Friday, 22 June 2018

FO Friday: Marpleridge socks

One of the things I have been meaning to do for approximately forever is to knit socks for my husband. The small stumbling block has been that his feet are a UK size 14 and require over 100 g of sock yarn to knit a pair of socks. As anyone who routinely buys sock yarn in the UK knows, it usually comes in 100 g balls, so buying a second just to knit one pair of socks is a bit of a pain.

In April I finally bit the bullet and order two balls of Opal Solids in the colourway Petrol - I figured that something fairly neutral would be more likely to get worn, and that my husband would probably get more use out of socks made from a slightly more robust sock yarn than socks made from a merino-nylon blend.


As I wanted to keep these socks a surprise, I hid them in plain sight in a unicorn print project bag that was unlikely to draw any attention as it's one I use a lot, and used my trusty copy of Custom Socks by Kate Atherley to work out the sizing (if you knit socks as gifts, the sizing charts at the front of the book are worth the price alone!).



I knew that these socks were going to require quite a lot of knitting (I cast on 76 sts), and that the legs would require over 100 rows, so decided to knit socks with a simple pattern to them to keep me interested, and to make it easier to keep track of the row count for the various sections. The Marpleridge socks pattern from Custom socks ticked almost all the boxes (the largest stitch count given is slightly smaller than I needed, but as it's a 4 stitch repeat, it was easy enough for me to modify the pattern): the 4 row repeat was easy to count as every fourth row is a garter ridge (and I can reliably count to 22 if the markers are nice and clear), and knitting the 4 stitch pattern really wasn't much harder than knitting a vanilla sock.

I was surprised at how quickly these socks knitted up. I cast them on on May 7th (the first day of the Marathon sock KAL) and finished them by the end of May. I presented the first sock to my husband as a birthday present and after that point had to finish knitting them as he knew about them!


Here are the finished socks. I think they went down well - the photo is after wear as he wanted to wear them to work before I got a chance to take a photo of them! I might even make him another pair (eventually!).


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Pattern: Marpleridge by Kate Atherley
Yarn: Opal Solids (Zwerger Garn Opal 4-ply) in 5187 Petrol
Ravelry project page

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Yarnometer: May 2018

April was excellent for finishing things, but also for accumulating yarn! How did I fair in May?


Projects finished

Starlight Express socks
A pair of socks I'd been working on intermittently for a few months. I was so pleased to get these off the needles! You can read more about them here.


Festive socks
I'd say that these had been on the needles since November, but that would be a lie: I finished the first sock in December, then abandoned it in a project bag! It felt quite good to get the second sock knitted. You can read all about them here.



Socks for my husband
I had decided that I wanted to make my husband some socks for his birthday, and while I didn't have the whole pair done before the big day, I did present him with one, and managed to get the rest of the pair done by the end of the month. As these socks are giant I was really pleased to get them knitted within a calendar month! Their FO Friday post will be coming this Friday.


Two commissions
I can't share these with you yet, but in May I got two magazine commissions off the needles. Hopefully I'll be able to share them with you soon!

The ins and outs of yarn

Yarn in
  • 250g super chunky weight yarn from Love Knitting for review purposes (50g of this is a correction from last month - it hadn't occurred to me that the balls were 100g not 50g)
  • 650g of yarn for a children's jumper
  • 2200g of yarn for an adult size jumper commission (yes, that really is happening)!
  • 200g of beautiful yarn from Oh, for Hooks Sake! This yarn is so cheerful. I suspect it will become socks
  • A 200g yarn box from Unbelievawool; the theme was unicorns and is so pretty!
  • A 100g ball of self-striping birthday cake yarn from Strawberry Fields Yarn
  • A 550g assortment of yarn from Wool Warehouse (Drops had a sale on): aran weight yarn for a Christmas stocking, 100g of yarn for socks, and a selection of aran weight yarn for swatching for a jumper
  • 1000g of yarn for this amazing jumper, which I can't wait to get on the needles
Birthday cake yarn
Unicorn yarn


Yarn out
Destashed
  • 1800g went to new homes via eBay
Knitted
  • 76g for the Starlight Express socks
  • 173g for a cowl for a magazine
  • 80g for the festive socks
  • 115g for socks for my husband
  • 131g for a children's jumper

Total
Yarn in: 4150g
Yarn out or used: 2375g
Total: 1775g

Year to date (end of quarter one)
Yarn in: 16417g (!)
Yarn out: 4961g
Yarn used: 3716g
Total: 7740g

I have no idea quite how so much yarn came in over the course of May; quite a large amount was for commissions, and those are slowing down while I prepare for our new baby to arrive. I already know that June looks a bit better, so fingers crossed I don't suddenly buy loads in the final ten days!


Friday, 15 June 2018

FO Friday: Sock amnesty

You may recall that I am currently running a Marathon Sock KAL over in my Ravelry group (you can find out about it here). Well, when the KAL started, a few people asked whether WIPs (works-in-progress) were allowed. While I decided that they wouldn't be allowed for the main KAL, I did decide that they would be allowed for a separate warm-up thread to encourage people to get some socks finished before casting on their marathon socks. Handily this also acted as an encouragement for me to get some socks finished.

