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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
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Lace seems to be what most knitters associate with blocking. It generally requires a particular blocking method and some tools to get the best results. A lace project rarely looks that great when it comes off the needles – it’s usually a bit scrunched up rather than looking floaty and ethereal. To turn it into the finished item you will need something to pin your shawl out on, a lot of pins and if possible some blocking wires. A lot of people use foam matts as the base for their blocking and I recommend T-pins – these a more robust... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Be warned this is one of my hobby horses. I often hear or read: “I have never blocked my knitting.” Quite frankly I don’t believe this. I don’t believe that there is anyone who has neither reshaped a damp piece of knitting nor ever washed a knitted item. The problem is a common misconception the “blocking” always involves wires, pins and extreme stretching. In fact, blocking is a general term for getting your knitted pieces wet – by soaking, steaming, spraying with water or covering with wet cloths – and then shaping it. The shaping could be a small adjustment... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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There will always be some people who don't enjoy working from charts because of how their brains process instructions but for everyone else they are a useful tool for knitting a pattern or for checking it if you prefer using the written instructions. So it is worth understanding how they work. A chart is basically a picture of your knitting using coloured blocks or symbols. Colourwork charts are the simplest version of charts, in terms of seeing the picture. Each square represents a stitch and they are arranged in rows. On right side rows you read the chart from right... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Who says that lace has to be knitted in superfine laceweight yarn? Yes, that will create a a very fine floaty item, but it isn't the only way to knit lace. You can use lace pattern in any yarn - for example this top I designed for Knitting Magazine features a lace pattern knitted with two strands of a cotton bamboo DK. In fact if you are completely new to lace, I recommend going for a DK or a 4-ply pattern so you can concentrate more on getting the hang of the techniques than worrying about tiny needle or seeing... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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There's a new issue of Knitting magazine is out. It's where you can find Diamond my new shrug design in King Cole Superfine Alpaca Chunky. I've been playing with construction again. This starts from the centre of the diamond lace panel on the back and then is worked outwards for the sleeves and rib band. Most of the time it is worked in the round with some short row shaping, so it is an interesting make without seaming. The pattern is a very relaxed fit coming in two sizes with advice of adjusting it to your preferences. This is the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Life lines are something the you most commonly hear mentioned when talking about lace knitting but I would use one in any knitting project where I wanted to protect my work so far. You can put a life line anywhere in your knitting by threading a blunt tapestry needle with sewing cotton and threading it through every stitch in a row. You don't need to take your stitches off the needle to do this but be careful not to thread your cotton through any stitch markers. Once your thread is through all the stitches just ignore your lifeline and work... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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When we learn to knit, one of the big obstacles to progress is the appearance of random holes, so we put a lot of effort into not making holes. Then, a lacy pattern catches the eye and it's suddenly about learning to make holes. And that's what lace knitting is all about, making holes in particular places by putting the yarn over your needle as you work. These yarn overs will either be matched with decreases keeping the number stitches the same in each row or used as increases. In the two charts above don't think about the over all... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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One problem some knitters find with double pointed needles is that they get a "ladder" or column of stretch stitches between the needles. Fans of using the magic loop method of working in the round with a long circular can find the same thing where they divide their stitches. The ladder is caused by there being a different amount of strain on the first and last stitches on each DPN causing stitches to distort and the gap between them stretch. Thankfully there is a simple solution. Every few rows, move the gap between the needles. For example, work two more... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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At this time of year, I like to a have a relaxing knit in a beautiful yarn as one of my projects. For me this is to pick up to distract me when fireworks are going off outside. The noise of fireworks sends me a bit off kilter and the knitting something lovely brings me back again. This year I’ve decided to dive into my tub of 4-ply #singleskeinsofloveliness and knit myself another Off Kilter shawl. Then I thought: why don’t I invite other people to join me in a super-relaxed knit along. Off Kilter is a free pattern I... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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"It looks like wrestling a hedgehog" - probably my favourite description of knitting with double-pointed needles from someone nervous of trying it. There is a misconception that you have to hold all your DPNs all the time. In fact, once you get into your rhythm the needles will stay put unless your accidently pull out the wrong one. When I am teaching in person I wave my sock knitting round my head to demonstrate how secure the needles are - try it! If you were at the Knitting and Stitching Show last week, you may even have seen me do... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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My two patterns in Knitting Magazine this month (issue 223) are all about comfort and as I am having a sofa day today, I'm delighted to have the samples on hand so I can try to replicated the pictures in my own home. Duality is a chunky lace wrap/bedrunner with an unusual construction that I hope you will all enjoy. The lace is worked separately on either side on the central spine running along the full length. The yarn is Cascade Yarns 128 which gives a soft, cuddly finish. The Slouchy Sofa Socks are intended to be indoor socks for... