Saturday, 22 April 2017

Easter holiday slowdown

My kids have been off school and nursery for the past couple of weeks for the Easter holidays, and while it's been lovely having them around, going for days out and generally spending time in each other's company, I think we're all getting to the stage where we're excited for the return to routine. While the kids are off I don't generally get much time for knitting paperwork, but I do still get knitting done -  before the end of term I purposefully got three patterns to the stage where all I had to do was knit them so I had something I could work on easily and nothing would stagnate. As a result, this week I have been working almost exclusively on the sleeves of small children's jumpers (stocking stitch is as much as I can manage while supervising children!), and now I fancy a bit more variety!

Needles vs. days out. The needles lost

So next week I will be clearing the toys from my desk and spending a few solid hours moving things along, doing some pattern layout, getting a pattern to my tech editor, charting some lace and some intarsia and generally getting back into the swing of things. Long may the enthusiasm continue!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Socks in five days!

After I posted on Saturday, the bank holiday weekend continued to be a bit damp. We did manage to get out at least once (to a chick hunt at the botanical garden; we walked round the whole ten hectare site, even though it rained throughout - it turns out hunting chicks is very motivational!), but otherwise entertained ourselves at home. We also ate our way through plenty of Easter eggs and had fun having an Easter egg hunt in the garden.

While I had plenty of time for knitting, I didn't quite get my socks finished by the end of the weekend (I did try to do some dressmaking too, which used up more time than I had anticipated; it always does). I finally cast them off yesterday evening, with just two tiny scraps of yarn to spare. They're a tiny bit shorter than I would usually make socks, but by under an inch and I am really pleased with them. I might even make concurrent socks again as I liked casting them off back to back. The yarn was from Cuddlebums and is really soft. Everything about these socks is a delight!

Another thing I was excited about this weekend is Bank Holiday TV. Doctor Who returned on Saturday evening, and while I haven't enjoyed the past couple of series (I didn't feel any chemistry between Clara Oswald and Peter Capaldi's Doctor) I was excited for a new series with a new assistant. And I loved it. It started with a charm that had been missing for a while, and the 'monster' genuinely had me scared (as ever with Doctor Who, it is always the monsters based on innocuous things (this time it was water) that give me shivers; the Weeping Angels are my all-time favourite). I like the new assistant, and she and the Doctor seem to gel well, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

I am a huge fan of the rebooted Robot Wars, having said that I didn't want to watch it when it stated last year (I didn't watch it as a child), then falling in love with it. The teams are so passionate about their robots and about the competition, as well as being an excellent starting point for discussions about engineering with our five year old. I had thought the final would be aired last week, but apparently the golf was more important, but the Robot Wars final did make excellent viewing while we are our Easter Sunday roast dinner (and the team I had been supporting from the start of last series won, hooray!).

The other thing I am really enjoying on TV at the minute is Top Gear. After the last, disastrous series with Chris Evans (which I gave up watching after a couple of episodes), I was a little trepidatious about the new series, but I've found it very entertaining. The new mix of presenters is friendly and fun, and the guests have been amazing (David Tennant, James McAvoy and Tamsin Greig have been highlights, especially the banter between Tamsin and Matt Le Blanc, who worked together on Episodes, which is another favourite of mine). All in all, excellent bank holiday TV!

Hope you had an excellent Easter weekend and that the return to work wasn't too much of a shock to the system.


There's still time to purchase my Knit Night Collection of toe up socks with 10% discount using the code KNITNIGHT and the KAL is in full swing over in my Ravelry group. It would be lovely if you could join us.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The joys of a bank holiday weekend

In the U.K. Good Friday and Easter Monday are classed as bank holidays, which means many people get a four day weekend. Most of the time I give myself Sundays off from knitting work, but I decided that this weekend I would take the whole four days off, and I am having a lovely time doing things with my family. But for me, time off never means no knitting, and this weekend I am knitting away on a Cuddlebums sock set that was sold as an Easter Sock KAL. The set contains 50g of variegated yarn and a 20g mini skeins for the heels and toes, as well as a few little extra goodies (a chocolate bunny and some stitch markers).

