Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Yarn Along: Welcome to 2019

Happy New Year!

It's the first Wednesday of the month (and indeed of the year), and that means it's Yarn Along day. For those of you who haven't been following my blog for very long, Yarn Along is a monthly blog feature where I let you know about my current work in progress (or works in progress, there are often a few) and what I'm currently reading. Yarn Along is organised by Ginny of Small Things, head to her post if books and crafts are your thing as all the Yarn Along posts for the month are linked there.

Things have quietened down a lot here in the Bird House since all the Christmas madness. All the gift knitting is complete, and this month I'm concentrating on knits for me. I started my Vinterskov sweater in October and have finally reached the yoke, so not much more to go! I'm currently working on the plain rounds before the colourwork, and it won't be long at all before I get to start on the trees. I'm now pretty confident I'm going with a pale lilac for the trees, having gone back and forth between a few options. This is the first bottom-up in-the-round jumper I've knitted and I am finding the yoke a bit tricky as all the weight of the jumper makes shuffling the stitches fiddly, but I'm nearly there, and really hope I'll be finished by Twelfth Night (I’ve just checked that and the date is ambiguous; I was thinking January 6th).

In the next day or two, I'll be swatching for my next jumper project, and I'm going for Bright Above Me, a gorgeous top-down jumper with stars around the yoke. I definitely need to swatch for this one as I'm knitting in Drops Karisma, which is a DK weight yarn, rather than the worsted weight yarn called for in the pattern. I'll be knitting this jumper as part of the This One's For Me KAL that I'm hosting in my Ravelry group. Full details can be found in this blog post. Once I've completed the yoke, I'll be swatching for a Chuck sweater as I like to have once tricky project on the needles, and one that is much more mindless.

Yarn for Bright Above Me
Yarn for Chuck

My current read is also knitting-themed as I'm reading A Stash of One's Own, a series of essays about knitters and their stash, curated by Clara Parkes. This book is a wonderful easy, yet thought-provoking read. It's fascinating to learn about other people's approaches to their stashes, whether their stashes are beautifully curated or a haphazard mishmash. I'd recommend this read to anyone who has an interest in yarn and knitting, or any other craft - there is more that unites us than separates us.

What are you currently working on and reading? Do you have any crafting or reading-related new year's resolutions? I'm going for the very conservative target of 12 books for 2019 (I'll be listing them here), so hopefully I'll be reading something else by the time I write my Yarn Along post for February! My only crafting target is to end the year with less yarn than the amount I started with, but I'll elaborate on that when I post the final few Yarnometer posts for 2018.

Happy knitting!

Saturday, 29 December 2018

It's all about me Knit Along (KAL): decisions, decisions...

A couple of days ago, I announced the launch of a three month long 'This one's for me KAL', starting on January 1st 2019 and ending March 31st 2019 (any time zone). 

All you need to do is to knit something that is destined to be for you and post about it in threads in my Ravelry group (chatter thread;* finished object thread*). Your project can be something big like a sweater or even a blanket, or it can be something small like a hat or a pair of socks. I'll be drawing one winner from each thread, so it doesn't matter if you don't manage to finish your item within the three months. You can read this post for the full details.

So, what am I considering knitting for the KAL? I’ve decided I’ll be knitting myself a jumper, but as I have several sweater quantities of yarn in my stash, that doesn’t narrow it down very much. Here, in no particular order are my top contenders.

This cardigan has been in my queue since it was in testing. It has a lace yoke that is knitted sideways, then the body is picked up along the bottom of the yoke. I have seen so many of these cardigans at yarn festivals, and really want one. The yarn I have planned for this is Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK in the vibrant Grass shade. As the sizing range on this is huge, I might even manage matchy-matchy mummy and baby cardigans.

Image copyright Tin Can Knits

Another ‘I saw this and knew I had to knit it’ jumper, this one is knitted top-down and features a star motif around the circular yoke. The pattern is written for worsted weight yarn, but I have some Drops Karisma (a DK weight) in the perfect colours (charcoal and mustard) that should work with a little tweaking of the pattern.