Starlight Express socks

First I decided to finish my 'Starlight Express' socks. I started these socks somewhere near the start of the year, and nicknamed them Starlight Express after the very sparkly, very 80s appropriate stripey yarn (which I bought at the British Wool Show last year). I had planned to knit these using the Vanilla is the New Black pattern, but I reached the heel section while I was on the train to Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March, and working a new heel is not conducive to relaxed train or sociable knitting, so I carried on knitting a tube ready to add afterthought heels at the end.


I simultaneously enjoyed and didn't enjoy knitting these socks. The knitting itself was fine - I always find knitting stripes motivational, but the stripes are quite wide, and somewhat muddy (there is no clear distinction between the end of one stripe and the start of the next), all of which slowed me down a bit. Matching the tubes was easy enough - I somehow managed to find the same point in the stripe sequence twice (this was quite possibly luck rather than judgement), but matching the heels proved much harder - I ended up knitting the second heel twice to improve the match and they still aren't perfect...

Afterthought heels - a small leap of faith...

The finished socks are lovely to wear though. Having knitted a lot of socks I now know that I like my sock yarn to be that bit grippier, so this commercial Opal sock yarn is perfect. I also think this may be the first pair of sparkly socks I have kept for myself! Every other pair has been gifted to someone else.


Pattern: Afterthought heel socks - improvised, so no pattern
Yarn: Zwerger Garn Opal Funny mit Silbereffekt, colourway 9332 Heiter
Ravelry project page

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Festive sockalong socks

The second pair of socks I finished for the warm-up portion of the Marathon sock KAL is the socks I cast on in November for the Festive Socklong that was being run by Amy from the Stranded Podcast. When I went to hunt these out I wasn't sure how much I had knitted, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had knitted the whole of the first sock, so just needed to knit the second to match. 


Having looked through my notes on Ravelry and in my phone (the two default places for writing notes about how I knitted socks) and coming up with nothing helpful, I had to examine the first sock carefully to establish how I knitted it. It turns out I had knitted the sock from the toe-up, with a Fish Lips Kiss heel, which was easy enough to replicate. I did fail on getting the socks to match fully as I didn't take into account that the yarn had two sections in the same colour on each colour repeat, oops. Not that it matters - the two socks have come out remarkably similar! One small thing I did on these socks that I do quite a lot with yarn that has pooled into stripes is to work the heel from the opposite end of the ball of yarn. This means you can work the heel without disrupting the striping, and I find it a pleasing fix.


While I could put these socks into a box and save them for Christmas-time, I've put them in my regular sock drawer as I think they're pretty subtly festive. I'm looking forward to wearing these ones.


Yarn: Unbelievawool Merino Nylon 75/25 in the colourway Jolly Holiday (a club colourway from December 2016)


Thursday, 14 June 2018

New designs: Reach for the Stars cushion and children's jumper

I have two new patterns for you, both on a astronomical theme: the Reach for the Stars children's jumper and cushion. Both items are from my Reach for the Stars collection, and go with the baby blanket that I released last year. Each item in the collection features a brightly coloured space rocket with a fiery trail, inspired by one of my children's favourite toys.



Both patterns are suitable for intermediate level knitters, and the intarsia section is provided both as charts (in greyscale and colour for your preference) and as written instructions.


 
The cushion features a large intarsia rocket, is fastened with four buttons across the back and is designed to fit a 46 cm (18 inch) square cushion with a little negative ease to ensure a nice plump cushion. The cushion is knitted flat in one piece, starting at the middle of the back with a ribbed button band, then the first half of the back, the front and the second half of the back are knitted in stocking stitch, and finally the ribbed buttonhole band is worked. The cushion is seamed down the side edges using mattress stitch.

The cushion sample is knitted in Paintbox Yarns Simply Chunky* [100% acrylic: 136 m (149 yds) to 100 g] in Midnight Blue (MC, 337), Buttercup Yellow (CC1, 322), Blood Orange (CC2, 319) and Pillar Red (CC3, 314).


 
The Reach for the Stars children's jumper is knitted in pieces from the bottom up; the neckline is picked up and knitted in the round after seaming the shoulders of the jumper. The rocket motif is incorporated using the intarsia technique.

The jumper is knitted in aran weight yarn, and has a casual fit with approximately 9 cm [3.5 in] positive ease, making it perfect as a cosy extra layer in the winter, or an outer layer as the weather starts to warm up.

Sample shown is knitted in size 4 years, in Paintbox Yarns Simply Aran* (100% acrylic, 184 m [201 yds] per 100 g ball) in Midnight Blue (237, MC), Buttercup Yellow (222, CC1), Blood Orange (219, CC2) and Pillar Red (214, CC3).

The pattern is written in 6 sizes: 2 (4, 6, 8, 10, 12) years, to fit chest sizes 53 cm [20.75 in], 58.5 cm [23 in], 63.5 cm [25 in], 67 cm [26.5 in], 71 cm [28 in], 76 cm [30 in] with approximately 9 cm [3.5 in] positive ease.