I have large feet and know that 70g is going to be pushing it, so this is my first pair of socks to be knitted concurrently (two sets of needles, one sock on each set). I wound the ball into two centre pull balls, and am knitting one sock from the outside and the other from the inside. I have got into a bit of a tangle a couple of times, but am enjoying it, and the colours are amazing! How far do you think I'll manage to get by the end of Monday? I'm really hoping I can get the whole lot done...

I'm not just knitting this weekend. Yesterday was spent at soft play (along with the rest of Durham - it was a bit cold and miserable!), along with some hot cross bun baking (with chocolate chips to appease the five year old), and I managed to finish off a couple of project bags that have been on the to do list for ages! We're just back from the supermarket to buy food for tomorrow (all but the smallest shops are shut on Easter Sunday), and the eggs for the egg hunt (I almost left that too late - we have the only eggs Sainsbury's had that would be easy to hide; a foot tall Lindt egg would be a little conspicuous, and less than ideal as I had promised we could each find 3-4 eggs). I'm hoping the weather tomorrow is better so we can get out and about.

Hot cross buns!
Project bags

Egg hunt eggs 

What's everyone else up to this bank holiday weekend?

Thursday, 13 April 2017

New designs: Knit Night Collection

Today I am very, very excited to launch my first ever collection of sock patterns: the Knit Night Collection.

The Knit Night Collection features three different sock designs, and each of the patterns has been named after a special knitty friend.


Each of the socks is knitted from the toe up using a gusset and heel flap construction, shaped with short rows. The socks have a pattern on the instep and around the leg, while the sole is knitted in stocking stitch. The gusset length is affected by your row/round gauge, so a small amount of optional maths is included to achieve the perfect fit (the maths is completely optional; I know some people really don't like maths!).
All the socks in the collection come in three sizes (finished sock circumferences, 17.5 (20, 22.5) cm [7 (8, 9) in]), with the different sizes being created by scaling the pattern, so larger socks have larger motifs. The patterns in the collection are written to be needle-neutral and can be knitted on any of DPNs, short circulars or long circulars using the magic loop technique.


All the socks shown are knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Siganture 4ply**, which is my favourite sock yarn. The yarn is 75% wool and 25% nylon, but any sock yarn can be used. I would recommend using a solid or semi-solid to really let the pattern shine.

If you want to get hold of the collection, head to my Ravelry store. The patterns are available individually for £3.50 each, or you can buy the ebook containing all three patterns for £7. If you buy them before 11.59pm BST, April 30th 2017, you can get 10% off with the code KNITNIGHT

I am hosting a knitalong for the collection in my Ravelry group.* The KAL will run from now until the end of May, I would love it if you could join in (and there are prizes to be won!). Head over to my Ravelry group* for more information.

One of the pairs of socks in this collection may look familiar: the Lynda socks were first included in Knit Now Issue 66.

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

**This is an affiliate link. See my Disclaimers and policies page for more information.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

World Craft Week 2017: Knitting

Over the course of the week, for World Craft Week, I have been exploring the various crafts I have done over the years, from cross stitch to sewing to crochet, and today we get on to my favourite: knitting.

I have been knitting for a very long time! I clearly remember knitting during my break times when I was 7, with my best friend at the time who had learnt to knit around the same time. But knitting did not click immediately with me.

My mum (who is an excellent knitter) first tried teaching me to knit when I was about 5, and, while I was interested, I did not get the hang of it at all. My attempts did result in a small (think tiny, like child's purse size) stripy bag made up of all sorts of oddments, which I loved, but I didn't enjoy the knitting enough to continue with it.

When I was 7 a babysitter (an old lady who lived round the corner from us; she was probably only in her fifties, but she seemed old when I was 7) offered to teach me, and sat me on her knee, using her hands to control my arms and direct my fingers. This time it clicked, but my technique was far from perfect. I clearly remember the babysitter casting on 15 sts for me in pale turquoise yarn, and within 50 rows of garter stitch all my odd yarnovers had resulted in well over 100 stitches! But I enjoyed it! With the confidence of a small child, my knitting knew no bounds. My first 'proper' knitted piece was a Baby Sunshine doll from the Jean Greenhowe scarecrow collection. The doll had many loose stitches, and the whole thing was knitted very loosely, but I loved her, and the sense of achievement in finishing her.

