Monday, 28 September 2020

Ever fancied becoming a test knitter?

Before I self-publish my designs, I like to get them test-knitted. This involves me sending you a preview copy of the pattern (after it has been tech-edited) and you working the pattern up in your choice of yarn by a (usually pretty relaxed) deadline. You send me feedback on the pattern, and you get to keep the finished object. If this sounds like the sort of thing that might interest you, why not sign up to my test knitter notication list?

Every time I launch a new test, I send the people on my notification list an email telling them about what the test involves and details on how to sign up for the test. Being on my list does not guarantee you a place on a test, nor does it obligate you to test for me. As a bonus incentive, if you complete a test for me, I add you to a prize draw. Once I get to ten entrants, I draw a winner. The prize value is of the order of £20.

If you're interested in test knitting, you can sign up here. I have some crochet designs up my sleeve too, so if you're a crochether who is interested in testing for me, fill in the form!

Friday, 25 September 2020

Seed Head Socks: £220 for Marie Curie!

I am delighted to let you know that sales of my Seed Head Socks between July 15th and August 14th this year raised £220 for Marie Curie via the Flower Power Fund!

The pattern is still available via Ravelry,* LoveCrafts and PayHip, and while it no longer includes a charity donation, it is still an excellent value pattern that will enable you to knit yourself or a loved one a beautiful pair of socks!


The Flower Power Fund is continuing to fundraise throughout 2020, with patterns and yarns for sale that include a donation to Marie Curie. The best way to keep up with what's on offer is by following the Flower Power Fund on Instagram.

*Ravelry may cause issues for people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

#gbboknitalong: Knitalong a Bake Off!

 Hello! I'm popping in today to announce an impromptu knitalong over on Instagram.

The Great British Bake Off starts on Channel 4 this evening, and I am really excited about it - I think it will be an excellent antedote to everything else that's going on at the minute. I discovered this morning that I have both a cake-themed project bag, and some cake-themed yarn, so decided that over the course of Bake Off, I will be turning my yarn into a pair of socks.


Obviously cake is better shared with friends, and the same is true of knitting, so maybe you'd like to join me in a Bake Off knitalong? I'm hosting the knitalong on Instagram, just tag your posts with #gbboknitalong and I'll make sure I check them out. 

I won't be able to watch the Bake Off live every week - sometimes I'll be caught up with other things, so those weeks I'll do my knitting while watching Bake Off on catch-up. If you need to do the same, that's absolutely fine.


I'm casting on a new project for #gbboknitalong, but this is a really informal knitalong, so if you'd prefer to join in with a work in progress, do that instead. The same applies to crochet or any other craft!

Yarn is Birthday Cake Self Striping by Strawberry Fields Yarn; bag is by KnitRunDig.



Marathon Sock KAL UPDATE!

Over in my Ravelry group* we've been knitting socks for the Marathon Sock KAL since May 1st, and we're nearly there! I've just tallied up the socks that have been posted at in the FO thread and we're 78.8% of the way to a full marathon!


There's still plenty of time to join in if you'd like. Here's a reminder of all the details.

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The Marathon Sock KAL - a KAL that involves a collective effort to knit a marathon’s worth of yarn** is back for its third year!

The Marathon Sock KAL started on May 1st 2020 and runs until we have knitted the full 26 miles of yarn.

Do I have to knit the full 26 miles by myself? No, of course not! All you have to do is knit a pair of adult-sized socks, and add a photo of them to the finished-object thread (opening soon) when they’re done, noting the amount of yarn used. I’ll add up all the yarn lengths from each post, and we should quite quickly have knitted a marathon’s worth of yarn.

The chatter thread is open now in my Ravelry group, so you can chat while you cast on and knit your socks.

Happy knitting!

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Aim

Knit a Marathon’s worth of socks: 26.219 miles of sock yarn converted into socks.

Rules

  • Socks must be cast-on on or after May 1st 2020
  • Socks can be knitted or crocheted in any yarn weight
  • All socks must have a proper heel (no yoga or tube socks)
  • The KAL will close once the full 26 miles of yarn have been knitted
  • You must post a photo of your socks to the KAL FO thread, including the exact number of metres of yarn you used (to the nearest metre) for your metres to count in the total
  • New for this year: SECOND SOCKS COUNT! You don’t have to knit a full pair of socks, a single sock will count. If you are using a single sock as an entry, please include only the number of metres used to knit that sock
  • I’ll keep a running total for the group
  • To be eligible for a prize on Ravelry, you must be a member of the Ravelry group
  • If you’re on Instagram, use the hashtag #marathonsockkal2020; to be eligible for a prize on Instagram, you must follow @vikkibirddesigns on Instagram
  • Only hand-knitting/crochet will count, not machine knitting. If you have machine-knitted a sock tube and are adding heels/toes/cuffs by hand, the metres you used for the heels/toes/cuffs can be counted towards the total

Prizes

  • One prize drawn from #marathonsockkal2020 on Instagram
  • One prize drawn from the chatter thread
  • One prize drawn from the FO thread (one entry per 100 m of yarn used)
  • One prize drawn from entries in the FO thread that are knitted using a pattern by Vikki Bird Designs (one entry per 100 m of yarn used)

*Ravelry link. May cause issues for people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution.

