so I was very excited when Christine Boggis, the editor of Knitting magazine, put out a call for knits inspired by the 40s. Even more so because for a while I had had a picture of a vintage teapot that I wanted to use as a template for a colourwork jumper and I realised this was great fit for the brief. Colourwork and stripes were popular choices for sweaters in the 1940s because rationing meant people often reused wool and only had limited... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
Another new design out this week and this one is available for free via the Designer Yarns website. This unisex scarf is completely reversible, using ribbed cables and moss stitch, so it doesn't matter how you wrap yourself up, your knitting will still look fabulous. And with only 44 stitches to the row it turns out to be quite a quick knit as well (or at least it felt that way to me because the other tings on the needles are large scarves or colourwork across a lot more stitches) What really makes this a special knit is the yarn,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
The new issue of Knitting magazine is out and it includes my Spring Leaf cardigan. A simple draping cardigan for over a light top or dress. It has a bolero shape with a curved hem line and the leaf edging is knitted on so the leaves grow up the front symmetrically. The leaf pattern is based on a Victorian edging from the Knitting and Crochet Guild archive. It is one of those knits that is much easier than it might a appear at first glance at the pattern. The yarn is Lotus Yarns Tibetan Cloud Worsted - my first time... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
During February I have been taking part in the #yarnlovechallenge on Instagram. The idea was to post each day according to a theme - some, sa you can see below, more challenging than others. It was a fascinating challenge because it made me think creatively everyday even when I wasn't in the mood. And I'm happy to say I posted every day and managed to keep up. I look forward to doing something like this again in the future but not during March which is a crazy month. Here are my 28 pics - starting from day one at the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
I love a cable or two. They add interest to both design and the process of knitting and you can use them to aid construction or shaping, so I was very excited a few months ago when the editor of Knitting magazine put out a call for design submissions for a cable special. I was even more excited when I was commissioned to produce my modern take on a traditional aran-style cable jumper in a natural off-white yarn. It was a design I'd enjoyed coming up with and it was also a sample I really enjoyed producing (I just need... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
It is interesting to take a look at the statements from online pattern sales sites to see what (and sometimes if) patterns are selling. Judging by what I've been looking at today, over Christmas it seems that quite a few people may have received a pair of Hamilton Handwarmers in their presents. I hope they all have cosy hands and that the knitters enjoyed making them. Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
Today I'm surrounded by swatches because I'm testing a range of yarns, shapes and stitches for a new commission involving a set of patterns. It is interesting to see how things come out and sometimes that means deciding a stitch might work better in another of the yarn choices. I'm now contemplating these and a couple more before the final sketches and submission. Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
If you were to look at my knitting book shelves it would be easy to spot that I am a bit of a fan of Alice Starmore. I have been since my mum bought me a copy of The Celtic Collection for Christmas many moons ago. Mum had an ulterior motive, she wanted her own Donegal jumper (it was her home county). So among other patterns from the book did make this almost infamous piece of colourwork (long before I learn two handed stranded knitting making it even more of an achievement). The Donegal and Armagh sweaters And I still... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
Introducing ZigZag, my new cardigan design in Knitting issue 164. This longish, empire line cardigan is a flattering shape with a lovely drape thanks to the yarn which is Yarn Stories fine merino 4-ply. I'd wanted to make something in this yarn since I'd first come across it and especially in this colour combination of dove and french navy. So the Knitting "Winter Blues" issue was the perfect opportunity, especially as I think 4-ply cardigans are very useful layering garments in winter (in particular one as changeable as this). The graduate stripes keep the interest when knitting and create shape,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
2016 has been seen as a universally bad year and, yes, some of my friends had a dreadful time last year and yes some of my celebrity heroes died but for me it was about positive change and emergence. On the other hand I had a tough 2015 full of bereavement and health issues for me and others. I ended that year tired, drained and in need of some change in my life. For someone who is a freelancer, one of the problems of making changes is that the need to earn can take up all the time that you... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2017 at The penguin with the pointy sticks