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.