Friday, 17 August 2018

Not goodbye...

Hello! I hope this finds you well. Some of you may know that I am really not far off having a baby, so for the foreseeable future I will be on maternity leave and things are going to be a little quieter than usual around here.

I'll continue to update my blog with my Yarnometer and FO Friday posts, and I might even manage to write the odd Yarn Along post if I ever manage to read anything again... There are also some third party publications that I have coming up in the next few months, and they're going to have their own blog posts as usual. I won't be closing my Ravelry and Love Knitting stores while I'm absent, so you'll still be able to pick up patterns if you'd like.*

I'll be back some time in the new year with new designs. Until then, happy knitting!

*Remember, if you buy 4 individual patterns from my Ravelry store, you'll get the cheapest one free. Just add the patterns to your basket and the discount will be applied when you check out.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Available now: Unicorn of the sea jumper

Narwhals are my favourite of the 'mythical' beasts, mostly because they are real - I love that they are so implausible! My celebration of the narwhal, the Unicorn of the Sea Sweater, which features a cheeky-looking narwhal, was released via I Like Knitting magazine, and is now available as an individual pattern from my Ravelry store.

The Unicorn of the Sea Sweater is knitted flat from the bottom up in sections that are seamed before adding the neckline in the round. The jumper is knitted in stocking stitch with 2 x 2 ribbing for the cuffs, hem and neckline and the narwhal motif is added using the intarsia technique. The pattern is written in 6 sizes: 2 (4, 6, 8, 10, 12) years and is designed to fit with 5 cm [2 inches] of positive ease.**

The jumper is knitted in Stylecraft Life DK,* which is one of my favourite basic yarns. The yarn is 75% acrylic and 25% wool, and is machine washable, so you don't need to be precious about the jumper getting washed and worn over and over again.

The Unicorn of the sea jumper pattern is available now from my Ravelry store, and from now until 11.59pm BST, Saturday 25th August 2018 you can have 25% off the pattern, no code needed.

*Affiliate link. 

**Yes, I have added an extra size compared to the magazine pattern, perfect for slightly larger narwhal lovers!

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Yarn along: Not nesting

It's been ages since I wrote a Yarn Along post, so hello! How have you all been?

I really haven't had much time to read recently - I've been preparing for our new arrival mostly by doing a lot of laundry, almost always on the days when it's decided to rain unexpectedly, and getting a few things down from the loft - but am really enjoying the current book I'm reading: The Lido by Libby Page. The book is about a local reporter (Kate) who is asked to write about a community lido that is closing in the near future to be replaced by tennis courts for a private development. Kate hasn't come across the lido before, but soon falls in love with the lido and the community that surrounds it, and sets about making it her mission to save the lido. This book came highly recommended to me, and I think I'm the fourth or fifth person to read the copy I'm reading. I'll be passing it on to a friend once I'm done, and would really recommend it too if you're after a light but thought-provoking read.

"What's on the needles at the minute?", I hear you ask. Well, lots of things, sort of. The second blanket for my twin nieces is still a WIP, as it's been too hot to contemplate working with chunky-weight yarn, but now the weather is a little cooler I really ought to get on with it (especially as while I am confident I can knit while feeding a baby, intarsia is a whole other kettle of fish. It is further on than this picture suggests - I have completed the first row of bunnies).

I've just finished a Wonder Woman Wrap (by Carissa Browning), which I sped through and enjoyed immensely. The project was an absolute joy - the perfect combination of mindless garter stitch and beautiful short rows. I loved how intuitive I found the construction, and the beautiful yarn was a bonus. I still need to darn the ends in, which I would have done earlier in the week, but was hampered by having mislaid every single appropriate sewing needle. I have no idea where any of them have gone, so bought two new packets at the weekend. I shall probably mislay those too within a week.

The final commission before maternity leave went in the post yesterday, and I'm pleased that all my deadline knitting is off the needles. There are a couple of self-published designs I would love to have finished before maternity leave, but sometimes I have to admit that I may have over-stretched myself and take a step back.