With time and practise my knitting improved vastly, and by the time I was 11 or 12 I was knitting intarsia jumpers for my little sister (there's a photo of her wearing a Little Miss Giggles one at my parents house). I knitted theraputically, and whenever I was ill it would give my hands something to do; I worked my way through books of Jean Greenhow patterns. Unfortunately all these early items are now long gone, but they live on in my memories of them.

I have knitted on and off ever since I learnt, and started to get really serious about knitting when I was pregnant with my son, and a lot of my friends were pregnant with their first children as well. I knitted several beautiful shawls as newborn gifts, my favourite being this one in red DK acrylic. No, this is not what I would choose to use now, but I loved the process of knitting it, and the final blanket was beautiful.

With every item I knitted I learnt something new, and would happily improvise when something wasn't to my taste. When my son was 18 months old I wanted to knit him a Christmas pudding hat and couldn't find a pattern with 3D sauce, so made up my own and decided to make a leap into the unknown and publish it. That was, as you know, the first of many.

My first design, the Christmas pudding hat
And a more recent design, Busy Buzzy Bumble Bee (one of my favourites!)

How did you get into knitting? What's the knitted item you're most proud of?

Friday, 7 April 2017

World Craft Week 2017: Crochet

This week is World Craft Week, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to tell you about some of my non-knitting crafting adventures. So far I have written about cross stitch and sewing, today is the turn of crochet.

I had been interested in crochet for many years before I actually got round to doing any. As a child I had been played with yarn a lot, seeing what I could do with yarn using just my fingers, mostly plaiting, twisted cords and knotting, but also creating what I now realise were long crochet chains. The only trouble was that I didn't know anyone who could teach me.

Fast forward to my final year at university, when I was working in industry and finally had enough disposable income that I could afford to buy my own craft materials. That Christmas I asked for a beginners book on crocheting (Start Crochet by Jan Eaton) and sat down over the holidays and taught myself. I've never been one to start with something simple, and after crocheting a ripple scarf I decided that I would crochet a double bed sized blanket for some friends as a wedding present.

And so I made my first project, a join as you go granny hexagon blanket in all the colours! The house I lived in that year was very close a branch of Boyes (a shop that sells everything, and each branch has its own haberdashery department) so I picked up another ball of yarn whenever I fancied. The blanket went down well with my friends and I have since made several more crocheted blankets as wedding presents.

A crocheted wedding blanket

I really like crochet for homewares; crochet grows faster than knitting, and is generally a bit denser, making it really cosy. But I'm not keen on it for garments, so I don't do it that often. I have also used crochet for toys; I love the way that there is only one stitch on the hook at any time, so you can always see the shape you have created, which makes it much easier to improvise a shape than with knitting. Every time I go to a yarn festival and see the TOFT stall I have a little longing to crochet some animals, but the fast-growing nature of crochet means I'd run out of homes pretty quickly! My daughter has recently started requesting unicorns though, so maybe I do have an excuse to make one.

Silly, but I had a lot of fun making this skirt!

My proudest crochet moment: a dragon hat

Can you crochet? What's your favourite thing to make?

Thursday, 6 April 2017

World Craft Week 2017: Sewing

This week, for World Craft Week, I'm having a look at the crafts I have done over the years. Today it's sewing.

When I was little my mum had a sewing machine in one of our main living rooms, housed in its own special work table. The sewing machine collapsed into the table and the workspace folded over to take up less space when it wasn't being used. I assumed this was normal and am very disappointed that my living arrangements do not have enough space for such a thing - my sewing machine is kept in a sewing machine bag in a corner of the living room and if I want to sew I have to clear the dining table, and as a consequence I don't do very much sewing!

