Friday, 15 December 2017

New design: Fantastical Fox hat and mitts

Today it is my great pleasure to introduce to you not one, but two new patterns: the Fantastical Fox hat and mitts.* Foxes have been one of my favourite animals ever since reading Fantastic Mr Fox as a child. My Fantastical Fox set is a homage to the humble fox.


The mitts are fingerless with a flip top to keep your fingers warm whilst keeping them accessible for when you need them. The pattern includes instructions for both short and full thumbs.  The mitts are knitted in the round starting with the top flap, which is then joined in as the main mitt is knitted.  A waste yarn thumb gusset is used, and the mitts themselves are completely seam free as they start with Judy’s magic cast on, which means you don’t have to go back at the end to join the top of the flap.  The flap can be buttoned down using either a short crocheted chain or i-cord loop buttonhole; instructions are provided for both options. The eyes and noses are added at the end using buttons.


The hat is knitted in the round from the bottom up, with the fox’s face knitted using intarsia in the round, then the nose is added by picking up stitches and knitting a shaped piece that is stitched down. The ears are knitted separately, then stitched in place, and the eyes and nose tip are added using black buttons.


From now until 11.59pm GMT Sunday 24th December 2017 you can get either of the patterns in the set (or the ebook, which includes both patterns, and is cheaper than buying the two patterns separately) with an introductory discount of 15%. No code is needed and the discount will be appiled automatically when the patterns are added to the basket.

Both items are knitted in a DK-weight yarn at slightly tighter tension than usual to make the items hard wearing. The samples are knitted using Debbie Bliss Rialto DK** (DK weight, 105 m \[114 yds] per 50 g ball, 100% merino wool) in Burnt Orange (043, MC) and Ecru (002, CC), in size M.

The mitts are available in four sizes: S (M, L, XL) to fit palm width 8.5 cm [3.25 in], 9 cm [3.5 in], 9.5 cm [3.75 in], 10 cm [4 in], while the hat is available in three sizes: S (M, L): 45 (50, 55) cm [18 (20, 22) in], which should give you plenty of sizing options!

I'd rate both these patterns as intermediate knits. Intarsia in the round isn't tricky, but can be a little be fiddly. Take it slowly and you'll be fine!

As ever, I would love to see your finished knits, so why not add a project on Ravelry (hat; mitts)***, tag me on Instagram (@vikkibirddesigns), or send me a message (use the contact me link)?

And remember, as this is a paid-for pattern, if you knit either pattern before the end of the year you can join in with the Indie Design Gift-A-Long and be in with a chance of winning a prize.***

*The eagle-eyed amoung you may notice that these patterns were originaly published in Knit Now magazine issue 39, but they are now available as pdf downlaods from my Ravelry store.

**Affiliate link.

***You'll need to be a member of Ravelry to do this. Membership is free.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

New design: Unicorn cushion

Unicorns have been everywhere for the past few years, and I have finally embraced the trend with my latest design, a unicorn cushion.

rainbow unicorn cushion

The cushion features a rainbow striped unicorn head on a neutral background. The rainbow stripes are created using a single ball of self-striping yarn (West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley Aran*), which results in a striking effect for little effort. To maintain the stripes throughout the design, the yarn is stranded across the central blank areas. If you'd prefer a non-rainbow striped unicorn, simply chose one of the non-striping shades of the yarn.

The cushion cover is knitted in one piece, seamed at the edges and fastened with 6 buttons. I had a little fun with the buttons and used rainbow shades to match the rainbow stripes!


Want to knit your own? The design is included in the latest edition (issue 4) of Essential Knits, which is available now in newsagents and supermarkets, or you can order a copy online.

It even made the cover!

As ever, I would love to see your finished knits, so why not add a project on Ravelry**, tag me on Instagram (@vikkibirddesigns), or send me a message (use the contact me link)?


*Sometimes called West Yorkshire Spinners Essential Aran. Affiliate link. You'll need three balls for the background colour and one for the unicorn.

