A challenging project can mean many things, it can be a project which stretches your skills in all directions, or it can mean a project which specifically pushes a certain technique to a higher level, or a project which has some interesting details which are out of the ordinary and make you pay that bit more attention.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I have gathered together a selection of projects which do present a challenge in one way or another. The challenge might suprise you. One of the most difficult skills to learn is evenly knitting stocking stitch over a wide area. It is usually thought that stocking stitch is easy for a beginner, but the opposite is the case, there is nowhere to hide, the eye will catch the smallest imperfection.
Another skill which is often not given enough attention is finishing, and I have choosen a couple of designs here because their ultimate sucess hangs on careful finishing.
Whatever your particular favourite technique you should find something here to interest you.
Firebirds Cardgian Patterncard Kit
The Firebirds Cardigan is in some ways a relatively straightforward design. It has set in sleeves and a deep rib, which do demand care, but the tricky part is the pattern setting when moving from one band of birds to another. Setting the pattern is crucial so that the alternate bands sit above each other, and care needs to be taken across the centre back once the armholes have been set. So this design is an exercise in pattern setting and watching both the chart and your knitting.
Jacobite Rose Patterncard Kit
Like the Firebirds Cardigan above this design is included not because of any particular challenge in the knitting itself, but because of the pattern setting. If you have not tried a vertical panel design before this cardigan is an excellent one to try. Vertical panels require very careful pattern setting and a close attention to your knitting as you progress, especially as you increase or decrease and add or remove chart patt stitches.
Henrietta Patterncard Kit
The Henrietta is a design where the tension and finishing are all important. The collar requires a perfect tension so that the inside and outside match, and the finishing must be perfect to set the stranded piece. The collar is the focal point of the whole design and it is one to take time and care over.
It is important to show some smaller projects which can still present something a bit different. At any ability standed gloves are a challenge if you have not tried them before, but in addtion the Capillifolium hat features little ear flaps, which are a wonderful little skill developer in curved shaping and the all important neat and careful finishing!
Merveille Du Jour Patterncard Kit
The Merveille du Jour poncho offers the opportunity to test your plain knitting, and then also try out a stranded yoke. Keeping your tension even thoughout the stocking stitch main body, the stranded yoke and the ribbed edgings will really make you pay attention to your tension over different techniques.
Mol Eire Patterncard Kit
Like the Mervielle du Jour the Mol Eire also features stocking stich, but the main challenge for this design is the careful making, assembling and knitting together of the platelets that form the bottom of the pullover. Neat finishing and even pickup is essential so that your edging is perfect.
Graceknot Patterncard Kit
The Graceknot features Celtic knotwork in an a-line shape. The knotwork itself requires care especially when beginning and ending each knot and positioning each row, but the main challenge is in the collar, which also features knots. This is a good project for anyone looking to develop their cable skills on from something more straightforward like the Na Craga.
Herald Full Set Patterncard Kit
The Herald full set features some very interesting shaping and ruffling at the edgings of the pullover and cowl. This is a great place to try out short rows and knitting together neatly, as well as shaping within the stranded cowl. This is a good place to gain an understanding of garment construction.
The Elizabethan Jacket from the book A Collector's Item is a complex stranded design. It involves godets from hem to waist and shaping in to the waist and out to the armholes while knitting a large scale charted pattern. This is one of the most difficult stranded designs which we have on the website, and it really stretches your stranded knitting ability. You will need a copy of the book A Collector's Item for the pattern instructions.
The Kimberley from the book A Collector's Item is very much focused on finishing. The design is made in sections with a raglan sleeve with the main pieces in stocking stitch. Stranded inserts are made seperately, embroidered and sewed in to the finished and blocked out main pieces, which are finished with edgings. It is another excellent exercise in garment construction and finishing. It requires great attention to detail as the inserts draw the eye. You will need a copy of the book A Collector's Item for the pattern instructions.
The Eala Bhan design from the book Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore (2010 edition) is a very complex cabled design. It is shaped througout the body and sleeves, with the shaping occuring within the actual cables, which are themselves intricate. The collar is also very challenging, it is the most complex cabled design which I have created and does stretch the skills in this area. Please note that you will need a copy of the book for the pattern instructions, the yarn pack linked below is yarn only.
Mountain Hare Jacket
The Mountain Hare Jacket design from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore involves delicate and intricate knit and purl textures which are enhanced by embroidery which becomes more vibrant as the design progresses upwards. The jacket itself has a back vent and sleeves with a lightly gathered cap. The compexity comes with maintaining an even tension throughout while keeping continuity of pattern, and shaping the garment. The finishing is key with the embroidery providing a dramatic touch to the design. Felted buttons also add another skill. Please note that you will need a copy of the book for the pattern instructions, the yarn pack linked below is yarn only.
The Damselfly cardigan design from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore is a complex stranded design which also involves stocking stitch, shaping and areas of knitting together. The shaped upper stranded part needs to be carefully set and attention should be paid to the chart pattern. Please note that you will need a copy of the book for the pattern instructions, the yarn pack linked below is yarn only.
Sea Anemone Pullover
The Sea Anemone design from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore is, like the Mountain Hare Jacket, an exercise in texture, embroidery and finishing. complex stranded design which also involves stocking stitch, shaping and areas of knitting together. The shaped body is embelished by delicate textures, and is finished with dramatic ruffles at the neck and cuffs. Please note that you will need a copy of the book for the pattern instructions, the yarn pack linked below is yarn only.
The Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Jane Seymour designs from Tudor Roses by Alice Starmore (2013 & 2017 editions) all involve texture and colourwork within complex garment shapes. These three designs are all very different, but they all demand an equal amount of attention to detail in their making and construction. In terms of texture and colourwork these a way to really bring your skills up to expert level. They all take time and patience, and are worth taking time over.
Please note that you will need a copy of the book for the pattern instructions, the yarn packs linked below are for yarn only.