I learnt to use a sewing machine when I was very young. My mum was always happy to let me play with her scraps and I was constantly improvising bags for me and clothes for my toys. Over the years I learnt to do appliqué, which I loved, quilting, which I didn't love and eventually moved on to making garments for myself.

Applique curtains for my son

I'm pretty tall (5 foot 10) and one of the joys of making things for yourself is that you can adjust the proportions so that the item actually fits! I made evening dresses to wear for my prom and balls at university, and several day dresses; I made my bridesmaids dresses and even considered making my own wedding dress (until I realised quite how long that would take!). These days my sewing is limited to curtains and project bags, although I do have plans to sew a summer dress for myself this year. As soon as I had children finding the floor space for pattern and fabric cutting became a bit of a battle and I still haven't found a solution to that, but when I do (probably when my children are bigger) I will spend a lot more time sewing.

Project bags in quirky fabrics

Do you like to sew? Do you have a solution to my lack of cutting space?

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

World Craft Week 2017: Cross stitch

This week for World Craft Week I am looking back at all the crafting activities I have enjoyed over the years. Today it's cross stitch.

The walls of my parents' house is evidence of my love of cross stitch: most walls feature a design stitched by me. I started cross stitch very early, possibly as young as three or four, using binca (aida cloth with 6 stitches to the inch), brightly coloured embroidery threads and no pattern. My Mum really encouraged me in this - she has always been creative and has a huge stash of craft materials, which I had pretty free access to. At this point my sewing was more crazy freehand embroidery than cross stitch, but my skills and patience developed quickly and I was soon following charts and creating little pictures.

I carried on cross stitching (and raiding my mum's craft supplies) for many years, with the fabrics getting finer and my ambition increasing. Every year I would request a cross stitch kit, often Country Companions hedgehogs, which I loved doing in spite of their slightly faffy variegated spines. My favourite designs required using only whole stitches - I never really enjoyed making quarter and three quarter stitches as they slowed me down - and I never enjoyed backstitch. I did try evenweave (around 28 strands per inch, with crosses worked over two strands), but it made my eyes hurt!

My mum used to buy a lot of cross stitch magazines, and each one came with a small kit for a card, needle case, or gift tag and I worked my way through all of those, enjoying the speed at which I could create a finished object. I didn't always have uses for the items, so we occasionally had a stand at a craft fair to sell some of the items on.

Once I'd exhausted the supply of kits I started designing my own cross stitch charts. My favourite images were based on the Bang on the Door characters, whose bold black outlines suited the pixilated nature of cross stitch. Had it been as easy to create and sell cross stitch designs as it is now, I may have gone down the cross stitch route over the knitting route for longer, but one day I stopped as I had run out of wall space!

I haven't done any cross stitch in well over ten years. While I enjoy it - the repeated motions are very therapeutic - there really are only so many ways to use the items you've stitched, and my parents have enough of my cross stitch cushion covers and pictures to last a lifetime. I have a few pieces that still need framing (I stitched the Winnie the Pooh picture at least ten years ago!), which I might get round to one day.

To be framed, ten years on...

Last year while I was in Hobbycraft I did briefly entertain the idea of doing some more cross stitch and bought a kit for a festive design to be mounted in a hoop. I ran out of time to do it before last Christmas, but think I probably will of it for this year. 

A nice quick project when I fancy it

Have you ever done cross stitch? What have you done with the finished pieces?

Monday, 3 April 2017

World Craft Week 2017: Introduction

This week is World Craft Week, a new event hosted on Facebook by Immediate Media, who publish a large array of crating magazines, including Simply Knitting, Mollie Makes and Simply Crochet. I'm always enthusiasic about a new crafting event, so have decided that this week I will tell you about my adventures in crafting over the years.

While knitting is now my primary craft, I have tried many! Cross stitch, crochet, sewing, colouring and many more have all made an appearance, some with more success than others! I'm really looking forward to taking you through my crafting adventures this week.

Immediate Media are giving away a free digimag featuring 25 craft projects, as well as a collection of discount vouchers to use over World Craft Week. If you fancy downloading a copy, follow this link.