The other projects I'm enjoying at the minute are socks. I'm knitting a pair for my daughter, and have a pair for the Yarndale sock line on the go too (they're the socks in the photo with the book - it's a very worthy cause if you can knit up a pair by the end of the month; if the end of the month is too soon for you, but you fancy doing some charity knitting you could knit a pair for the Flower Power Fund; those socks are needed in time for Christmas. I plan to knit a pair in last year's colourway as I ran out of time last year). The Marathon sock KAL is still ongoing in my Ravelry group,* and we're nearly there, which is so exciting! I was expecting it to take much longer, so am really pleased that it looks like we'll be done by the end of September at the latest.

But yes, the elephant in the room: why are there no knits for my baby on the WIP list? Well, I haven't really felt like it. I'm not a nester by nature, and we already have all the things I knitted for my older children that this baby can wear. I also have very generous knitterly friends who I know have been knitting things for the new baby (I've already been gifted two beautiful blankets!), so I don't feel a need to knit anything. I do have a skein of yarn that has been earmarked for a baby knit, and some ladybird buttons that are shouting at me to be added to something small and cute, so I might knit a Newborn Vertebrae or Puerperium cardigan in the next few days (baby knits are quick), but it's been warm here recently, so there's a strong possibility that baby knits might get even less use that the usually would. We shall see...

What have you been working on recently? And do you have any easy sleep-deprived-appropriate reading to recommend?

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

*This is a ravelry link. You need to be logged in to Ravelry for it to work. Membership is free.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

New design: Sugarcube cowl

It's definitely summer here now, and if you're looking for something seasonally-appropriate to knit, you need look no further than the latest issue of Knit Now magazine (issue 91), which is available in shops now. I have a new pattern in the issue: the Sugarcube cowl.

As summer turns to autumn I find myself wanting a lightweight additional layer: cowls are my favourite solution. The Sugarcube cowl is knitted in Hayfield Sundance* (50% acrylic, 50% cotton; 320 m per 100 g ball), a DK weight yarn with a high cotton content, which gives the yarn a really cool, crisp feel when you're working with it, and a lovely drape once it's knitted. The cowl can be made either short or long (to be wrapped round the neck twice) to add a little extra warmth without resorting to a coat, or to provide a little protection from the sun.

The stitch pattern uses just knit and purl stitches with a 10 st, 20 row repeat, that is pretty intuitive once you've done the first repeat or two, making this a good project to work on when knitting with friends or chatting over coffee. The stitch pattern is fully reversible, so the inside of the cowl is as attractive as the outside.

The cowl pattern is written in six sizes: S (M, L) for each of the short and long cowls.

Knit Now issue 91 is available now from newsagents and supermarkets in the UK, or you can order a copy from More Mags.

*Affiliate link. The cowl is shown in shade 504 Aqua Mist.

All images copyright Practical Publishing.

Friday, 27 July 2018

New design: Siren song socks

I've got a new pattern for you today, and this is one that some of you might have been waiting for for some time as I think I finished the original sample over two years ago... so let me introduce my Siren song socks.

I have a large (huge) collection of variegated yarns and always struggle to find patterns that won't be overwhelmed by the yarn. One solution is to knit what is essentially a vanilla sock with a slipped stitch detail, an idea that led me to my Siren song socks. The stitch pattern is used in a single panel along one edge of each foot (the socks are a mirrored pair), and is easily memorised; the socks are named after the Siren, a mythical creature, whose call was said to lure sailors to rocks – the stitch pattern used is one that will have knitters saying 'just one more round' as they watch the pattern emerge – my test knitters all finished theirs in record time, and several have said they're keen to knit more pairs.

The pattern is knitted from the top-down (a change for me, but I know a lot of you have been asking for top-down patterns) and is written to be needle-neutral and can be knitted using either the magic-loop technique, short circulars or DPNs, depending on your individual preference. The pattern also features some helpful hints for beginners.

To keep everyone sweet, the cabled stitch pattern is given as both a chart and written instructions.

