Meet the Designer #giftalong 2014

Hi everyone,

Hope you are having a fabulous December so far. I am trying to wrap things up so we can hunker down and spend some time together as a family next week and the week after. Before I do that though I have some last minute bits I want to knit for folk who mean a great deal to me. Given that these need to be finished pretty soon I need to plan strategically. I need quick and fabulous knits, chunky yarn seems the answer. Luck would have it that Monika who is the fabulous designer in my “meet the designer” feature today has some gorgeous quick knits. If you are planning some last minute gift knitting I urge you to have a look at her stunning designs.

Here are my three favourite quick knits from her pattern selection.

Pogonip uses under 100m of super bulky so it will be lightening fast to make. It features some lovely textural details and a fabulous pom pom. If you have been following me lately you will know I am pom pom obsessed. 

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It also comes in an ebook with a matching cowl that is perfect for those who like their accessories to come in a set.

The Nollie hat is another bulky knit that would be a perfect quick knit. I love that this hat is super slouchy. After pom poms slouch is my thing when it comes to hats.

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I love these mittens. I have a little one who loves mittens and these would be perfect for her. You could embellish them in so many different ways too. Have a look at all the great projects created by Ravelers. Kveta comes in a wide range of sizes from toddler to large adult. You can also get a matching hat pattern which is possibly one of the cutest hats I have seen in a long while.

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Monika also has a fabulous range of patterns that might not be suitable for knitting on a christmas deadline but they certainly are worth getting on the needles. Two of my favourites are Caramel Frappe, a gorgeous crescent shaped shawl and Saku Hana, intricate and detailed fingerless mitts. The attention to detail in this design is outstanding.

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Last month I caught up with Monika and we chatted a bit about her knitting and designing. I hope you enjoy the interview. There is a lovely giveaway too – details can be found at the end of this post.

CD: Where do you find your design inspiration?

MS: I find my inspiration almost everywhere! It can be a new skein of yarn, a color, a little dress in a magazine, a tiny piece of fabric, a button, a kids’ coloring book, a piece of ribbon, a painting, a photo (not knitting related), new design I am currently working on …. However, most of the time, new ideas pop in my head when there is peace and quiet around me, no tv, no radio, no kids running around. Letting the thoughts flow bring my inspiration new life.

CD: What types of yarn do you love to work with? I would love to know about weights, fibre types, finishes, dyeing methods etc.

MS: I rarely find a yarn I don’t like, 100% merino is my basic I use all the time. But most of the time I go through stages! Maybe everything with silk content seems amazing, and the next time tweed is The One, another time alpaca (yes, alpaca is ‘it’ these days) but mohair always finds a way back to me in one form or another. It would be equally difficult to choose only one weight of yarn as well, I love the look of chunky fabric – even better if it is worked in a lacy stitch! I love the look of delicate lace weight fabric, and I love to use sport weight as a great compromise for year-round wear (especially for kids’ knits).

CD: What is your favourite knitting technique?

MS: Each time I find a new technique, I ask myself how I lived without it for so long! I love Kitchener, German Twisted CO, mattress st, embroidery embellishments, sewn stretchy BO, adding beads, picking up sts. You name it, I would love to try them all!

CD: What is your most treasured or most useful knitting tool?

MS: My life became easier after I bought Addi needles, a ball winder, some rust proof pins and blocking matts 🙂

CD: What is your favourite quick gift knit pattern, and why?

MS: There is no single answer to this question! Once my kids entered the school system, my designs reflected the need for quick gifts. Choosing the right gift always depends on the person for whom it is intended and from avaliable knitting time. I designed Cabernet Infinity Scarves as teacher gifts for a few reasons. When you want a quick, but need the gift to make an impact (more than just a plain stockinette or garter cowl), Cabernet does the trick! Lente was meant to be a las- minute gift – you can actually CO a few hours before you need to leave your house. I consider Caramel Frappe to be a gift-to-go this season, as it is a shawlette with a lacy border. No one would anticipate how easygoing it is to knit, how quickly it knits up, and how perfect it is for any special person in your life who deserves more than just a cowl. If you need a gift for young people, Saku Hana Mitts are the way to go! And a great gift for a child? Choose a bright, colorful yarn and pair it with Kveta Mitts or Mittens pattern. You will love the recipient’s reaction when she/he opens the package. And speaking of gifts, there is a new one in testing right now. It is a baby blanket suitable for any special occasion, and uses less than  3 skeins of worsted weight yarn! How great is that?

