Friday, 30 May 2014

FO Friday: Velvet Rose

A really lovely pattern to share with you today - the new design by Helen Stewart of the Curious Handmade Podcast: Velvet Rose shawl.

I was lucky enough to be able to help out with test knitting this lovely shawl, especially as it meant that I was able to use almost every last inch of some wonderful Golden Skein Yarn. I used the Dye For Yarn merino/baby camel from the last Golden Skein package - Tornado over London.

It is a fingering weight yarn with a squooshy 480m per skein and so I wanted a project that would allow me to use up almost all of the yarn, without leaving too much in my 'leftovers' bag.

I haven't knit one of Helen's patterns before but I had heard from other knitters that she writes her patterns in a really lovely, clear way and I'm pleased to confirm that this is indeed so. In particular she includes stitch counts after increase rows along with the percentage of yarn used. I really loved this aspect as it meant I had the confidence in my remaining yarn and that I didn't have to play 'yarn chicken' - as mentioned by the Knitmore Girls - as I approached the bind-off.

The yarn knit up wonderfully, the pattern was fabulous and the whole thing was just a pleasure to knit, and in little under a week, amazingly quick too.

Isn't is great when yarn and pattern combine in perfect harmony?

Friday, 23 May 2014

FO Friday - More socks

I do love having a finished pair of socks ready for the weekend. I tried them on yesterday morning before work for a quick photo and I loved them so much that I really begrudged taking them off.

I have a professional working life away from the knitting (I'm not quite ready to give up the day job yet) and few, if any, of my colleagues know about my crafty life outside of work. There are times though when I wish the two could overlap a little and I could express my creative side at work a little more. Who knows, it might even be fun, and heaven forbid, liven up the day a little.

In winter I can be quietly subversive and wear my hand knit socks in my boots but in summer I just have to resign my hand knit socks to the sock drawer and just bring them out at weekends. I'd love to be able to wear the 'Mary-Janes with socks' look but I fear that might be a step too far for my colleagues.

Anyway, down to knitting business. The yarn is from the incomparable Sparkleduck in the aptly named Rainbow colourway. The colours change rapidly so that on average you get 2 colour changes per round of sock.

Knit on 2.5mm needles with 60st I found that this made for the perfect balance of striping and movement and didn't result in large blocks of colours as I first feared. Perfect, clever dying from a very talented indie - dyer. Not surprisingly I think the Sheep Shop has sold out but rumour has it that more will be in stock shortly.

Maybe we could all knit a pair and wear them to work with pride. Never mind Knit in Public day - we ought to be able to have a 'Wear your hand knit socks to work day'. Although, on reflection I think we need a catchier title.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

New Ideas

So, did I finish the Peasy cardigan in time for my sock knitting class?

What do you think? Obviously not. By the Friday evening I had finished the body but still had two sleeves to do - boo. Still, I have done a great chunk of it and I will aim to get it finished in time for my next knitting class in June. Instead of an FO, I will therefore distract you with a photo of my short-listed yarns for my next pattern sample :)

My Toe-Up socks class was great fun on Saturday and five lovely ladies all produced successful  baby socks using the magic loop technique. Coffee and amazing cake (provided by the lovely Shirley aka Swarbrick on Ravelry) helped us on our way and I think that everyone had a good time.

A chance conversation with the amazingly intrepid Kerry (KerryWallis) - who not only tried toe-up magic loop for the first time, but then went on to cast on for two-at-a-time toe-up socks - inspired an idea for a new sock class.

To be called "Further Adventures in Sock Knitting", this class will be designed for those who have knit a few pairs of socks and are looking to expand their sockie horizons further. By exploring different options for heels and toes as well as some more unusual techniques the aim will be to increase confidence and have fun playing with different methods of construction.

So, put a date in your diary for Saturday 2nd August (10am-1pm) and give Sarah at the Sheep Shop a call if you'd like to book.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Impossible ?

Now, I am a sensible person normally and if someone were to tell me of their plans to knit a sweater in a week I would gently remind them of the laws of space and time. But for some reason I don't apply the same advice to myself. 

Surely, normal rules don't apply to me. Even though I am working 4 days this week and the sweater in question has long sleeves and is knit on 3.5mm needles.

Totally realistic to expect to have a finished sweater ready to wear for teaching my toe-up sock class on

I suspect this is an exercise in futility. But does it stop me trying? Nooooo...

The sweater is Peasy by the way in some lovely Rowan Felted Tweed that I picked up on sale recently.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Sock heaven

Now, heaven knows I have no shortage of socks on my needles at the moment. I have a complicated toe-up design which is currently tying my brain in knots. I have a straightforward sample knit which is quite relaxing, but suffering ever-so-slightly from 'second sock syndrome'. I have a plain pair of grey socks for my father in law which are languishing in the WIP pile - plain, grey, huge - not very appealing -say no more.

And then, into my sock knitting doldrums drops this little beauty:

The very talented Sparkleduck has produced a wonderful rainbow yarn in her fabulous Socka base, which produces two colours per round on a sock. The colourway is Warm Rainbow (in case you were wondering).

I can be a little colour-shy sometimes but this yarn positively sang to me and implored me to take it home and knit I did:

I was dithering about whether to do an afterthought heel so as not to interrupt the stripes but in the end I plumped for my favourite Fish Lips Kiss Heel and I love the way the stripes work over the heel - great fun.

I was also a little worried about potential pooling and did consider a pattern designed to work with highly variegated yarn such as Hermione's Everyday socks but in the end I decided to just go with the flow. With 60st on 2.5mm needles the stripes worked up into a very pleasing sequence that is strangely hypnotic to knit.

I sock down, and 1 to go.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Month of Socks

Just sprinting through before the school run to let you know about the Must Stash podcast and their fabulous Month of Socks event. If you haven't tried the podcast before I can highly recommend it - Steph and Stacie are great fun and very informative - with lots of great projects to inspire you.

To go along with the event I am offering 25% discount on all my patterns until 7th May - use the code SOCKSINMAY at the checkout - and come join in the sockie fun.

Once you've cast on, use the hashtag #monthofsocks on Twitter/Instagram etc to see what everyone else is up to.



Thursday, 1 May 2014

Sock yarn blankie

Don't worry, I won't bore you too much with photos of a mitered square blanket growing at a snails pace but once I month I will post a tally of how many squares I have completed. More as a means of keeping the project 'front and centre'. otherwise, I know what I'm like. It will slide to the bottom of my WIPs basket and then further into dusty oblivion before being rescued during a marathon cleaning attempt.

So In April I did a grand total of 40 squares - it has grown a little since this photo was taken - and I'm really enjoying it.

I am trying to stick to mainly UK indie dyers yarn - fortunately I have many (many) leftovers and am loving how all the different colours and tones come together.

Very addictive. Just need to keep reminding myself to pick it up at least every other day to keep the momentum going.

Blocking party

I'm very much looking forward to Saturday when I will be at the Sheep Shop in Cambridge. The lovely Sarah runs possibly my favourite yarn shop ever with lots of scrummy yarn, fibre and other goodies. Amongst the many delights she is a stockist of Sparkleduck - a firm sock yarn favourite and I can never resist the temptation to 'stock up' while I'm there.

The very talented Joanne Scrace aka Not So Granny will be there between 1-2 and 3-4 holding a free drop-in clinic for both knitting and crochet.

I will be there between 3-4pm to answer any general sock questions and will also have samples of my sock designs to 'show and tell'.

In preparation, a frantic bit of blocking took place yesterday - thank goodness for sunny weather.

There's nothing like seeing a lot of handknits gently drying in the sun.

I think it did confuse the postman a bit though.