Tuesday, 17 July 2018

New design: Rainbow Unicorn cushion

One of the things I've been really keen to do this year is to republish some of my most popular magazine patterns, and the one I'm releasing today was absolutely at the top of my list: the Rainbow Unicorn cushion.*

Unicorns have been everywhere for the past couple of years, and this is my cheerful take on the trend. The cushion, featuring the silhouette of a unicorn's head, is knitted in a bright rainbow palette of self-striping yarn. The unicorn motif is added using a combination of intarsia and stranded colourwork in order to maintain the stripe pattern across the whole unicorn head. If you can't get hold of any rainbow striped yarn, of course you could work the unicorn head in a single colour, or devise your own stripe sequence and use several balls of yarn.

The pattern also works in a single colour

The cushion is 43 cm (17.25 in) square, designed to fit an 46 cm (18 in) square cushion pad with 3 cm negative ease. The cushion is knitted in one piece and fastened with six 18mm (0.75 in) buttons across the back on a ribbed button band. Half the back is knitted, then the front, then the second half of the back and the side seams are then stitched. 

Instructions for the intarsia section are provided both as a chart and as written instructions.
The sample was knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley Aran, which has unfortunately been discontinued (there is still some available from Love Knitting* if you're quick, but not in the rainbow colourway). There are quite a few self-striping yarns on the market at the minute that would also work: Caron Cakes** (which is lovely to work with), Lion Brand Lanscapes** (which comes in amazing saturated colourways), Bernat Pop** (again, lots of nice bright colourways), and Knit Picks Chroma (the Pegasus colourway would be beautiful).

Fancy picking up a copy of the pattern right away? You can find it here. From now until 11.59pm BST Thursday 26th July 2018, the pattern has 25% off, no code needed.

*This pattern was first published in Issue 4 of Essential Knits.
**Affiliate links.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Yarnometer: June 2018

We're halfway through the year already! And there might have been quite a lot of yarn coming in and out of my stash...

Projects finished

A hat and mitt set for a magazine
I am really excited to share these with you in the near future, but unfortunately they're top secret at the minute.

An adult-sized jumper
And I'm even more excited about this one. Keep your eyes peeled for something appearing around Christmas...

Hats for twins
I got to meet my shiny new twin nieces in June and they are tiny. So tiny in fact that my sister requested smaller hats for them. I made this cute little pair, which might have gone to live on their teddies!

Socks for a friend
The Marathon sock KAL is still going in my Ravelry group, and this is this month's contribution. I finished the first sock in four days, the second took three and a half weeks (at least in part because I managed to burn my finger, which took a few weeks to heal).

The ins and outs of yarn

Yarn in
  • 150g of yarn for the baby hats
  • 300g of sock yarn from Love Knitting, at least 200g of that is for pattern samples, the other one is one I could not resist!
  • 1300g of yarn for a festive commission
  • 100g of self-striping sock yarn a friend was destashing
  • 200g of sock yarn from a visit to Ringarosie
  • 200g of beautiful sock yarn that came in a Peacock-themed box from Unbelievawool
Self-striping goodness
Peacock yarn from Unbelievawool
Assorted sock yarns. I couldn't say no to the stripey one!

Yarn out
  • 129g for a hat
  • 54g for a pair of mitts
  • 403g for an adult-sized jumper
  • 26g for the hats for the twins
  • 56g for the socks

Yarn in: 2250g
Yarn out or used: 2350g
Total: –100g - yes, that's right, more yarn left the house than arrived!

Year to date (halfway through the year!)
Yarn in: 18667g
Yarn out: 6643g
Yarn used: 4384g
Total: 7640g

A much better month in terms of yarn leaving rather than entering the house. I'm hoping to have lots of FOs to show off in next month's Yarnometer, but they'll all be tiny as it's been way too hot so far in July and the concept of knitting anything heavier than socks is a bit alien... I have quite a lot of work to do if I want to get to zero by the end of the year (hint, it's not happening!).

Friday, 13 July 2018

FO Friday: Beatrice baby blanket

Last week some of my close friends had a new baby, which means I can finally properly share the baby blanket I made for them.

As soon as I found out my friends were having a baby, I knew exactly the type of thing I wanted to make for their new arrival - a crochet baby blanket that was airy enough for the summer, but snuggly enough for the autumn too, and in rainbow colours. My friends are not knitters, so I decided to make the blanket from an easy-care yarn, going for Stylecraft Special DK as it comes in lots of bright, bold colours, there are plenty of options for rainbows, and it withstands everything a small child is likely to throw at it really well.

To decide what colours to go for, I did a lot of browsing on Ravelry to see what other people had already done. There were many, many beautiful colourways that stood out, some girly, some very masculine, and some happily in the middle. I eventually found a favourite, then tweaked a couple of the colours for ones that I preferred, and ordered my yarn.