CD: If someone gives you a gift what would you love to receive?

MS: Definitely a project bag! Can you believe I still don’t have one?

CD: Any tips for those taking part in the GAL this year?

MS: Line up your projects! If you know what are you going to CO and what yarn you are going to use before you finish your current projects, you will be surprised how fast the gifts fly off your needles.

CD: Will you be casting anything on for the #giftalong2014?

MS: I sure will! There are quite a few special people who deserve a toasty, wooly surprise this year!

CD: If someone gave you a two week knitting holiday (24 / 7 knitting and relaxing time) what projects, patterns and yarn would you pack in your bags?

MS: Ohh, that would be my dream come true! I would pack yarn for at least 5 sweater projects for myself, just to make sure I wouldn’t run out of the yarn or projects! Sweater projects are always pushed back in my lineups (smaller and quicker projects are to blame for the constant distraction). I would bring my bright green Cascade Eco + for Aidez, blue Madelinetosh Sport for Grandpa Cardigan by Joji, Colour Adventures Merino Light for Casual Lace by Justyna, Rock Candy Mountains colorway for Harvest by Tincanknits, and one of my current WIPs, a new pullover design.

Giveaway

Monika has kindly donated two patterns to giveaway. There will be one pattern each for two lucky blog readers. All you need to do is comment on this post with your favourite design from Monika’s Ravelry store. Pop along and have a look at all her gorgeous designs, then let me know which one is your favourite. The giveaway will close on 31st December and I will announce the winners at the start of January 2015.

You can find Monika in the following places:

Instagram as monikasirnadesigns

 

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Meet The Designer #giftalong2014 (it’s me)

Hope you are having a good weekend. Things here are off to a slow start but that is how I like my Saturday morning.

After some intense deadline knitting over the last week I have a beautiful new secret project blocking and a little bit of breathing time to knit something that isn’t on a deadline. This is a wonderful feeling.

Last night I did a few rounds on my latest personal project, a very bright version of Snell. I am knitting this to wear on my bike as I cycle around Edinburgh. It is hopefully going to keep my neck warm and tone down my very bright luminous high visibility jacket (although I think I need to accept that nothing will ever tone that beast of a jacket down).

My Snell is being worked in Rainbow Heirloom. The “Sweater” base is a fabulous yarn is the colourways Highlighter and Grey Whale. I will be doing a full review of this yarn once I have worked with it for a little longer. Although I can already add that I knitted a hat for my little girl in the “Almost Spring” colourway and it is brilliant. The yarn blocks beautifully and wears really well.

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I also wanted to let you know about a lovely interview that Sashka Knits just did with me as part of the Ravelry #giftalong2014 event. You can read her interview on the Sashka Knits blog, click here to pop over to her little corner of the internet. 

Finally I am taking part in a very exciting KAL starting next week. More details on that tomorrow.

What are you working on at the moment? I love to hear about your projects.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Happy Knitting.

Clare

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Meet the Designer #giftalong2014

The Ravelry #giftalong2014 is well underway and today I have another fabulous interview with one of the designers who is participating. I chatted to Robynn Weldon, a fellow South African now living in Europe about her inspiration, designs and dream knitting. Hope you enjoy the interview.

Robynn has some stylish yet practical knits in her Ravelry store. I really like the Wraparound Mitts, the have an interesting construction and suit a slightly variegated yarn perfectly.

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Another of my favourites is the matching pair of mitts and scarf / cowl / headband / ear warmer aka the “perfect accessory for keeping you warm on a run”. The Runaround Loop was designed because Robynn enjoys running. I enjoy a little jog now and again and cycle everywhere, so this is the perfect accessory for me. The matching Runaround Mitts are the perfect companion to the Runaround Loop.

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CD: Where do you find your design inspiration?

