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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
I'd like you to take a look at your yarn stash and read some labels. Quite often when we start a project we just discard the labels or leave then to languish in the bottom of the project bag, but they have a lot to say. What the yarn is made of: The more you knit the more you learn about how different fibres behave so the fibre content listed can give you clues about how the yarn will be to knit with and what sort of fabric it might make. Recommended needle size and tension: This doesn't mean that... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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In the various online knitting spaces I frequent I’ve come across a couple of interesting discussions on what “right side” means in a knitting pattern. It’s a tricky one because the phrase can be used in two separate ways – in terms of the outward facing part of your finished item or it could refer to the right hand side of a garment (which can be tricky in itself -see below). Right and wrong sides, and front and back In knitting patterns you will often see rows referred to as “right side” and “wrong side” rows. Usually this means the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Do you have a favourite cast-on? The one that’s not too tight, not too loose, with a bit of elasticity (but not too much) and gives an edge you like. Just right like Goldilocks and the bears’ porridge. Some people’s goldilocks cast on is the first one they ever learned. It works for them and they don’t have a good reason to change it. Other knitters will have tried several or have strong views on why they use the cable cast on rather than long tail or vice versa. Personally, my cable cast on is neater than my long-tail so... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
Today a big topic on “knitting Twitter” or at least the social media that top my feeds has been a video from Ecomcrew a pair of North American ecommerce gurus where they explain why they have bought the domain Knitting.com It seems that the pair see the knitting sector as somewhere ripe for their expertise and where they can build a “seven figure business”. So far, so good you might say – we are all keen on increasing interest in and access to knitting and other yarn crafts. Watch the full 40min video here if you want to know all... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Knitting magazine issue 227 is out and it's all about texture. I've a couple of patterns and tutorial in it but today I'm just showing you Anika. This short-sleeved 4-ply top is worked bottom-up in the round on the body and sleeves which then join for the yoke (don't ask about working out yoke shaping for 10 sizes!). It features a slip-stitch texture pattern which is easy to work but very effective. I used Cascade Yarns Heritage for this which means a vast range of colour combinations - and as mention above the pattern offers 10 sizes. But any nice... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Once you have decoded your cable instructions and established the first few rows of your project, you have already knitted yourself a quick cheat sheet. If you reach the next cable in your pattern and have a sudden blank about whether your cable needle needs to be held at the front or the back, look down your work at the cables below to find an equivalent one. Look at the cable you are about to knit - if you have the cable needle at the front, will your stitches cross in the same way as before? If yes, your cable... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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When I talk to people about why they are intimidated by starting a cable project the answers is often that the terminology or abbreviations seem so complicated. They seem surprised when I say that all cables use the same basic steps: Put a given number of stitches on cable needle. Hold the cable needle to the back or front of the work as instructed. Knit or purl a given number of stitches from your main needle. Knit or purl the stitches from your cable needle. The result is a set of stitches that cross each other. The key to cable... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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My cable knitting used to regularly be accompanied by what we might call "strong language" as I dropped or realised I'd lost my cable needle for the hundredth time.. I love cable patterns, but I was driven to distraction by how easy it was to lose a cable needle or for it to drop out of my stitches at just the wrong moment. Then I found my first kinked cable needle. The bend in the middle means you can let it angle from your stitches if necessary when working your cable and it doesn't escape. No more manipulating your other... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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My cable knitting used to regularly be accompanied by what we might call "strong language" as I dropped or realised I'd lost my cable needle for the hundredth time.. I love cable patterns, but I was driven to distraction by how easy it was to lose a cable needle or for it to drop out of my stitches at just the wrong moment. Then I found my first kinked cable needle. The bend in the middle means you can let it angle from your stitches if necessary when working your cable and it doesn't escape. No more manipulating your other... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Today marks the first step in changing my business identity. As of today, my social media and Payhip pattern store are all changing to BronaghKnits. When I started designing, I didn’t expect it to become such a large part of my life so I relied on my existing Ravelry and social media tag of LaPurplePenguin – a name that was partly a personal joke. However, as I have increased my designing portfolio and working more and more for magazines, teaching in person and online all under my actual name this doesn’t really make sense. Over the past year I have... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Today marks the first step in changing my business identity. As of today, my social media and Payhip pattern store are all changing to BronaghKnits. When I started designing, I didn’t expect it to become such a large part of my life so I relied on my existing Ravelry and social media tag of LaPurplePenguin – a name that was partly a personal joke. However, as I have increased my designing portfolio and working more and more for magazines, teaching in person and online all under my actual name this doesn’t really make sense. Over the past year I have... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Today marks the first step in changing my business identity. As of today, my social media and Payhip pattern store are all changing to BronaghKnits. When I started designing, I didn’t expect it to become such a large part of my life so I relied on my existing Ravelry and social media tag of LaPurplePenguin – a name that was partly a personal joke. However, as I have increased my designing portfolio and working more and more for magazines, teaching in person and online all under my actual name this doesn’t really make sense. Over the past year I have... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2022 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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The new issue of Knitting magazine is out today and apart from some patterns by me it also contains a first person article where I talk about how knitting helps me manage bouts of anxiety caused by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For my own well-being I have resolved to be more open about suffering from this condition but I know that it can provoke a range of reactions. So alongside the article I thought I’d say a few things about PTSD and me. (In the future I will put a version of the article on my blog but for... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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My idea of celebrating Christmas is holing up somewhere quiet with lots of cheese and yarn. And for many the festive period especially the “Betwixtmas” days are ones when they can grab some knitting time. So, my Christmas gift to you is a 12% discount on all my patterns until 6 January on both Ravelry and Payhip with the code 12DAYS. Just the thing is you get some lovely yarn from Santa this year – or if you are planning a stashbusting new year. There are one skein wonders in a range of yarn weights, and patterns for gloves, hats,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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One part of finishing that seems to ambush a lot of people is picking up stitches. There are two issues here. Firstly, picking up the right number of stitches evenly. Even if you place markers at the halfway and quarterway points it doesn't seem to work. Sometimes this is because your row tension is slightly different from the one the pattern. In this case, picking up the number of stitches listed in the pattern may not fit the space. The rule of 3/4 can help here - especially on stocking stitch based patterns. To get an even edging, pick up... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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Sewing up can be the thing that makes knitters reluctant to try some patterns or dissatisfied with their final product. The answer is simple and about finding the right sewing up method. For straight seams, mattress stitch is a great choice and once you get the hang of it, an easy way to create a good finish. Surprisingly mattress stitch in worked on the right side of your work and is easiest done over a table. Mattress stitch is worked in the gap between the first and second column of stitches on each side of the seam. If you stretch... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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It's definitely chilly hands weather, so as well as making myself some extra fingerless mitts, I expect Mr Penguin will need some more fingerless gloves - he is very specific that they should be gloves not mitts. I designed both Hamilton (grey) and Carmicheal (green) especially to his requirements and then discovered other men who would with the "gloves not mitts" requirement. The Hamilton pattern tends to be a favourite at this time of year with people looking for a last minute gift to make for a man in their life. Both types are made in DK and matching hats... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2021 at The penguin with the pointy sticks
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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 Nov 30, 2021 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