**26.219 miles = 42 195 m; each of my pairs of socks uses approximately 300 m of yarn (assuming sock weight yarn at 400 m per 100 g)

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Vikki Makes Things

Hello there Autumn! For the past few weeks, there have been hints of autumn starting to crop up: the odd leaf on the floor, an occasional cooler morning, the evenings drawing in, the kids finally returning to school after many months off. Unfortunately, this year, those signs of autumn have brought with them an increase in cases of Covid, so our region has just gone into a local lockdown. Since the kids had gone back to school, I had been getting used to being able to see friends again, and spending days at the park enjoying the last of the summer's sunshine. The next few weeks promise more time at home again, but with the kids still in school (for the time being at least), which has me somewhat optimistic about the possibility of additional crafting, sewing and baking time!

I seem to have amassed quite a pile of sewing materials over the past few months and years, and I would love to be able to turn all of it into wearable items: last week I stitched a dress for me! I genuinely can't remember the last time I did that. I remembered to make the length adjustments as I went, and the fit is pretty good, so the dress is definitely wearable, which has filled me with a renewed enthusiasm for dressmaking.

Cooler, darker evenings always inspire me to return to the kitchen - there's something so welcoming about filling the house with the aromas of baking, and the kids are always enthusiastic to sample my baked goodies. Great British Bake Off also returns to our screens next week, which never fails to fill me a desire to try out new recipes.


Last year I loved knitting my way through a yarn advent calendar, adding a square to my mitred square blanket every day in the run up to Christmas, and I'm hoping that I might get the blanket out early this year and start adding squares using the leftovers from all the socks I've knitted over the past year or so. The mitred square blanket has got to a scale now where I can't work on it during the warmer months as I have to sit under it to add extra squares!

The past couple of years have seen me add a few knitted garments to my wardrobe - my Lush by Tin Can Knits that I knitted last summer is pefect over a dress with tights and boots, and the Love Note I knitted this summer is similarly versatile. I also have a Pavement sweater that I knitted three years ago that pairs well with jeans and is good for layering. All these knits have given me confidence to keep on knitting garments, so last weekend I cast on a Chuck sweater that I want to have finished by the end of October - it will be a welcome addition to my wardrobe as it is winter-weight without being festive! I own several Christmas jumpers, which get heavy wear in December, then put away for the following 11 months, leaving a gap in my wardrobe in January and February when jumpers are much needed.


Of course, all of these things are projects that I am enthusiastic about, but that definitely can't be defined as 'work', and this is the blog for my business, Vikki Bird Designs. I still want to share all of these makes with you all, but to keep them separate, so this weekend, I finally set up an Instagram account for all my non-work makes: vikkimakesthings In all likelihood, there will be a good mix of baking, sewing, knitting and crochet, plus some other things I haven't thought of yet. If you fancy following, you'd be very welcome.


 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Tiptoe through the leaves: Little Pine Cone Socks

Autumn is here, and I have a new, decidely autumnal, pattern to share with you today, my Little Pine Cone Socks.*

 

These socks are inspired by autumnal walks through the woods, as the leaves are changing colour and crunching underfoot. The socks feature a lace pine-cone motif on the fronts of the socks, leaving the backs of the socks unpatterned, making these a lovely quick knit.

The socks are knitted in Needle and Fred BFL Sock in the colourway Marma-lady, a fabulous display of shades of orange. The yarn was a real treat to work with, and the BFL (Blue-faced Lesicester) means these socks will be sturdy as well as soft.

 

The Little Pine Cone Socks are knitted from the toe up, with a heel flap and gusset construction. They come in a whopping EIGHT sizes, so you can make them for the whole family!

Want to get your hands on a copy? The pattern is in Issue 120 of Knit Now magazine, which is available in all good newsagents from September 17th 2020. If you can't get to the shops, you can order a copy online, or buy a digital edition of the magazine.