Image copyright Dieuwke Schack-Mulligan

This isn’t a jumper that would immediately have me itching to cast on, as written - the cropped length and very fitted style doesn’t really work on my long-bodied, ‘I’ve had three children’ figure - but there are some beautiful examples of modified versions in the projects.* I plan to lengthen the jumper to below the hip and to eliminate the waist shaping to make something rather more cozy and relaxed. I’ll be knitting this in Drops Nepal in Deep Red, which was a Christmas present this year.

Image copyright Andi Satterlund

A cardigan I have considering knitting for a while, this one has nice long lines, and pockets! I bought some Drops Karisma in dark grey and an autumnal rainbow at Yarndale this year, and would love to work the yoke in stripes and the rest of the cardigan in grey (omitting the texture on the back), creating something very similar to the Baby Vertebrae I knitted for my daughter in the summer. I think this would be perfect for layering once Spring starts to arrive in a couple of months.

Image copyright Sarah Cooke 

Which one is your favourite? What are you planning on knitting? Enjoy choosing something to cast on!

*Ravelry link. You need to be logged in to Ravelry for this link to work; membership is free.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

This one's for me knit along (KAL)

Over the course of November and December, I did an awful lot of gift knitting. I'm not even sure I meant to. My nieces' blankets that I started in the summer needed finishing, but those, and a stocking for my daughter, were the only gift projects I had planned at the start of November. Yet by the end of November I had committed to knitting two pairs of charity socks, two pairs of gift socks and a hat (that I knew would be perfect for the person I drew in a Secret Santa), so my nice relaxed Advent plans fell by the wayside, I didn't finish my festive jumper, and my daughter's stocking was completed on Christmas Eve (no one is surprised; the stockings for the older two were also finished on Christmas Eve). With this in mind, I have decided that the next project I cast on is going to be something for me, and I suspect some of you also feel that you deserve a little me-knitting.

I like my knitting for myself to be at a very leisurely non-stressful pace, so today I'm announcing a three month long 'This one's for me KAL', starting on January 1st 2019 and ending March 31st 2019 (any time zone). 

All you need to do is to knit something that is destined to be for you and post about it in threads in my Ravelry group. Your project can be something big like a sweater or even a blanket, or it can be something small like a hat or a pair of socks. 

I've set up two threads in my Ravelry group for the KAL. Thread one is a chatter thread and thread two is a finished object (FO) thread. I'll be drawing one winner from each thread, so it doesn't matter if you don't manage to finish your item within the three months.

I really hope you'll join me in some me-knitting. I can't wait to see what you come up with! I'm off to look through my stash and decide what to cast on first...

There are a few rules (clarifications really, this is a very relaxed KAL!):
1. The KAL runs from January 1st to March 31st 2019; works in progress do not count
2. Items should be made for you, not as gifts or for charity
3. Entries can be knitted or crocheted
4. One winner will be drawn from the chatter thread and one from the FO thread; you will only be eligible to win one prize (if the same person is drawn from both threads, I will re-draw from the FO thread)
5. You can make as many items as you like, but please make one entry in the FO thread and edit it to add extra items as you finish each item
6. This KAL is taking place in my Ravelry group; you must be a member of Ravelry to take part (membership is free) 

If you fancy sharing what you’re working on over on Instagram, don’t forget to tag me (@vikkibirddesigns), and use the hashtag #thisonesformekal

Friday, 30 November 2018

My calendar-free advent

Since March, I have seen adverts for indie-dyed advent calendars all over Instagram and Facebook. I love yarn (you might have noticed) and have been tempted by several of these delights, each one containing 24 surprise mini skeins that can be opened one day at a time in the run up to Christmas, but have resisted. I have had a yarn advent calendar for the past two years (two years ago I had three - one acrylic one from Paintbox Yarns, an Opal sock yarn one, and one made from mini skeins from my stash; last year's was an advent calendar swap, so I had twenty-four 5 g minis from a friend, and she had the same from me), and while I really enjoyed the excitement of opening the advent calendar every day and seeing what yarn I had, I wasn't enamoured with actually using the yarn.