RW: Lack of ideas has never been the problem, only lack of time to execute them. All the more so now I have two small kids. The time factor means that regardless of what exotic or fashion-forward concepts you might find in my notebook, the ideas that make it to the top of the queue tend to be small, needful things (either for myself or my children); things that are fun to make, useful and well suited to stash diving! Necessity, in my case, is the mother of inspiration.

CD: What types of yarn do you love to work with? I would love to know about weights, fibre types, finishes, dyeing methods etc.

RW: I used to run a luxury knitting shop (Purlescence.co.uk) and as you might imagine, came away with an enviable stash of hand-dyed yarn. The sensual element of knitting has always been very important to me – I can’t be bothered to work with yarn I don’t love to handle and look at. But I also don’t want to waste time on something that’s going to fall apart quickly. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years learning about yarn (I even teach a workshop about it) and have formed some pretty strong preferences: while I love natural fibres, everything from linen to merino, I won’t buy singles or pure cashmere (both too pill-y and fragile!). My absolute favourite yarn is Posh Yarn Natasha (a camel/silk blend, amazing for lace) – Posh colours are incomparable, but I’m also a big fan of Sweet Georgia. As for weights, I favour anything between regular laceweight (not cobweb) and DK. I love the way lighter fabrics move, compared with chunkier weights, and it helps that they don’t add too much bulk to my frame.

CD: What is your favourite knitting technique?

RW: I really enjoy lace stitches. Cables are awesome too, textured stitches are fun, but lace is very satisfying to me.

CD: What is your most treasured or most useful knitting tool?

RW: A girl can never have enough tape measures.

CD: What is your favourite quick gift knit pattern, and why?

RW: I don’t knit a lot of gifts. You have to be really deserving to get a knit from me, and I’ll put a lot of thought into choosing something that is just your style. But I’ve been very tempted by some of the quirkier patterns in the GAL – Platypus by Selina S, or the Neck Kraken by Annie Watts! They would be so fun to gift.

CD: If someone knitted you a gift what would you love to receive?

RW: Oh, a lovely wide scarf! Scarves are awesome, and there are so many fantastic patterns, but I don’t knit a lot of them. Maybe because I have a short attention span and scarves are so looooong.

CD: Any tips for those taking part in the GAL this year?

RW: Remember gifts for yourself count too. You know the recipient will appreciate it, and they’re surely deserving!

CD: Will you be casting anything on for the #giftalong2014?

RW: Hell yes. I’ve bought eight patterns (!) – you can see which ones on my blog – and while I’m obviously not going to be knitting all of them by GAL end, I’m hoping to have a good try. One of them is your own Jozi. I love socks that make good use of handpainted yarn, and as a South African myself, how could I resist?

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CD: If someone gave you a two week knitting holiday (24 / 7 knitting and relaxing time) what projects, patterns and yarn would you pack in your bags?

RW: What a magnificent fantasy… I long for uninterrupted time for proper, big projects and delicious lace, so I’d pack Marnie MacLean’s Arctium shawl, with a gorgeous skein of Natasha from my stash. But best of all I’d have time to work on my own hibernating Big Designs: a cowl-neck pullover in some fabulous grey alpaca/silk from The Uncommon Thread, and an oversized, richly textured fine-gauge tunic. I think Holst Garn’s Coast would be perfect for that.

Even for a fantasy, that’s more knitting than I could possibly accomplish in two weeks, but I make it a firm rule never to go away with fewer than three projects. Say one craps out, one goes faster than you think, and then what?

You can find Robynn as @woollythinker on Twitter and Pinterest, and her website is studio-miranda.com.

I hope you enjoyed this interview. Are you taking part in the #giftalong2014? There are so many wonderful prizes to be won and a great chatty knit along happening over in the Ravelry group. Pop over and say hi. 

Happy knitting,

Clare

#giftalong2014 Are You Taking Part?

The discount period for the #giftalong2014 might be over now but the fun is only just beginning over in the knit-along boards. There is so much activity sometimes it is hard to keep up. I love watching everyones projects take shape. Have you joined the group on Ravelry yet? Click here for all the details. 

Remember there are lots of prizes to be won and some exciting games to play in the knit-along. All paid for patterns from participating designers are eligible for knit-along entries.