Are you a crafter? What is your favourite craft and what would you like to try next?

Friday, 31 March 2017

Best Year Ever KAL, January–March 2017

At the start of this year I said that I would join in on only one knitalong this year, the Best Year Ever KAL being hosted by Nikki of the Tea and Possibilities podcast. I know I haven't managed to stick to that, and joined in the Sockmatician Sockalong in March, but I did actually complete those socks, so I'm glad I did (and that yarn definitely needed knitting - the finished socks are lovely!). Now we're a quarter of the way into the KAL, so here's a little update.

At the start of the KAL I aimed to knit an Antler jumper, a Lush cardigan, a purple shawl and a reindeer head (if you want to read the whole list you can find it here). That hasn't quite gone to plan...

My list has had a complete reshuffle. Item one on my Best Year Ever KAL is now my Dotted Rays shawl. I am really enjoying working on this. The rows are now LONG - over 300 sts, though now I've memorised the pattern the stitch count isn't critical, so I have given up counting the number of stitches (I gave up when there was a discrepancy between my numbers and those in the pattern; I am certain I am correct, but don't wish to question Mr West's maths...). I am a little way into the third of five balls, and suspect that when I sit down and work on it I will whizz through it. The Easter holidays are coming up, and the amount of mindless garter stitch makes this a pretty perfect soft play knit.

The second item on my list is my pink socks. They do have a planned name for when I release the pattern, but if that falls through I might just go with 'Whhheee!!'. I struggled a bit with these socks at first; they're part of a collection of three patterns and the first two went really smoothly. This pair was meant to be the easiest, but that turned out not to be the case. To make matters worse I started these off as two at a time socks and it messed the gauge up, so I had to start again. But as soon as I had sorted out the pattern and fixed all the early glitches I started to really enjoy them; the spiral nature of the rib means it really does feel like you're going whhheee! as you're knitting them! And the pink is so wonderfully vibrant; these socks have made me very happy.

I am undecided on my Antler jumper: I had been having gauge problems, so when I got to the end of the sleeve it wasn't long enough. I could just about have coped with that, expect that I am wondering whether the yarn might be too itchy for me to be able to wear it. I fished it out this morning to photograph and I am wondering whether it might be salvagable. If not, it's not the end of the world - I am considering casting on a new jumper for myself in the next few months, possibly a Pavement by Veera Valamaki, which looks like it might be a good transitional season jumper.

Have you been joining in with the Best Year Ever KAL? How are you getting on? It's not too late to join in the fun; if you want to know more, head over to the thread in Nikki's Ravelry group.*

*Ravelry link, you must be signed in to Ravelry for the link to work.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

New design: The Cat's Whiskers

My Instagram feed features an awful lot of knitting and yarn, and every now and again an adorable kitten or cat; it turns out cats are remarkably photogenic (and who wouldn't want to be a cat? I am a big fan of being able to curl up in the sun and while away the day). Inspired by this, a few months ago I decided to design a children's jumper featuring a cat's face: The Cat's Whiskers.

The Cat's Whiskers. Image copyright Practical Publishing.

This jumper would make an excellent first intarsia piece: the cat's face is mostly a single block of colour with the more complex colourwork coming much later in the chart, by which time you'll be pretty experienced in the colour changes! The project is also sufficiently small that it needn't be a daunting task.

The sweater is knitted in Lana Gatto Super Soft, which is an excellent value DK weight 100% merino yarn that comes in lots of lovely colours. I hadn't come across this yarn before I used it for this design, but would definitely recommend it; if you can't get hold of the recommended yarn, the design would work in any wool or wool blend DK. If you fancy making a cheap and cheerful version I often use Paintbox Yarns DK* for children's knits as it wears really well and comes in 60 colours - you could even use colours to match your own cats!

The Cat's Whiskers. Image copyright Practical Publishing.

