Saturday, 31 December 2016

The best of 2016

2016 is drawing to a close, so now seemed like a good time to think about the good things that have happened in 2016.

Instagram best nine

I thought I'd start with the main place I share knitting pictures: Instagram. I've really gotten into using Instagram this year, mostly for sharing knitting photos, with the odd bit about my life in there too; it makes a very speedy alternative to writing a blog post. Here's my best nine photos, based on number of likes, if you want to make your own, head here.


Top row: Top left are my Lynda socks, my first ever sock design (currently exclusive to Knit Now magazine), and named after my friend Lynda, who encouraged me to knit socks. I have a lot to thank her for! Top middle features my little jar of advent yarns; the jar got full rather quickly - this photo was taken halfway through December and the remaining balls of yarn are stashed in a bag of bags. And no, I still haven't decided what I'm doing with the Paintbox yarns minis... Top right is my daughter's Rudi jumper, knitted in a couple of days at the end of November and finished just in time for our visit to Santa. The jumper has been worn throughout December, and while it might not get that more wear this winter, I think it'll still fit next year.

Middle row: Middle left: I knitted these socks over the summer as part of the Summer Socks KAL hosted on Ravelry* and Instagram. The socks are knitted from West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply (my favourite sock yarn), using their Rum Paradise self striping yarn for the toes, heels and cuffs, and Bubblegum for the rest of the sock. I'd not seen socks knitted like this before, and was delighted with how they turned out; I used Susan B. Anderson's Smooth Operator pattern, but any afterthought heel pattern would work if you fancy making your own. In the centre you can see the sock I knitted in the 24 hours between Christmas Day evening and Boxing Day evening. Whizzy knitting is just what I needed! Sock is knitted in Regia Pairfect. Middle right: some may argue this photo is excessively knitty - hat knitting, and an easy read featuring a lot of knitting (utterly implausible, and rather cheesy, but I did enjoy it; it's available here if you fancy reading it for yourself) - but not me. I managed to read the book while knitting the hat (admittedly by breaking the spine, which I hate doing, but sometimes needs must), which made for a nice relaxing period of Christmas present knitting.

Bottom row: The bottom left shows a pile of my son's outgrown handknits, knitted by me and my mum. This picture fills me with joy and a tinge of sadness. I am hoping that my daughter will wear some of them, but what do I do with the precious outgrown knits once we're done with them? Bottom middle features those socks again. Turns out everyone else liked them too! And finally, on the bottom right, you can see my grey and purple striped socks that I knitted from yarn I purchased at this year's Yarndale. I had meant to walk all the way round the show before making any purchases, but couldn't resist this yarn that I saw for sale on the Rosie's Moments stall, which was one of the first stalls I saw. I really enjoyed knitting the yarn up, and the socks are getting a lot of wear, so it was definitely the right decision.

If you fancy following me on Instagram, my using name is vikkibirddesigns.

Favourite new pattern(s)

I did try, but I couldn't choose just one.

Busy buzzy bumble bee was designed for a friend's second son. Bright colours, a busy bee, chunky yarn for a quick project. This ticks all my design boxes!


Harvet's Bounty wasn't technically designed this year - I wrote it slightly sleep-addeled with a 4 month old a couple of years ago, but I love everything about it, and am glad to have finally sent it out into the world.


Waddle was published in Knit Now magazine towards the end of the year, and turned out exactly how I envisaged. The model is also totally adorable!

Image copyright Practical Publishing

Yarn festivals

I was lucky enough to visit both Edinburgh Yarn Festival and Yarndale this year, and can't choose between the two. Edinburgh, in March, was a lovely day trip from Durham with Durham knitting friends (and the lovely Louleigh); the festival is small, and features yarn at the higher end, with a lot of beautiful hand-dyed and rare-breeds yarn. There was also plenty of space to sit and chat and knit, and a whole host of social activities to attend if you're staying for the whole weekend. I had a lovely, if exhausting, day petting yarn and chatting, and would definitely recommend the festival.

I visited Yarndale in September with my friend Amy. The festival is much larger than Edinburgh, with a much wider range of stalls and products available. I enjoyed the vibrancy of the show, and its general hustle and bustle, but it was a lot harder to find somewhere to sit down when you needed a rest, just because of the sheer number of people, and often harder to get close to the really popular stalls. I've been for the past two years, and, while I enjoyed it, I'm not sure I'll go again next year.

I resisted this unicorn head by Sincerely Louise at Yarndale. I still have no idea how.

Sometimes I'm not knitting

In the summer I finally submitted my PhD thesis (on Polymer Physics) after working on it for seven years, which was a major achievement. I passed my viva in July and submitted the final version in November. Life post-PhD has taken some adjusting to, and I'm still working out what I want to do long term, but at the minute I'm very pleased to have completed it, and am looking forward to graduating in January.

What about you?

What have been your favourite things of 2016? And what are you looking forward to in 2017? Thanks for reading.

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