**You need to be a member of Ravelry to add a project.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Yarning Along: Scrappy socks and slow shawls

So, last weekend's sleet and cold became SNOW! I always get a little excited about snow, but only when I don't have to go out in it. Unfortunately, as the snow fell during the week, I did still have to chauffeur the kids about and get on with all the usual activities. The kids loved it though. It was daughter's first time seeing it, and she was in her element. It's warmed up again now, but I think we're all hoping for a bit of snow later in the month...

This weekend we started our Christmas activities with our visit to Santa. Both the kids were really excited, and it was lovely and festive. I'm not totally sure we're going to manage to keep the festive feeling carrying on for the whole of December, but I am aiming to spread our festive activities out over the month so we don't all get burnt out. This week I'm taking my daughter to the under-5s show at our local theatre, and I'm at least as excited about it as she is! And this weekend we're off to Newcastle to see Fenwick's Christmas window (a North East tradition). This year's window is Paddington-themed, so we're going to make a day of it and see the new Paddington film at the same time.

We are now well into Advent, and this year I have an extra special advent calendar. A friend on Instagram organised an Advent swap, so I put together a parcel for someone and they put a parcel together for me. Every morning I get to open a tiny package containing 5 g of sock yarn and some little extras. I had originally planned to add the yarn to my sock yarn blanket, but had a last minute change of plan and cast on some scrappy socks. I am not totally ok with scrappy socks though, so have striped the yarn with a cream to minimise the risk of major clashes. I am up to Day 4 on one sock and Day 3 with the other, and have turned one heel, and so far have beautifully coordinated socks. I am now a little behind (mostly because of the extra knitting required for the heels) and am not keen on the yarns from Days 5 and 6 with what I have already knitted, so I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do next. I suspect I'll make a second pair of socks and everything else will end up in the sock yarn blanket. Do you have a yarn advent calendar? What are you doing with your yarn?


My other major work in progress is my Red Katana shawl and it is SO SLOW! I have no idea why. The pattern is pretty straight forward, but I have had to write myself a cheat sheet and cross off each row as I work it (having pulled the whole thing out twice already). I think I am starting to get a little faster, but I don't see myself finishing any time soon! I'm knitting my Red Katana shawl as part of the Indie Design Gift-A-Long, a knit and crochet along that is running on Ravelry until the end of the year. For more details and to take part, head to the Ravelry group.*


Last week I asked if anyone had any recommendations for Christmas books. Well, on Friday I went to Waterstones and browsed their festive reads table and came home with The Christmasaurus. Yes it's a children's book, but I am a third of the way through and am enjoying every second. So much so that my son and I are reading it together too. A definite Christmas book recommendation!


As ever, linking up with Rachel for Yarning Along.

*Ravelry link. You need to be logged into Ravelry for this link to work.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Yarning Along: Best get the fire on

Hello! How have you been? With all my Gift-A-Long posts, I missed Yarning Along last week, and I missed not writing it. Today it is freezing, so I'm trying my hardest to get away with being snuggled up indoors away from the sleet.

The past week has been *so* busy. I spent 36 hours in London at the end of last week for an event with Love Crafts (which deserves its own post at a later date), and managed to sneak in a trip to the Tower of London, which has been on my to do list for a very long time. I loved it and was so glad it occured to me to go. I joined one of the Yeoman (beefeater) tours, which was very informative and entertaining. I learnt lots of facts to pass on to my Tudor-obsessed six year old, and found my dream home (the old hospital building). I felt a bit like a kid in a sweet shop as there were so many amazing things to look at.


Of course I got a lot of knitting done on the train (especially as the first train was running an hour behind schedule), and my Christmas socks are finally looking like they might be done in time for Christmas (but not the end of November, which was the original plan). The other project I am trying my hardest to get finished is the Christmas stocking I'm knitting for a friend's daughter. The outside is, as of last night, done, but I need to knit a lining as well, which is less interesting, but perfect for knitting while watching TV.




I am still reading Into The Water, mostly from lack of reading time (the lack of daylight at this time of year always makes me sleepy), and am finding it very interesting and well written. I am considering reading something Christmassy over advent. Any recommendations? Otherwise I'll be reading Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate by Susan Calman next as it was a Kindle bargain last week.