The Cat's Whiskers is knitted flat in pieces from the bottom up, and the neckline is knitted on in the round after the body and shoulders have been seamed. The cat's face is incorporated using the intarsia technique, and the mouth is embroidered in upside-down duplicate stitch so that the sewn stitches sit between the knitted stitches. The pattern is written in five sizes: 2 (4, 6, 8 and 10) years, to fit chest sizes 53 (58.5, 63.5, 67, 71) cm [21 (23, 25, 26.5, 28) inches]; the sample shown is in the age 4 size.

The Cat's Whiskers is published in issue 72 of Knit Now magazine, which is available in all the usual places (newsagents and supermarkets) now. If you can't get hold of a copy locally, head over to the More Mags website to get a copy delivered to your door; alternatively you can order a digital copy of the magazine here and get started right away.

*Affiliate link; see the Disclaimers and Policies page for more information.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Single-Minded Sock Knitter

This week hasn't totally gone to plan so far. After the glorious sunshine and warmth of the weekend, the past two days have been cold! I had planned to do a photoshoot for my Barley Twist cardigan yesterday, but the day started foggy, so I made other plans for the day, and once the sun did come out I couldn't quite summon up the energy to drive across town to the place I was planning to take the photos. It will happen this week, just not when planned...

I had hoped that the clock change at the weekend would have solved the sleep issue we're currently having (namely a certain two year old having an internal body clock whose alarm rings at 6.20), and yesterday it worked: we got up at 7.20 (hooray!), and it felt totally ok to go to bed a little after 10, which was perfect. And then this morning my daughter wandered through at 6.20 and suggested that it might be time to get up. I have no idea how she's managed to change her body clock at the same time as the actual clocks; I shall continue to be bleary eyed for the foreseeable future. I did cut out some new curtains for her room at the weekend. Hopefully when I have stitched and hung them I will get a little more sleep. I can hope.

Things have been going well on the knitting front though. Yesterday morning I cast on the second of my pink socks. And yesterday evening I completed the heel. Suddenly they have clicked and I am loving working on them! I fully anticipate that I will finish the second sock this evening. I will have a finished pair of socks very soon. The pattern for these still isn't complete though - it turns out the charts are more involved than I was hoping, but I will get them done by the end of the week (if you fancy test knitting them, head over to my Ravelry group and let me know in the testing thread).

Last night I went to my regular Monday night knitting night and, as ever, had a lovely evening. I also got my hands on some amazing yarn, courtesy of my friend Fay, who is an amazing knitter and indie dyer (you can find her Etsy shop here). Some of her yarn popped up on my Instagram and Facebook feeds last week and I couldn't resist! The yarn is inspired by kingfishers, and is utterly beautiful. It's a merino nylon blend, but is far too wonderful to become socks; this yarn deserves to be some sort of shawl. Watch this space.

How's your week been so far? Any tips on sleepless toddlers?

Linking up with Louisa for Keep Calm Craft On.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Good morning! Today it is Mother's Day in the UK, and I am up bright and early (the clocks changed last night, so while they say 7.30 it doesn't feel like it!) while my daughter pootles around the living room, enjoying the first proper full weekend of sunshine we've had this year.

When I was small Mother's Day meant bunches of flowers given to the child at school and handed to their recipient a couple of days later, slightly wilted, and a handmade card. There was also usually a homemade cake, garishly decorated with as much food colouring and smarties (colourful chocolate 'beans' coated in a sugar shell) as we could get a way with.

While I was at junior school (7-11) and also a Brownie, the church in whose hall Brownies was held always invited the Brownies and their mums to the service on the Sunday (Mothering Sunday is technically a religious date, falling the third weekend before Easter); this was often a poorly attended service, which meant the chances of being designated flag-bearer were pretty high (I was always very excited about being flag-bearer; at some point during the ceremony each Brownie and Guide unit at the service would parade their unit flag to the front and place it in the special holder where they would be displayed for the rest of the ceremony). And no, being a flag-bearer wasn't exactly a gift for the mother, but it's always nice to watch your children doing things they're excited about!