Choosing the pattern was easy: I made a Beatrice by Little Doolally for a different friend's wedding a few years ago and loved making it, so knew that I wanted to do that again. The pattern is lovely to work from, and grows quite quickly. The only slight drawback is that its open nature means it's hard to work over the ends as you go, and you end up having to darn in lots of ends at the end.

The finished blanket is beautiful, and has been well received. Even better there are enough rainbow  leftovers to make a blanket for another friend who is currently expecting a baby - I'm thinking of a Bertie Baby Blanket (also by Little Doolally) using Silver as the neutral colour.

What's your favourite baby blanket pattern?


Pattern: Beatrice Baby Blanket by Little Dolally
Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK* in Cream, Lipstick, Spice, Saffron, Lime, Aster, Violet and Emperor
Ravelry project page

*Affiliate link.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

New design: Soft Sky Baby Cardigan

Another week, another new design! This one is slightly autumnal in feel, which seems a little surreal bearing in mind the crazy warm temperatures we've been experiencing in the past few weeks!

I love preppy-style clothing on small children, and cardigans make a perfect additional layer during the transitional period from summer to autumn (cast it on now to be ready for autumn!). The Soft Sky Baby Cardigan* is a gorgeous little cabled cardigan that features classic raglan shaping combined with intricate cabled panels that run down the two fronts of the garment. The cardigan is knitted from the bottom up, with the sleeves and body joined at the base of the yoke.

The Soft Sky Baby Cardigan is designed in five sizes (to fit ages 3 months to 2 years, with finished chest sizes of 19 to 23.5 inches).

The sample is knitted in Sublime Yarns Extra Fine Merino Wool DK* (100% Extra Fine Merino; 127 yards [116 meters]/50 grams), which is, as the name suggests, a pretty luxurious option; it's wonderfully soft and has beautiful stitch definition. It also comes in a lovely array of colours, both bold and subtle, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a shade you like.

If you'd like to knit the Soft Sky Baby Cardigan, you can find the pattern in the August 2018 issue of I Like Knitting magazine.* I Like Knitting magazine is a digital magazine that can be purchased via subscription. More information can be found here.

Want to favourite or queue the pattern on Ravelry? The Ravelry listing can be found here.

*Affiliate link.

All images are copyright I Like Knitting.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

New designs: Peter Rabbit jumper and Bobby socks

For anyone who was starting to think that my publication schedule was slowing down, have no fear, over the next few weeks there will be new designs coming along much like buses!

First I have two designs in the latest issue (issue 90) of Knit Now magazine: a children's jumper and a pair of socks.

The jumper design is a pretty special one as it features Peter Rabbit! Published as a Peter Rabbit movie tie-in, this jumper is written for five sizes to fit ages 2–10 years, and features the rather cheeky-looking rabbit surrounded by beautiful embroidered flowers. You can make the embroidery as simple or as complicated as you wish; don't worry about using the exact colours or shapes used in the sample, work freehand and see what you come up with!

The jumper is knitted in King Cole Merino Blend DK,* an excellent value hard-wearing superwash wool yarn that comes in a variety of pastel and bright shades. I've used this yarn a few times now, and really love the slightly woolly texture of it.

The Peter Rabbit jumper is knitted flat in pieces and seamed at the end. The neckband is knitted on using a circular needle once the shoulder seams have been joined.

The second pattern I have in this issue of Knit Now is for my Bobby socks. I love to wear hand-knitted socks all year round, but I tend to put solid socks away in the summer months as they can be too warm. These lace socks allow your feet to air so they're nice and cool, but as autumn approaches they can be worn with boots, and they have a lace frill detail that would be really cute peeping out over the top of the boots.

These socks are knitted from the top down, starting with the lace frill detail, then the twisted rib cuff (which is inverted half way through with a non-ribbed row so that it sits flat). The sock is knitted with a slipped stitch heel and gusset construction, and the toe is designed such that you don't have to work any Kitchener stitch at the end – this type of toe is quickly becoming my go-to!

The pattern is written for four sizes, and the foot length is fully adjustable, so you can make perfectly-fitting socks. The sample socks are knitted in Stylecraft Head Over Heels* in the colourway Olympus; the colours make me think of summer sunsets, and the yarn composition (75% wool and 25% nylon) means these socks should stand up well to being washed and worn over and over again.

As an extra bonus, as well as many other gorgeous baby knits, the King Cole supplement also features a reprint of my Hedgehog and Hoglets blanket!

Image copyright Vikki Bird
If you fancy knitting any of these patterns, you'll need to get your hands on a copy of issue 90 of Knit Now magazine. The magazine goes on sale in the U.K. today (June 28th 2018), or can be ordered online from the MoreMags website. You can also purchase the issue digitally. Once again, Kate and the team have put together a beautiful issue, so it's definitely worth a look.

*Affiliate link.

All images are copyright Practical Publishing unless otherwsie stated, and are reproduced with permission.

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!).


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
  • 1800g went to new homes via eBay
  • 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

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!