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Hand knit sock season is definitely on the way so the next few tips are intended to help. Your preference for what needles you use to work on on small items in the round, like socks, will depend on your knitting style. Some people like using magic loop with a long circular, some small circulars and some like me will be more comfortable with double pointed needles. However, the idea of having more than two needles on the go can be off-putting. Casting on is no different to any other piece of knitting - you cast all your stitches on... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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This is probably the simplest tip I can give you. Knitting in the round is just knitting. You make your stitches in exactly the same way, you just go round and round in a spiral rather than back and forward in rows. But you don't put your needle in a different place or put the yarn round in a different way. In the picture you can see the other side of my hat on a circular needle but it is just there, I am still concentrating on the next stitch on my needle and using the same flicking technique as... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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OK, I'm going to say it: Some times the best thing to do is rip your knitting back. I know it may seem painful, but it's true. Sometimes a mistake can't be fixed by dropping a stitch down a couple of rows and using a crochet hook to work it back up and it may be easier (or less time consuming) to rip back a few rows. For example, if you look at the centre top of the swatch pictured above, you will see an extra column of stitches created by an accidental yarnover. In a case like this you'll... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Hello my name is Bronagh and I'm a knitting evangelist. Knitting for me has been a hobby, now it's a business that still brings me much joy, it is also something that has helped with both physical and mental health challenges. It is a medium where I can reproduce ideas that reflect the image in my head. For all those reasons I love knitting and I want other people to enjoy it as much as I do. That's why my aim is to design items you'll enjoy making and using, and to help you develop confidence in the techniques you... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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If you notice a dropped stitch a couple of rows down, don't panic. If you are armed with a stitch marker and a crochet hook, all will be well. First grab a removeable stitch marker or a safety pin and feed the stitch on to it so it doesn't unravel any more and work until you reach the point in the row where the stitch should be. Use a crochet hook to work up the column of stitches by inserting the hook into the stitch loop and pulling the bar of the yarn though the loop. Then repeat for the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Did you know you read code? Knitting patterns are coded instructions on how to do something - a programme for our hands. But between abbreviations, brackets and repeats, sometimes our code breaking skills can let us down. If that happens, just grab a pen and paper and write out the line you are stuck on in full, stitch-by-stitch, and it will start to make sense. As with so many things with knitting, just take your time. Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Have you noticed that I like detail? I don't tend to make plain items but that doesn't mean all over pattern. The Hemingford sweater has a plain stocking stitch body with loose lacy sleeves which add a little glamour. It is knitted in Cascade Yarns Heritage 4-ply which is one of my go-to fine sweater yarns and the pattern can be found in The Knitter issue 167 out now. The sample is in a very on trend Coral shade but the yarn comes in a wide range of colours so I am looking forward to seeing what people choose. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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A quick tip today. Do the words "cast on 150 stitches" fill you with horror? Once I get over a certain number of stitches I can lose count as easily as blinking. But there is a simple solution. As you cast on, pop a stitchmarker or a loop of contrast yarn every 20, 30 or 50 stitches (whatever suits you). Then you only need to count the stitches from the last marker each time. You can take out the markers as you knit your first row. If you need any advice or any other help with building your knitting skills... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Wow what an exciting five years. Purple Rain appeared in Knitting magazine five years ago this week. It was my first every paid pattern for a magazine. Who knew what was going to happen next? I certainly didn't expect it to change my life but it has to some extent. Now my tally is round about 100 patterns for magazines and growing every month. Plus other collaborations and patterns – and now I am in the midst of a book plan! I never expected this and, to be honest, I sometimes have to be reminded I am a knitwear designer.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Just because your friend is a continental-style knitter it doesn't mean that it will be your preferred style or that you will hold your needles the same way. Everyone's hands are different - individual like fingerprints - shaped by all the things you do in your life. For example, I enjoy fencing (the sword type) and how I hold my sabre has had an influence on where the strength in my hands lies and that effects how I hold my needles and what is comfortable for me. I have also knitted every day for a very many years, which means... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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One question I'm asked a lot is: "How do I knit fast?" My top tip for getting through your knitting faster is NOT to try to knit really fast. What generally happens is that you can end up dropping stitches, splitting yarn or making other mistakes that mean over all your knitting takes longer. Rather than thinking about being speedy, concentrate on finding an efficient knitting style. This is a way of knitting that lets you to get into a steady rhythm and requires only small movements to make each stitch. This way each stitch will take a small amount... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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If you want to easily replace a yarn in a pattern there are 4 easy steps to success. 1. Yarn weight: If a pattern is written for a DK or an aranweight, you will end up with a very different fabric is you try to knit it in 4-ply. Although you can adapt a pattern, you are best substituting DK for DK, chunky for chunky, etc. 2. Fibre content: For best results, try to use a yarn that is made up from similar fibres as the one in the pattern. Cotton yarn behaves very differently to wool so swapping one... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
Yes the community aspect of an activity like this can be really wonderful and it sounds like your project was really well thought out. I wasn't arguing against such projects but rather that a particular term "yarnbombing" - apart from being extremely problematic for people like me who have lived through conflict - has the possibility of giving the wrong impression about community craft installations.