This week's elephant in the room is my kid's advent calendars. I bought two kits from Button Box in the January sales, with the intention of making them with the kids in time for advent this year. But I totally misjudged the difficulty level. These are definitely kits for adults to make for their children, unless the kids are over about 10. There is a lot of sewing involved, lots of cutting out fiddly shapes and frankly they're on the tricky side. I'm going to dig out the ones from the cupboard (the Paintbox Yarns calendar from last year has an excellent box, and we have a felt one with pockets from M&S that I had pre-children) and hope they're not too disapppointed. The other option is to sew a pocket a day and by the end of December we'll have an advent calendar. No, I don't see that happening either!

Linking up with Rachel for Yarning Along. What are you crafting on and reading this week?

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Indie Design GAL 2017: Top 10 knits for your neck

One of the key features of the Indie Design GAL* is the knit and crochet along, which is broken up into 8 categories (head, hands, feet, baby, garments, shawls, neck and other).

Over the course of this week, I have been sharing my favourite patterns in each of the categories. So far I've covered hat patterns, knits for hands, socks, knits for babies and shawls. Today, as the sale portion of the GAL is coming to an end, I'm going to have a bumper crop of recommendations: the first was about garments, and this one, the second, will be about knits for your neck.

When I was browsing the GAL patterns, I wasn't conscious that I was looking for anything in particular, but my favourites list did seem to feature an awful lot of cowls! I'm really hoping that I have time to knit one during the GAL, but for now, here are my highlights.

1. Two dropped stitches by Marion Bulin
This is just stunning! I love the idea of knitting knitting.

Image copyright Marion Bulin

2. Celidh infinity scarf by Kelly G.
A beautiful design, perfectly executed.

Image copyright Kelly G.

3. Rain on Notre Dame by Sarah Schira
The styling of this cowl is perfect with the bright rainbow umbrella contrasting against the grey of the yarn.

Image copyright Sarah Schira

4. Charadriiformes by Sara Huntingdon Burch
I love everything about this: the motifs, the colours. Definitely one I want to knit.

Image copyright Sara Burch

5. Pravigan by Robynn Weldon
One for the brave: brioche in lace weight mohair. This was Robynn's first ever brioche project and includes a step-by-step guide for beginners.

Image copyright Robynn Weldon

6. Elephant cowl by Jenise Hope
Simply beautiful.

Image copyright Jenise Hope

7. Defrost by Sara Gresbach
I love the simplicity of this design.

Image copyright Sara Gresbach

8. Spotted cowl by Nicole Montgomery
This cowl is so much fun. It would be a great use of a yarn advent calendar too.

Image copyright Nicole Montgomery

9. Ascleit cowl by Emily K. Williams
This design is perfect for toning down a bright variegated yarn.

Image copyright Emily K. Williams

10. Color infusion by Meredith Shepherd
Everything Meredith Shepherd designs is beautiful, and this is no exception.

Image copyright Emily K. Williams

All the patterns featured in the post are included in the Indie GAL sale: use the code giftalong2017 to get 25% off. Code expires 11.59pm EST Tuesday 28th November 2017.** That's tonight! If you've missed the sale portion, have no fear, the knit and crochet-along portion of the KAL is continuing until the end of the year,* so you have plenty of time to join in (and remember that you can use any paid-for pattern by a participating designer - you could always have a look in your Ravelry library to see if you already own any patterns by a participating designer).

I've put together a bundle of my favourite GAL sale patterns. If you'd like to take a look, you can find it here.

Are you joining in the GAL? What are you planning on knitting?


*Ravelry link. You need to be logged into Ravelry for the link to work.



**I'm also taking part in the GAL as a designer. Why not take a look at my designs too?

Indie Design GAL 2017: Top 10 garments

One of the key features of the Indie Design GAL* is the knit and crochet along, which is broken up into 8 categories (head, hands, feet, baby, garments, shawls, neck and other).

Over the course of this week, I have been sharing my favourite patterns in each of the categories. So far I've covered hat patterns, knits for hands, socks, knits for babies and shawls. Today, as the sale portion of the GAL is coming to an end, I'm going to have a bumper crop of recommendations: the first is about garments, and the second will be about knits for your neck.