Introductory offer
If you'd like to pick up either pattern, why not make the most of my introductory offer? If you buy any of the patterns from the collection: the cushion, children's jumper or the blanket, there's 25% off until 11.59pm BST, June 24th 2018, no code needed. The patterns are also available in an ebook, which is also included in the offer – it's a bargain as you get all three patterns for the price of two – perfect if you're thinking of making more than one item.


*Affiliate link.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

WIP or RIP?

Over the late-May Bank Holiday weekend, I had an urge to do a bit of tidying. That weekend, we tidied our dining room, and I was surprised at just how much yarn there was lying about (I knew there was some - the yarn for upcoming magazine projects lives there, so there is always at least a small pile). One of the larger boxes of yarn contained the Dance on the Beach CAL that I started in 2016. The pattern consists of crocheted squares that are all joined together at the end, and while I had enjoyed the first few weeks of the CAL, I did start to get behind and lose interest. After about six weeks of the CAL, I put everything in the box and apparently hid it from sight and mind.


As soon as I opened the box I knew that I was never going to finish the project. We already own quite a lot of blankets, and I don’t love the pattern enough to really want the finished object. There were 28 completed squares, as well as 8 un-started balls of yarn. So I asked a few friends for places I could donate 8 inch squares to, and one suggested a charity called Sent with Love, which donates hand-made blankets to cancer patients in the U.K. The best bit is that if you don’t have enough squares for a blanket, you can send them individual squares and they collect them together to make into blankets. They also take yarn, so I donated the partial balls to them as well. The rest of the yarn has gone to a new home via eBay, as there’s still enough to make a sizeable project, and the colours coordinate beautifully.

Leftovers...

I’m sure that if I rummage through a few more cupboards I’ll find some other long-abandoned projects that could do with either finishing or being donated elsewhere... but for now I’m claiming this as an excellent piece of spring cleaning. Life is to short to finish a project that you don’t love.

Do you have any projects that you know you’re never going to go back to? What do you do with them?

Friday, 8 June 2018

FO Friday: Double Entrechat

A few weeks ago I spent a lovely day in Whitley Bay, one of my favourite northern coastal towns, at least in part because of the lovely yarn shop there: Ringarosie. A classic yarn shop, filled with haberdashery cabinets, yarns in all colours and weights, and tables displaying the finest wares, it really is a little yarn paradise. While I spent a lovely time browsing, I was aware that I probably didn’t need any more yarn so resisted the beautiful table of hand-dyed gems and the huge array of sock yarn. Is it possible to visit a beautiful yarn shop without leaving with something? I always find it a struggle, so decided that I could justify purchasing a couple of balls of aran weight yarn to knit two of my favourite Entrechat baby cardigans for upcoming arrivals.


The Entrechat cardigan by Lisa Chemery (Frogginette Knits) has to be one of my all-time favourite knitting patterns: I’ve knitted several as they are super-cute, super-quick and the smaller sizes can be knitted using a single 100g ball of aran weight yarn, which makes them pretty much the perfect gift for new baby girls.

If I’m gift-knitting for newborns I tend to chose machine-washable, easy-care yarns (I am a knitter and am aware how many newborn items I have destroyed by washing them incorrectly...), so decided to use Stylecraft Special Aran,* which comes in a decent array of colours, is machine washable and wears really well. As the cardigan is inherently girly, I decided to go overboard and knit one in purple and one in pink.


I knitted both in the 3-6 month size, and completed each within a few hours. I finished them off with gorgeous daisy buttons that made me think of the Mr Men and Little Miss characters. I cannot wait to see these on their intended recipients!


Each cardigan took 60 g of yarn, so I don’t have enough leftovers to make a second in either colour, but Lisa has a handy blog post about knitting a two-colour version that I’m thinking of making with the leftovers.

If you fancy making your own Entrechat cardigan, Lisa has patterns for an adult version, as well as baby and children’s versions in fingering, DK and aran weights, there’s also a matching bonnet pattern that is adorable (you can find them all in the Frogginette Ravelry store)! Lisa is running a KAL for all her Entrechat patterns over in her Ravelry group until the end of June 2018,** and until June 10th you can get 30% off any of the Entrechat patterns by using the code entrechatKAL

Do you have a go-to baby gift knit?

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Yarn: Stylecraft Special Aran* in Lavender (1188) and Magenta (1084)

*Affiliate link.
**You need to be a member of Ravelry to read this thread. Membership is free. 


Thursday, 7 June 2018

2nd birthday sale! Final few days

Apparently it's been two years since I submitted my PhD and started designing knitting patterns full time. To celebrate, I'm having a flash sale over in my Ravelry store until June 10th 2018, you can get any single patterns in my Ravelry store with 40% off. What do you need to do to claim this offer, I hear you ask? Simply head over to my Ravelry store, add the patterns you want to your shopping basket, and the 40% will come off automatically when you check out. Why not treat yourself?