These days I am a mum, and Mother's Day has become a rather more commercial event, with the shops being littered with balloons, chocolates and all manner of floral gifts, and anywhere that can hosting special afternoon teas. We're not doing anything special; I know that my children have each made me a card (the one from my daughter dropped out of her lunch bag yesterday when I was tidying up), and there is promise of my not having to cook this evening. It's nice to know that I am appreciated, but equally, I am lucky enough to know that I am appreciated as a mother every day of the year.

Having said that I don't want any gifts, I would like a couple of hours peace and quiet so I can get on with knitting on my Dotted Rays. It's my current weekend project and I've just finished the second ball of five. And maybe for someone else to make me a couple of cups of coffee...

Happy Mother's Day!

P. S. If anyone is interested, I am doing ok at the monogamous knitting. I have one pink sock and my Dotted Rays is keeping me company when the pink sock is too tricky!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Curious Case of the Monogamous Knitter

I've you've followed this blog for any period of time you'll know that I am not a monogamous knitter. But recently this appears to have come to a head and I have so many projects on the needles that none of them seem to be making any progress (and when I want a set of needle tips or some notions I can't find them as I can't remember which bag they might be in). So this weekend I decided that I would choose a project and work on it until it was finished.

I chose my Sockmatician Sockalong socks as they need to be done by the end of the month in order to qualify for the competition (a deadline is a great way to encourage me to actually work on a project). When I started on Saturday morning I had just finished the toe of the second sock. Every time I sat down to knit I picked up the socks and added a few rows. By the end of Saturday evening I had reached the heel, and I rattled through the rest of the sock on Sunday, finishing it on Monday evening (a bit of effort required there as I have mislaid all my tapestry needles. I found a few large darning needles, but nothing appropriate. I did eventually remember the pile of magazine freebies and located a needle that would do, and a cute tin. Both the tin and needles are now in general circulation, so I fully expect to have lost them in action within a week.).

I'm really pleased with these socks. They match to the stitch! And the colours of the yarn (Arne and Carlos sock yarn from Regia in the colourway Island) are lovely. I wore the socks all day yesterday and the fit is great. Hooray!

Having finished the pair of socks, I decided to stitch the buttons on the cardigan I finished last week, especially as I had a needle to hand. The buttons are from Textile Garden, and feature cute little bird silhouettes. My daughter had requested cat buttons, but I couldn't find any that would coordinate with the yarn (MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino Aran in Ochre**); she is yet to try wearing the cardigan as the weather today has been rather too wet to do a photoshoot, so I don't yet know whether she'll agree to wear it... The cardigan is a scaled-up version of my Barley Twist Cardigan, which I'm hoping to release in the next couple of months.

Two projects finished, time to pick up another. My pink socks have been stalled for a little while so I picked them up this morning and have worked the whole gusset today and will definitely have the heel done by the end of the day. I still haven't finished writing the pattern, but I do now know what I'm doing, so this pair should be finished up pretty soon. Maybe monogamous knitting is the way to go!

As it's Wednesday, I'm linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.* I am currently reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and really enjoying it. I watched the film on Netflix at the weekend and so far the book is very similar. A girl in her twenties gets made redundant when the cafe she works at shuts down and she takes on a job working as a companion to a quadriplegic man in his early thrities. I cried my eyes out during the film, and I imagine the book will have the same effect.

What's on your needles at the minute? What are you currently reading?

*I went to grab the links for Yarn Along and Ginny has decided to stop doing it on her blog. So this is the last Yarn Along (which I was always a little erratic about anyway), but I will keep sharing my reading along with my knitting.

**Affiliate link. See the Disclaimers and Policies page for more information.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017

The weekend before last I went on another yarny adventure (my second in three weeks having been to Joeli's retreat, which is pretty good going!), this time to Edinburgh Yarn Festival. This was a real treat as I had thought that I wouldn't be able to go as my husband was going away that weekend, but his plans fell through and I got to go! I decided to post a photo an hour to Instagram for the day, so have lots of pictures to share here now. Here is my day at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

My day started way too early - I managed to get up even before my alarm went off at 5.50am. As I was up so early, I had time to make and drink a coffee, and wound the next skein of yarn for my Dotted Rays, just in case I finished the skein I was on (which seemed pretty unlikely as I had about 25g of that skein to go, but it's always good to be prepared).

