Thursday, 24 September 2015

Estimating yardage - or - how to avoid playing yarn chicken

I recently shared a baby blanket project I had been working on using up partial skeins of leftover Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. It is my go-to favourite for easy-care baby knits and so I inevitably am left with lots of partial balls to use up.

The project generated a lot of interest and questions, most notably how I estimate the amount of yarn needed for each colour block. I thought it might be helpful to share my process with you - in the spirit of thriftiness and virtuous stash busting.

If you are happy with truely random stripes then just crack on and knit that blanket however it pleases you. Needless to say that my brain doesn't really do random and  I did need to decide on some kind of structure and uniformity. As I was knitting I decided that solid blocks of colour would work well, interspersed with sections of narrower stripes and so, when I was embarking on a coloured section I needed to make sure I had enough of that chosen colour to complete the block.

I'm sure there are many methods of estimating yardage out there but what I did was to use a paperclip to mark off 100cm of my working yarn. You can clip the paperclip right onto the yarn and it will stay in place. I then knitted as normal with the working yarn, counting my stitches as I did so until I reached the paperclip.

This gave me the number of stitches which were needed to knit 100cm of yarn. In my case this equated to 50 stitches.

So, 50 stitches needs 100cm (meaning that 1 st uses 2cm)

Each colour block required 9 garter ridges (18 rows)

18 x 120 = 2160 stitches

2160 x 2cm yarn = 4320 cm ( 43.2 m) 

Being able to knit on a colour block without the anxiety of playing yarn chicken really helped me to plough through the knitting. There are times when a knitter likes to live dangerously but this project wasn't one of them. And with my trusty paperclip to hand I could relax in the knowledge that my yarn wouldn't run out partway through a row.

Do you have a favourite tip or trick for avoiding the dreaded yarn chicken? Do leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Drift Collection

I have news of another pattern release this week, and it is all the more exciting for being under wraps for so long.

I was approached by Victoria of Eden Cottage yarns to work with her and a number of very talented designers on a new collaborative collection featuring her amazingly smooshy Whitfell alpaca dk yarn.

by kind permission of Victoria Magnus

The Drift collection was published at the weekend and it has been wonderfully well received. The photography and styling is beautiful and Victoria does a wonderful job of modelling many of the pieces.

She has put together a look book which you can see here and all the patterns are available on Ravelry, either individually or as an e-book. As if that weren't enough pre-orders are also being taken for the printed version too which comes with a dinky download code to pop the patterns into your Ravelry library.

I was really pleased to work such a talented bunch of people and the whole collection is really well worth a look. 
Drift Collection ebook on Ravelry

The alpaca yarn was wonderful to work with and one thing that struck me whilst swatching with it is it's versatility. The Hardcastle Mitts were worked at a fairly firm gauge on 3mm needles to give a harder wearing fabric, but it was equally at home worked on 4mm or 5mm needles for a more lofty fabric. As you would expect from Victoria there are some amazing shades to choose from and to tempt you.

Do leave a comment below and let me know what you think - I'd love to hear what you are planning to make.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

A new designer on the block

I am thrilled to be able to share a new designer with you today. Claire of the New Hampshire Knits podcast has been a great supporter of mine over recent months, notably hosting a KAL of my sock patterns and mentioning me frequently on her podcast. She has now made her debut into the world of design and I am thrilled to be able to return the favour.

Agatha Socks - ©NH Knits

Her first sock pattern - Agatha is a cuff down sock with a textured pattern that looks as though it will simply fly off the needles once you get into it. She is hosting a KAL over on her group and there is also an introductory discount for the next few days.

If you would like to win a free copy of the pattern. Please just leave a comment below with your Ravelry name and let me know who you would knit the Agatha socks for. I'll draw a winner at random next Saturday - Sat 26th September and I'll pop the pattern into your Ravelry library.

Happy Knittng

Thursday, 17 September 2015



That was the sound of summer whizzing by and autumn arriving with a wet and windy flourish in here in my part of the UK. After a fairly damp summer we have been plunged straight into darker, colder mornings and the central heating is well and truly on.

Weather report aside, the arrival of autumn means only one thing to the serious sock knitter. I am talking of course about Socktober. A month of all things dedicated to sock knitting in all it's glory and I'm pleased to report a veritable cornucopia of sock related goings on this coming month.

First of all we have Isla of Brit Yarns who is hosting a Socktober knit-along - the Great British Socks Away KAL starting on 1st October. The rules are simple and straightforward and can be found here but the main stipulation is that you must use wool grown in Great Britain (or local to you, for non GB residents).

Isla has also put together a great blog post featuring some fabulous pattern ideas, including patterns from Clare Devine, Rachel Coopey and my very own Rosthwaite socks also get a mention.

Rosthwaite Socks by Louise Tilbrook Designs
In other sock news I am having a Socktober promotion in my Ravelry store with 30% discount of any of my sock patterns. Just use the code Socktober at checkout.

Socktober - Louise Tilbrook Designs

On a personal level I am planning to have a good sort out of my socks projects during the coming month. My own sock drawer is in need of some replenishment and I have a few WIPs which have lingered far too long on the needles. So, as well as participating in the #gbsocksawaykal I will also be working on a good number of other sock projects. Which reminds me... with all the sock related action maybe I should put an order in for some more sock needles. You can never have too many after all - right?

Saturday, 5 September 2015


The Expresso socks were inspired by two great loves of my life - coffee and self-striping yarn.

Expresso -Louise Tilbrook Designs

The yarn came first. Dyed by Michelle of Berry Colorful Yarnings, this colourway called Cafe au Lait, really spoke to me and as soon as it arrived I couldn't wait to cast it on.

I do love a good self-striping yarn as you know but this time I felt the urge to vary things a little and move away from my usual plain vanilla, toe-up, magic loop socks. I divided the sock into vertical colums and added a travelling cable. Not so much as to break up those beautiful wide bands of colour, but enough to add interest and a little bit of texture.

And I have to say that I am really pleased with the finished product. I love that they are completely unisex and that even my husband asked if I could do a pair in his size.

They are toe-up - in my quest to convert sock knitters everywhere to the way of the toe-up sock and sized for 7", 8" and 9" foot circumference.

Until 11th September 2015 I am offering a 25% discount if you use the code ILOVECOFFEE at checkout. If you wanted to subscribe to the newsletter - I am offering an exclusive discount for subscribers so now might be a good time to sign up.

And in case you are wondering about the name. My lovely Grandma who taught me to knit would often come out with the funniest things when we were out and about. She would get one word mixed up with another - called malapropisms I believe - often with hilarious consequences. She would often tell people, when she reached the ripe old age of 75 that she still had all her 'facilties' (she meant faculties).
Whenever she was in a coffee shop she never drank anything stronger than a cappuccino but was fascinated by the small, strong, dark Espresso. She always insisted though that it was called an Expresso and it became a bit of a family joke.

Sadly my Grandma is no longer with us but these socks remind me of her, her wit and warmth and her generosity in teaching me somthing which has become so important to me.

Cheers Nana