 1. Clarke Pullover by Jane Richmond
Perfectly casual, I think this might just be the perfect jumper.

Image copyright Jane Richmond

2. Frosted by Lisa K. Ross
The colourwork on this jumper is absolutely beautiful.

Image copyright Lisa K. Ross
3. Tucker Sweater by Amanda Scheuzger
I can't even begin to work out how these cables are created. An excellent focal point for the jumper.

Image copyright Amanda Scheuzger

4. Greystone by Sarah Cooke
I am always on the look out for the perfect cardigan and this ticks a lot of boxes - and it has pockets!

Image copyright Sarah Cooke

5. Celista by Megan Nodecker
I adore this. Bold and graphic and unusual.

Image copyright pipandpin2017

6. Summer Festival by Georgie Nicolson
Another fantastic cardigan, especially in this bright yellow.

Image copyright tikki

7. Soulful Sweater by Anna Johanna
Such beautiful lace detailing on the yoke.

Image copyright Anna Johanna

8. Strawberry jam by Victoria Groger
One for the kids (sized 2-12), I think the cables on the front of this jumper would be great fun to knit.

Image copyright Victoria Groger

9. Anemone by Svetlana Volkova
The anemone pattern on the front of this sweater is very striking.

Image copyright tweedysheep

10. Snow is Falling by Melissa Kemmerer
Because I am a sucker for a winter-themed pattern, and this one comes in an excellent range of sizes (30-55 in chest).

Image copyright Melissa Kemmerer

All the patterns featured in the post are included in the Indie GAL sale: use the code giftalong2017 to get 25% off. Code expires 11.59pm EST Tuesday 28th November 2017. That's tonight! If you've missed the sale portion, have no fear, the knit and crochet-along portion of the KAL is continuing until the end of the year,* so you have plenty of time to join in (and remember that you can use any paid-for pattern by a participating designer - you could always have a look in your Ravelry library to see if you already own any patterns by a participating designer).

I've put together a bundle of my favourite GAL sale patterns. If you'd like to take a look, you can find it here.

Are you joining in the GAL? What are you planning on knitting?

*Ravelry link. You need to be logged into Ravelry for the link to work.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Indie Design GAL 2017: Top 10 shawls

One of the key features of the Indie Design GAL* is the knit and crochet along, which is broken up into 8 categories (head, hands, feet, baby, garments, shawls, neck and other).

Over the course of this week, I'm going to share my favourite patterns in each of the categories. So far I've covered hat patterns, knits for hands, socks and knits for babies. Today I'm highlighting some of my favourite shawl designs.

I really struggled to choose between all the shawls, there were so many beautiful ones. Here are 10 of my favourites, though you will notice a common theme of stripes!

1. Red Katana by Svetlana Volkova
I like this one so much I have cast one on for the KAL portion of the GAL.

Image copyright Svetlana Volkova


2. Mini Mazy by Rachel Henry
This shawl would be perfect for using up mini skeins.

Image copyright Rachel Henry

3. Sizzle Pop by Lesley Anne Robinson
Maybe it's finally time for me to have a go at brioche!

Image copyright Lesley Anne Robinson

4. Summer Walk by Susanne Sommer


Image copyright Susanne Sommer
5. Honey Trail by Bekah Knits

Image copyright Bekah Knits

6. Artemis Shawl by Madeleine Windsor
Another shawl that's perfect for using up leftovers from other projects.

Image copyright Madeleine Windsor

7. Making Advances by Jennifer Dassau

Image copyright Jennifer Dassau

8. Summa Stripes Shawl by Meiju K-P

Image copyright Meiju K-P/Tanu Kallio

9. Lambton Panes by Kate Bostwick

Image copyright Kate Bostwick

10. Shipshape Shawl and Shawlette by Danielle Chalson
I am fascinated by how this one is constructed.

Image copyright makewise

All the patterns featured in the post are included in the Indie GAL sale: use the code giftalong2017 to get 25% off. Code expires 11.59pm EST Tuesday 28th November 2017.

I've put together a bundle of my favourite GAL sale patterns. If you'd like to take a look, you can find it here.

Are you joining in the GAL? What are you planning on knitting?

*Ravelry link. You need to be logged into Ravelry for the link to work.