The knit-along lasts until the 31st December at midnight EST. 

Are you taking part? What are you knitting?

I would love to hear about your general knitting adventures. 

I have some deadline knitting to get out of the way but I am itching to cast on some mitts by Laura Aylor called Spiced Cocoa (I might have mentioned these mitts a few times recently, I am rather obsessed with them). I also have my eye on a Artisan by Elizabeth Felgate, a squishy garter stitch jumper (although I doubt that will be finished by the end of December).

Copyright Laura Aylor

Spiced Cocoa. Copyright Laura Aylor

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I am yet to decide on what I am gift knitting for this year. I think I will be keeping it very low key as I have lots of deadline knitting to do too. Definitely a hat for the little one in my life and something for my mom (she is very knit worthy) – maybe I will make some Spiced Cocoa Mitts for her too.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Happy Knitting.

Clare

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My Top 10 “Hands and Feet” Knits #giftalong2014

Hope your week is going well. The #giftalong2014 is going very well on Ravelry and lots of folk are already finishing their WIPS (works in progress) and posting them in the forums. Pop over and have a look, and while you are there you might want to join in with the chatter in the threads.

Today I have some of my favourite knits for keeping hands and feet warm.

My personal knitting time is limited these days but I definitely want to knit myself these mitts Spiced Cocoa by Laura Aylor. I love the angle created by the fabric on the Spiced Cocoa mitts. I have the perfect Rainbow Heirloom yarn for these in my stash.

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I love the slightly unusual combination of garter stitch and cables featured in Side by Side by Katya Frankel

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Jenise Reid is a very talented design and the clever construction of these mitts is testament to her thoughtful design process. Pull Mitts are knitted on the bias and fit beautifully. They are definitely on my “to-knit” list.

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I am a great admirer of colourwork and these mittens really struck a chord with me. I am an African girl at heart, and no matter how long I am away from my home there is something majestic about the long neck of a giraffe and the idea of an African sunset that will always capture my imagination. Giraffes at Sunset by Erica Mount really are a stunning example of colourwork. I love them.

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Strong lines created by twisted stitches and rib always draw me in. Sunshine Fingerless Mitts by Kate Bostwick are a stunning example of the structural beauty that these stitches produce.

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Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade has come up with another corker here. Her grey and yellow combo gets me every single time. These long length Global Nomad Handwarmers go with the cowl I featured the other day. I love how they can fold down or be pulled up over your fingers. A great, quick knit.

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Now that you have warm feet, let’s turn our attention to your feet.

Nobody likes cold feet.

I love socks, there is no denying that I am a sock fan. There are a few designers who constantly impress me with their design skills and Hunter Hammersen is one of them. She is a sock genius, her designs are majestic in their beauty. Many are not for the faint hearted, they are certainly not “mindless TV knitting” but they deliver on an aesthetic level like very few other designers do. Here are three of my favourites that are discounted for the #giftalong2014.

Crocus Vernus

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Chrysanthemum Frutescens

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Vanessa Antiopa

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Hunter also has these super cute little slippers, Quiescent, that I am very tempted to knit for myself after I make my all time favorite slippers by Jenise Reid.

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Here are those Jenise Reid slippers that have captured my heart, Persian Curled Toes Slippers. Unusual and just absolutely brilliant. I have bought the pattern and just need some free time to get started.

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I am not usually a leg warmer person but now that I live in the cold northern hemisphere I think I could become one. This cute pair by Lee Meredith could certainly sway me.  Twisted Ankles Lee Meredith. Worked in bulky yarn they must be a very quick knit. I love that they button behind your legs, perfect for whipping on and off. I bet they are great for cycling (hmmmm I think I should cast some of these on for my daily bike rides in Edinburgh).

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Last, but certainly not least are a fabulous pair of socks Rainbow Pipes and Linen Stitch Socks by Aurelie Colas. These rainbow socks really make me smile. I love how Aurelie has incorporated linen stitch and the combination of grey and rainbow colours couldn’t fail to brighten your day.