The first year I had a yarn advent calendar, I had grand plans to add two squares to my sock yarn blanket every day. I did manage to add a few squares, but two squares a day resulted in not much time to knit anything else, and I got a bit bored of knitting garter stitch. I never did make a plan for what to do with the Paintbox Yarns advent calendar, and the balls are now live in a Kilner jar to make a lovely ornament in my living room (it’s the jar of mini balls I use for my Yarnometer photos). And last year I did knit a whole pair of socks over the course of advent using the minis from the calendar, but I only used a yarn from a few of the days as I don’t like the look of scrappy socks all that much, so used a neutral yarn to tie all the yarns together, which meant I only used about a third of the yarn, and the remaining balls are still living in a bag.

December isn’t a month in which I have a huge amount of free leisure time, with present shopping, festive food to be made (making mince pies with my kids is always a highlight of the festive period), school activities, socialising and generally enjoying the season, and I find setting myself the challenge of using all the yarn from an advent calendar to be an added stress I can do without. So this year I am doing something different, and over the course of December will be knitting a special project just for me, the Soul Warmer

I bought the kit for the Soul Warmer cowl while I was at Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March with the intention of knitting it over advent. The yarn for it (bought from Martin’s Lab, just this once I’m using the exact yarn used in the pattern) is lovely, and the pattern only requires 438 m of fingering weight yarn, which feels doable for a finished project that I will love and wear. I’m really looking forward to getting started tomorrow!

How do you feel about yarn advent calendars and scrap yarn projects? Do you have a special project to work on over the festive period?

Wishing you a peaceful advent, happy knitting.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

#showoffyourwoollysocks: Days 16-23

Since the start of November, I've been hosting the #showoffyourwoollysocks hashtag on Instagram as part of Wovember. Here's what I've shared on Days 16 to 23. You can find Days 1 to 7 here, and Days 8 to 15 here.

Day sixteen: Today's pair is knitted from a Regia yarn in one of the Arne and Carlos ranges. The yarn isn't from the Pairfect range, but I still found it really easy to make a matching pair. These socks were knitted from the toe-up with a heel flap and gusset and I love wearing them as they're nice and sturdy and fit really well.

Day seventeen: This is a pair of socks knitted in Knit Picks Felici. The yarn is gorgeous and soft, but I tend not to wear these that much as the pastel stripes look grubby really quickly. These socks have an afterthought heel.

Day eighteen: I think these might be my very favourite socks. They're knitted in the Mind the Gap colourway from Trailing Clouds with heels, toes and cuffs in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply. I made the stripe sequence go in one direction for the first sock and the opposite direction for the second to maximise the amount of yarn I used without risking a pair of socks offset by just one or two stripes. I used a Fish Lips Kiss heel and knitted these from the cuff-down.

Day nineteen: This was my first pair of socks. The fit isn't perfect, and I had to knit three socks to get a pair, but they represent the beginning of my sock knitting, and I'm proud that they are still wearable. They're knitted cuff-down with a heel flap and gusset and are knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in the Blue Tit colourway.

Day 20: Today's socks aren't worn often as they're the sample for my Siren Song pattern. The yarn is a beautiful semi-solid from Phileas Yarns and the colour is amazing, if impossible to photograph well!

Day 21: This slightly strange-looking pair of socks were an early attempt at a short-row heel. They're knitted from the toe-up in some yarn that I dyed using Kool Aid. As knitted, the yarn makes it look as though my toes have had a nasty accident, and the socks are both too big and the legs too short, so overall, not all that successful!

Day 22: I cast this pair of socks on last November, knitted the first one quite quickly, and finally knitted the second one this summer. The yarn is a festive yarn from Unbelievawool that I think is called Jolly Holiday. These socks will have several outings over the course of December.

Day 23: Another pair of stripey socks! These are knitted in a self-striping yarn from Rosie's Moments that I picked up at Yarndale a few years ago. I hadn't worn them in ages as I thought they were a tiny bit too long, but actually they were fine when I wore them last week, so they shall be removed from the fixing pile!

I'll be hosting the hashtag until the end of November (tomorrow), and I'd love for you to join in - keep on using the hashtag after the end of the month every time you want to show off some socks you're proud of. Full details can be found here, or just go to Instagram and post whatever woolly socks you're wearing today! Remember to use the hashtag!