The Siren Song pattern is written in five sizes: XS (S, M, L, XL), with finished sock circumferences of 15 (17.5, 20, 22.5, 25) cm [6 (7, 8, 9, 10) in], which should give you plenty of options. I'd advise choosing a size 2.5 cm [1 in] smaller than your foot circumference for optimal fit. Unless you're knitting the largest size, or have decided to knit socks with very long legs, you should be able to get a pair out of a single 100 g skein of sock yarn.

The samples shown are knitted in some lovely yarns: the blue version is knitted in Phileas Yarns Explorer Sock: 80% Merino, 20% Nylon; 365 m [400 yds] per 100 g in the colourway Fjord. Sylvie makes amazing semi-solid sock yarns, so you should definitely check out her Etsy store. The multi-coloured version (the one I knitted two years ago, but the yarn is still on Sam's dye list) is knitted in Unbelievawool MCN sock: 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon; 400 m [437 yds] per 100 g in the colourway Mermaid hair. All of Sam's yarns can be found on her website. Of course you can use any sock yarn, my testers used stripey and variegated yarns to good effect; I recommend using a yarn that has some nylon content to make your socks more hard-wearing.

Want to get your copy now? Head over to my Ravelry store. The pattern has a 25% introductory discount until 11.59pm BST Monday 6th August 2018, no code needed.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Love Knitting: Big July Sale

In case you hadn’t noticed, Love Knitting* are currently having a big July sale, with lots and lots of yarn available at bargain prices. As an affiliate for Love Knitting, they let me choose some sale yarns to review, and this is what I chose.**

The Yarn Collective Pembroke Worsted* in Bumblebee Jasper

This yarn from The Yarn Collective is one I have been eyeing for a while. It’s a plied 100% Merino worsted weight wool (somewhere between DK and aran for those not familiar with the worsted term) that has beautiful stitch definition, making it perfect for cables. The yarn comes in ten colourways, all named after and inspired by gems and minerals, and is hand-dyed in small batches to give amazing depth of colour.

The yarn is beautiful to touch, it’s soft and bouncy, and the colour is really rich. One small reservation is that I found it hard to picture the colour from the shots on the website, as the colour samples are really small, which can make it hard to see what tones will be in the yarn when you receive it - the Bumblebee Jasper has a slight green hue to it on the website that isn't there in the skein I recieved (which is absolutely not an issue as I like the more yellow tone better!).

What’s this yarn going to become? Probably a Beeswax Hat by Amy van de Laar. She’s running a KAL for the pattern over on Instagram and Ravelry over the next few weeks (July 28th to August 18th 2018), so I’ll be casting on for that. The yarn calls for DK weight, but my head calls for a slightly larger hat, so I’ll play about with the gauge and make it work as the colour is perfect!

Beeswax hat by Amy van de Laar. Image copyright Amy van de Laar

The yarn has 30% off in the sale, taking it to £11.83 for 100g, which is very reasonable for hand dyed yarn.

Cascade Heritage Prints* in Lights

I am always keen to try out different sock yarns, and while I’ve used Cascade Heritage Solids* in the past, I’d not tried the prints, so thought this would be a good opportunity. I am a sucker for bright colours, and the pink and purple in this yarn really leapt out at me on the website.

The yarn is the same base as the Solids (75% Merino wool, 25% nylon), and you get a full 400m of sock yarn per 100g ball, which means you should be able to get a full pair of adult sized socks out of a ball. The yarn has a nice twist to it, and that in combination with the nylon means it will be good and hard-wearing. It’s also super-soft, which will make it perfect for even the most sensitive feet.

To be honest, I am not 100% sold on the colourway - it has three solid stripes and two fairisle-style ones, but all the solids are next to each other, which I think will annoy me; I’d prefer the solids to be alternated with the fairisle. I do always have socks on the needles though and this will make an excellent choice for my socks for the Winwick Mum Yarndale Sock Line, so I’m going to knit it up for that.

Selected colourways of this yarn have 25% off in the sale, taking them down to £6.74.

Fancy browsing all the sale yarns? You can find the sale section here.*

*Affiliate link.

**Love Knitting supplied the yarn to me to review for free; all opinions are my own.

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