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This was bound to be a bumper post. There are so many wonderful designs out there at the moment. Mittens, fingerless gloves, socks and slippers make perfect gifts for other (and for yourself). What are you waiting for – cast on!

Don’t forget the #giftalong2014 sale ends at midnight (EST) tomorrow 21st November. Until then a fantastic selection of patterns are 25%.

I have 19 designs featured in the discount promotion. Including Edina, the fingerless mitts and Maryfield, the cute lace cuffs from the Head to Toe collection. 

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Have a wonderful Friday.

Happy knitting,

Clare

 

My Top 10 “Neck Knits” #giftalong2014

In keeping with my #giftalong2014 theme I have selected some of my favourite “neck knits”. Ravelry is bursting with amazing cowls, shawls and scarves. Here are my top ten from the discounted patterns in this years Indy giftalong.

I love cables and this unusual cable style is not something I have seen around much. Shannon Cook pairs the sophisticated cable with some stunning grey yarn. Lansbury, the perfect cowl is born.

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I used to knit more shawls than socks, even though I now find myself working on socks more than shawls I still have a soft spot for a good shawl pattern.

Someday by Hanna Maciejewska uses two skeins of fingering weight. Sideways, garter stitch and the contrasting border. This looks like it would be a great knit, easy but not boring and the finished shape is simply stunning.

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Hrim by Bristol Ivy is one of my favourite shawl patterns of the moment. I love the shape, the combination of the yarn weights and textures. I am planning on knitting one of these shawls for myself. I need to choose the yarn from my stash but I am hoping to use some silk from Dye for Yarn, I just need to decide what to mix it with. The other shawls in the Frost Fair collection are also on my “to knit” list. If you had not already gathered Bristol Ivy can do no wrong in my knitting world at the moment.

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I am not always a bit beaded shawl fan. I like simple clean lines and unfussy details. The Sunburst Shawl by Helen Stewart ticks all these boxes. The shape is beautiful, a wide crescent shaped shawl is very practical and flattering at the same time. Helen has added the perfect amount of sparkle here with beaded accents that give glitz and glamour without being over the top. The yarn she has chosen is also amazing, that subtle grey in a base I know well by Kettle Yarn Co. Shawl perfection!

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Chunky shawls are not the norm and I think chunky lace is often difficult to get right. Elizabeth Felgate has nailed it here though. Three balls of fabulous New Lanark Chunky and you have a warm and cosy wrap for the winter. It is just what I need to keep me warm sitting at my desk this winter. The chunky yarn would also make a fabulously quick gift knit. 

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Garter stitch, stripes and unusual constructions. These two designs by Laura Aylor are quirky and fun. I love the concepts and squishy garter stitch always warms my heart.

Tuck wraps around your neck and ties at the back, meaning you can control the width easily and it will never mess up your hair.

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Hot Tea. Two layers of garter stitch! There is nothing more to add here. Two layers of garter stitch! (I had to repeat it because it makes me so excited). Squishy, stretchy and warm. Keep it plain and simple or go wild with stripes. Perfect for using up leftovers.

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Staying on the theme of textured stitches creating stunning cowls. I stumbled across this one by Galzanne Knits and instantly fell in love. The combination of slipped stitch rib and brioche stitch in Simply A Cowl work so well together.

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Another smorgasbord of texture in a cowl is Global Nomad, another fantastic knit by Helen Stewart. I won’t lie the grey and yellow drew me in, this is my favourite colour combination at the moment. The mixtures of textures and eyelets is a delight to the eye. Each panel works with the other while standing out on it’s own. I also love that is is worked in two colours, so many opportunities to play with colour combinations. Helen did a great podcast about Colour Theory recently, I found it really interesting.  

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Last, but certainly not least. A brilliant shawl by the very talented Jennifer Dassau. Rondelay has been on my knitting needles twice. I made one for my mother in law and then had to make another for myself. Rondelay is worked using short rows and comes from a series of short row shawl that are utterly brilliant. I highly recommend a look at Jennifer’s patterns.

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Don’t forget I also have a number of patterns in the #giftalong sale. You can find my 19 discounted patterns here. 