6.10am: First coffee and yarn of the day
I had planned to get the bus to the station, hence the very early alarm call, but in the end decided to drive and park so I wasn't left hanging around waiting for a bus in the evening. This meant plenty of time to get breakfast at the station, and a bit of knitting while I waited for my train to arrive.

7.05am: At the station: coffee and breakfast
The train from Durham to Edinburgh takes a couple of hours (and is a very scenic route as it runs along the coats for large sections), which I spent in the company of knitwear designer Katya Frankel, which was lovely. I also browsed through my copy of The Simple Things magazine (I love this magazine and love to have a copy with my while I'm travelling; I am clearly their target audience - there was an advert for the knitting shop Loop in there!) and did a few more rows on my Dotted Rays.

8am: Magazine reading on the train
I arrived in Edinburgh and was greeted by my friends Lynda and Leigh (Leigh makes excellent knitting bags, you can check out her shop here) who I joined for (another) breakfast, before finally making our way to the show.

9.37am: Second breakfast
10.40am: I have arrived!
When I arrived at the Festival I was on a bit of a mission; I wanted to get two skeins of red yarn to make a scarf, two Portuguese knitting pins and some buttons for a cardigan. I had been warned by many of the people that had gone to EYF on the Friday that it was incredibly busy, that the marketplace was rammed with people, and that if I wanted to buy particular things, I would be best off heading straight for the stall and buying straight away. Taking this advice I headed straight into the marketplace when I arrived and started my search. Saturday was (fortunately) a bit less busy. There were a lot of people, but not so many that it was overwhelming, and there were lots of spaces in which you could take a break and breathe for a few seconds.

I saw a lot of beautiful red yarn: Phileas Yarns, Travel Knitter and Easy Knits all had yarns that I loved. Dye Ninja was my favourite though; there were so many beautiful, intense saturated colours on the stand. I loved all the shades of blues and greens too. Having a definite plan made browsing a lot easier; I saw a lot of things that were beautiful - everything The Wool Kitchen had for sale was so vibrant and cheerful - but having a plan meant I wasn't tempted to buy things I wasn't necessarily going to use (and I have plenty in my stash that may never be used, so don't need any more!).

1.30pm: Drooling over the Dye Ninja stall
I could only find one stall selling buttons, but it was a good one! Textile Garden had loads of tiny glass pots with a huge variety of interesting buttons. Obviously I was drawn to the novelty section... I have no idea how I resisted the octopus buttons!

Buttons = essential purchases
One brilliant thing about Edinburgh Yarn Festival is the podcast lounge: a large seating area where you can sit and knit, chat and eat (including picnics; which allows more money for yarn!). I sat in the lounge for a few hours over the course of the day, catching up with people I know well, people I've met before, people I know of through Instagram and meeting new to me knitters. Everyone was very welcoming, and it was lovely knitwear-watching as so many people were wearing amazing knitwear!

2.25pm: A little sit down and knitting time
I left the Festival around 3pm, and enjoyed a walk through the city with friends, followed by afternoon tea and a bit more knitting. I deliberately tried to take it pretty easy as I know that overdoing it when I go away for the day tends to knock me for six. Finding a peaceful cafe was very welcome after all the hustle and bustle of the festival.

3.30pm: A walk through the city
4.05pm: Afternoon tea
5.05pm: Still sitting and knitting

I caught my train home a little after 7pm, and slept pretty solidly almost all the way home!

And here are my very modest purchases: 200g red (Nanny Ogg's Bloomers, with a donation to the Alzheimer's Research UK, in memory of Terry Pratchett) merino/silk blend DK from Dye Ninja, two Portuguese knitting pins from Textile Garden and a mini skein from Easy Knits (which will be added to my sock yarn blanket). I didn't buy any buttons as I couldn't see what I wanted (cats), but have since bought some bird buttons from Textile Garden, and they are lovely.

My lovely purchases
Did you go to Edinburgh Yarn Festival? What did you buy? Will you be going next year?