 

All the details for the pattern can be found on the Ravelry pattern page, which is also where you can go to add the pattern to your favourites or queue.*

 *Ravelry may cause issues for people with photosensitivity. Proceed with caution. 

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All images copyright Knit Now.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

My summer of reading

At the start of the year I started logging what I was reading on Goodreads, and set myself a target to read 20 books in 2020. I used to be an avid reader, but that had dropped by the wayside as life became busier with children, work and general life stuff. I started the year well, then the pandemic hit, and my reading slowed back to almost nothing as I go distracted by what was happening in the news. At some point a few months ago, I made the conscious decision to spend less time scrolling on my phone, and more time reading. At the minute I have four books on the go at a time: one ebook, one paperback, one hardback and one audiobook, which seems to cover all eventualities! I am lucky that I can read at the same time as knit, so if I'm knitting a large stretch of stocking stitch, I'll have a hardback or ebook on the go at the same time. If the knitting is a bit more complicated, I'll listen to an audiobook. The paperback is saved for when I go to bed, so that book will often take me ages to read!

Here's what I've been reading for the past few months.

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Pretending by Holly Bourne


I listened to this on Audible while doing chores and it was fantastic!

Story review:
Holly Bourne has a reputation for tackling challenging issues in a really engaging way, and Pretending is no exception. April has been hurt in a previous relationship and convinced herself that men only want perfect women, women like Gretel, who April creates as an alter ego.

April sets up an online dating profile as Gretel and soon meets someone who seems to really like ‘Gretel’. But is Gretel what men really want? Or is it April?

Bourne investigates how it is possible to recover from an abusive relationship and regain trust in others. This book was sensitively written and offered several interesting points of view.

Audible review:
The narrator has a fantastically charismatic voice that was really engaging. Some of the production was poor, which the odd short repeated section that was distracting. Overall a good listen though. 4.5 stars 
 
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Sunny Side Up: A Story of Kindness and Joy by Susan Calman

I enjoyed Calman’s first book, so picked this up on a whim when I saw it on sale. This book is about finding joy in the little things, and I can definitely get on board with that, but the book was far too long and rambling for my liking, and was mostly directionless. 2.5 stars. 

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman* 

The Thursday Murder Club centres on a luxury retirement home, where a group of residents get together once a week to solve unsolved crimes. One day, a real crime happens in the area and the group set about solving it.

I’m familiar with Richard Osman from Pointless and comedy panel shows, and I feel this book was written in a style that is in keeping with his voice (warm, with wit and sarcasm). The style makes the book a real page-turner, and the characters were all interesting.

I was engaged throughout, and was desperate to know whodunnit! I didn’t predict the final outcome, but it was sufficiently plausible, and overall this was an enjoyable, easy to read, murder mystery. 4 stars.

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I listened to this in the car on a long journey, and it really kept me going.

Where do you go when you die? Maybe you go to The Midnight Library, where every possible life is lined up as books on the shelves. If you open a book, you get to live that life, if you are not disappointed by it, you can stay forever, but if you are, you can go back and choose another life.

Nora hasn’t done well in life, as a child and a teenager, she was full of potential, but none of it came to anything, and after a particularly bad day in her thirties she decides it is time to die. She finds herself in The Midnight Library and is excited to try out some of her new lives.

This book has an interesting idea at its heart: how do each of our decisions change where we end up, and if we could change any one of those decisions, would we be happier? I did, however, work out quite quickly what the final conclusion would be, but that didn’t stop me enjoying the story, however, I feel this is probably a book to read in as few sittings as possible so it doesn’t lose momentum.

Audible note: Carey Mulligan has a gorgeous soft voice. I got annoyed that she didn’t pronounce ‘Marcello’ consistently, she called tacos ‘tar-coes’ and read Caius College phonetically, rather than as ‘Keys College’. 4 stars.

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The Power by Naomi Alderman

The paperback version of this book has been sat on my bedside table for ages, but I didn't get more than a couple of chapters in as the font is tiny! I picked this up on Audible for a long car journey, and got on much better with it.

The idea behind this book is simple: one day women around the world wake up with the ability to create electricty within their bodies and harness this power to their advantage. Men suddenly become  second-class citizens. The book is written as a historical document, telling the story of the origins of The Cataclysm, interspersed with the labels on museum exhibits.

The book is a clear critique of modern society, and was a brilliant listen, even if the histrical document format was a little odd, and I don't think added anything to the story. 4.5 stars.

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Blanket the books are resting on is Fluffy White Clouds by me, available on Ravelry** and LoveCrafts.

*Book supplied for review purposes via NET Galley. All opinions are my own.

**Ravelry may cause issues for people with photosensitivity. Proceed with caution.