Brunswick is not only perfect for summer weather. It would also make a fabulous addition to your festive season party outfit. I am working on a heavier weight version of this pattern to be released in the coming weeks. If you buy the 4ply version now you will automatically get the heavier weight version when it is released.

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Happy knitting,

Clare

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My Top 10 Hats #giftalong2014

During the Ravelry GAL 2014 I will be running a series of blog posts featuring my favourite patterns. As you know I love searching through Ravelry to find interesting designs to share with you. I have selected patterns for all sorts of reasons, some are quick, some are quirky and some have interesting constructions. Others are just beautiful designs that I wanted to share.

First up the hat. I do love a good hat and there are so many fantastic designs to choose from on Ravelry. These are some of my favourite in the Indy GAL (#giftalong2014).

I really love the work that Alex Tinsley does, she has a style that resonates with me and I am often drawn to her patterns, hence why there are three hats in my favourites today. I kind of cheated and included three hats but only counted them as one in my top ten. There are just so many amazing hats to choose from. 

Zam Hat, a fun colourwork hat worked in worsted weight yarn. It also has a matching cowl. You can’t go wrong with some simple colourwork and this design is perfect for bold colour combinations.

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Fooler a Faker, a brioche free version of Hertbreaker (another of her designs) this hat looks super squishy and great fun to knit. It also has a pom pom (I was instantly sold at the pom pom)

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Finally Bivouac, a beautifully simple design that I have knitted before (I was actually wearing it just this morning). I love the striking line of eyelets and the slight slouch. This hat is a firm favourite.

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Kate Bostwick hails from Calgary where I visited earlier this year. I had a great time in the Rockies and can really appreciate that you need a good hat when the winter comes. I actually think you probably need multiple hats all at once. Her hat Cedar Shakes comes in two weights (fingering and aran) meaning you can knit one for everyone in the family. I love the textured stitch. Beautiful for showing off solid or variegated yarns.

Copyright Kate Bostwick. Used with permission.

Copyright Kate Bostwick. Used with permission.

Lee Meredith is well known for her quirky designs and interesting constructions. Her bold knits are utterly fabulous and I think Barry embodies everything that I love about the way she designs.

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Hinged from Katya Frankel has clean lines and a beautiful structure. Perfect for showing off subtly tonal hand dyed yarn. Four sizes means this has lots of scope to be the perfect gift or a new hat for you.

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Lucent by Hunter Hammersen has an unusual construction and a really flattering shape. I would not normally be drawn to this style of hat but I really like this. It is always nice to see something that is a little different but wonderfully flattering.

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Cables and lace add a feminine touch to Affectionate by Melissa Schaschwary. I think this hat would be perfect in a subtle pale grey (but then I think everything would be perfect in grey).

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Bristol Ivy is a design genius. Her shawls and garments are outstanding. I have been eyeing up her hat patterns too. Rekaviður bring together so many of the elements of Bristol’s work that I admire. Clean lines, clever details and designs that work perfectly with the chosen fibre.

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Sara Peterson’s hat Tindrer makes me think of the sound of fresh snow crunching underfoot. There is no sign of snow here in Edinburgh, just soggy wet weather but if there was snow I would want to be wearing this hat.

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Last but not least two fun hats for the little ones in your life. I know I said this was my ten favourite hats, but I got to the end and could not decide between these two so I included both of them.

Sassafras by Georgie Hallam comes in a wide range of sizes and I think it would be the perfect knit for my toddler. I love that you get to show off a cute button too.

Copyright Georgie Hallam. Used with permission.

Copyright Georgie Hallam. Used with permission.

The Elfbaby hat by Robynn Weldon is a cute hat (suitable for babies, children and adults with a wide range of sizes available) the various border options and a pixie style crown are a winner in my book. I love it!

Copyright Lorna Lynch| Robynn Weldon. Used with permission.

Copyright Robynn Weldon. Used with permission.

There you have it folks, my #giftalong2014 hat round up. There are many more fantastic designs out there. Remember these designs are all 25% off for the sale period. Pop along to the group for more info

I also have nineteen patterns available in the Ravelry #giftalong2014 including the wonderful Montrose Hat. You can find all my patterns that are discounted here. 

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Happy Knitting,

Clare

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