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Yarnometer: September 2018

September was fairly quiet knitting-wise as I was having to juggle a new baby, but I did manage an impromptu trip to Yarndale.

Projects finished
A rainbow Baby Puerperium
I loved this project so much! Everything about it was a joy. I started it before our baby arrived, and knitted the sleeve and the neckband very, very slowly once she was here!

Socks for the Yarndale sock line
I technically missed the deadline to get these to Winwich Mum for the Yarndale Sock Line, but she kindly let me send them to her a few days late.

The ins and outs of yarn
Yarn in

  • 400 g of yarn for a stocking for the new baby
  • 250 g of yarn for a couple of pairs of Peeky Catsocks
  • 200 g from my third Knit Crate,* plus an extra 300 g as I like the yarn so much
  • 1000 g of Drops Karisma from Yarndale to make a long cardigan
  • 120 g of mini skeins from River Knits at Yarndale to use in a Buccaneer Shawl

Yarn out

  • 65 g for the Baby Puerperium
  • 81 g for the Yarndale socks

Yarn in: 2270 g
Yarn out or used: 146 g
Total: 2142 g

Year to date
Yarn in: 24 527 g
Yarn out: 12 363 g
Yarn used: 5264 g
Total: 6900 g

* Affiliate link. You'll get $10 off your first crate, and I'll get $10 towards a future purchase. I am not associated with Knit Crate, but really like their products.

Friday, 16 November 2018

#showoffyourwoollysocks: Days 8-15

Since the start of November, I've been hosting the #showoffyourwoollysocks hashtag on Instagram as part of Wovember. Here's what I've shared for days 8-15. You can find days 1-7 here.

Day eight: These are the socks I knitted from last year's advent calendar swap. I alternated the sock yarn scraps with a neutral (West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in Milk Bottle) to make them a bit more controlled, and I love them!

Day nine: I call these my Wimbledon socks, partly because of the colours (purple and green are the official colours of Wimbledon), and I knitted them over the course of Wimbledon in 2016. The yarn was a festive colourway from Mothy and the Squid, and is a 100% merino high twist yarn. I don't usually knit socks from yarn that doesn't include nylon (nylon adds strength to the yarn), but these are wearing surprisingly well. The socks have directional toes, which I love as they really improve the fit on my rather directional toes!

Day ten: These socks are the samples for my Lynda socks. They're knitted from the toe-up in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply (it's a favourite), in the colourway Butterscotch. The socks are lovely and bright, but I did feel a bit like I had duck feet for the whole day!

Day eleven: A pair of fabulously autumnal socks for day eleven. These are knitted in Paintbox Yarns Socks* in the colourway Summer Vacation. These socks make me think of the Doctor Who scarf, and I love them so much!**

Day twelve: These pretty socks are in a Regia Arne and Carlos colourway. These aren't one of the Pairfect yarns, but I love how closely I managed to get the socks to match (I find this easier when knitting the socks from the toe-up, which I did here). These are one of my favourite pairs of socks.

Day thirteen: Another design sample, these were the sample for my Amy socks. I love the ripple pattern on these. This is yet another pair of socks knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply.

Day fourteen: These fabulously sparkly socks are knitted in an Opal yarn. The yarn is the sparkliest that I have ever knitted with and I can't help smiling when I wear these socks. The colours make me think of licorice allsorts, and these socks are firm favourites. I knitted the socks with an afterthought heel as I got carried away and knitted way past the point where I wanted to put the heel in!

Day fifteen: This cheery red pair of socks are one of my earliest attempts at socks. They were definitely my first pair of toe-up socks. The fit isn't the best (the feet are fine, but the legs are too short, so are baggy round my rather skinny ankles). These socks are knitted in long-since discontinued Araucania Ranco.

I'll be hosting the hashtag until the end of November, and there's still plenty of time to join in. Full details can be found here, or just go to Instagram and post whatever woolly socks you're wearing today! Remember to use the hashtag!

* Affiliate link.

** Yarn was supplied for review purposes by Paintbox Yarns. All opinions are my own.