Wednesday, 10 July 2019

WIP Wednesday: July 10th 2019: Watermelon wonders

I thought I’d change things up a little on the blog, so hello, and welcome to the first Work In Progress (WIP) Wednesday post. Fingers crossed, this will be the first of a weekly series looking at whatever is on my needles on a Wednesday. Feel free to join in - if you write a post on your own blog, link to it in the comments and I’ll be sure to read it; alternatively, you can just tell me what you’re working on in the comments.

I seem to have a real thing for sock-knitting this year: I posted a few weeks ago about having finished ten pairs this year, and the sock-mojo is still strong. My current sock project is unusual for me in two ways: (1) the socks are made in a cotton yarn; and (2) they’re shortie socks.


I hadn’t planned on knitting shortie, cotton socks this summer (or ever!), but when I was with my friend Lynda a few weeks ago she came across some lovely-looking watermelon-striped sock yarn online and asked if I wanted some ordering as well. When the yarn arrived we were both a little surprised as we were expecting the yarn to be Regia’s standard 75% wool, 25% nylon blend, but this is a mix of cotton, polyamide and polynitrile. Rather than return the yarn, I decided to challenge myself to knitting some summer shortie socks to wear with my canvas shoes.


I did have a brief browse of shortie sock patterns on Ravelry, but got a little overwhelmed and decided to cast on 64 sts as usual and knit a cuff and just a few rounds for the legs before working the heel. I am really enjoying knitting these shortie socks. Obviously they’re quicker than standard socks as you get to the heel pretty much immediately. The yarn is knitting up really smoothly, so I keep stopping to admire the beautifully even stitches (a process that is slowing me down a little!), but I have almost completed one sock and I don’t think the other will be far behind.


I’m pretty certain I will have enough yarn for a second pair of shortie socks from this ball. Have you ever knitted shortie socks before? Are there any patterns you would recommend?

That’s me, now it’s your turn: what are you working on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Marathon Sock KAL 2019: FO thread is now OPEN!

The Marathon Sock KAL has been running for a little over a week, and the FO (finished object) thread is now officially open!* The KAL will run until we have knitted the full 26** miles of yarn.



Do I have to knit the full 26 miles by myself? No, of course not! All you have to do is knit a pair of adult-sized socks, and add a photo of them to the finished object thread (open now!)* when they're done, noting the amount of yarn used. I'll add up all the yarn lengths from each entry, and we should quite quickly have knitted a marathon's worth of yarn.

The chatter thread is also open in my Ravelry group,* so you can chat while you cast on and knit your socks.

Happy knitting!

********

Aim
Knit a Marathon's worth of socks: 26.219 miles of sock yarn converted into socks.

Rules (updated to clarify a few points)

  • Socks must be cast-on on or after July 1st 2019
  • Socks can be knitted or crocheted in any yarn weight
  • All socks must have a proper heel (no yoga or tube socks)
  • The KAL will close once the full 26 miles of yarn have been knitted
  • You must post a photo of your pair of socks to the KAL FO thread, including the exact number of metres of yarn you used (to the nearest metre)
  • I'll keep a running total for the group
  • To be eligible for a prize, you must be a member of the Ravelry group and/or following vikkibirddesigns on Instagram
  • If you're on Instagram, use the hashtag #marathonsockkal2019
  • Double-dipping is permitted
  • Socks must be knitted as pairs (no single sock entries)
  • If you are entering via Instagram and do not have a Ravelry account/do not use Ravelry, you can enter by posting a photo of your socks on Instagram (on your grid, not in your stories), and filling in this form (you can also use this form if, for whatever reason, you are struggling to create an FO thread entry); I will create an FO thread entry based on the information you provide
Prizes (kindly sponsored by LoveCrafts***)
  • One prize drawn from #marathonsockkal2019 on Instagram
  • One prize drawn from the chatter thread
  • One prize drawn from the FO thread
********

*Ravelry link. This link will not work if you are not a member of Ravelry. If you have found out about this KAL via Instagram and do not have a Ravelry account, but still wish to enter, please post a photo of your finished socks to your Instagram grid (remember to use the hashtag #marathonsockkal2019 and tag me, @vikkibirddesigns), then fill in this form and I will create an entry in the FO thread for you

**26.219 miles = 42 195 m; each of my pairs of socks uses approximately 300 m of yarn (assuming sock weight yarn at 400 m per 100 g)

***Affiliate link

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Tessellate baby blanket

Hello! I'm back into full-swing with work (well, as full-swing as is possible around three children during the summer term – a lot of my time seems to be taken up with sports days!), and have been starting to work through the pile of third-party designs that need adding to my Ravelry store.

The Tessellate baby blanket (originally published in Knit Now issue 86) is a bold, high contrast design, inspired by patchwork and quilting. The blanket features a strong geometric design created using simple two colour squares that are knitted on the diagonal – this blanket makes excellent TV knitting, and is a great portable project. You could work the blanket in pastels, as shown, for a really pretty baby blanket, or you could use something brighter and bolder for a more contemporary look.


Unusually for me, this pattern is completely suitable for beginners. All you need to be able to do is knit garter stitch, work simple increases and decreases, and pick up stitches! The project is also perfect for those of you that want an easy project to take along on days out over the summer – as it's worked as individual squares, it'll fit perfectly in your bag among all the other stuff you need for a day out.

The pattern is written for the baby-sized blanket, as shown, but I've also included details on how to make a larger or smaller blanket, and provided diagrams for alternative seaming arrangements, so this blanket is fully customisable.


The original blanket is knitted in Three Bears Yarn Affection 100% Cotton Aran, which is spun in Lancashire by English Fine Cottons, but you can use any aran weight yarn that is suitable for babies (ideally chose something smooth and machine washable to make it easy for new parents to care for).

The pattern is available now on Ravelry. From now until 11.59pm BST, Sunday 7th July 2019, you can get 20% off with the code TESSELLATE, just add the code before you check out.

The pattern will also be available shortly on Love Crafts* (the new name for Love Knitting) - just search for Tessellate baby blanket (note that discount codes do not apply on Love Crafts).


Happy knitting!

********

Pattern details

Sizes
One size: 93 cm (36.5 in) square

Tension
17 sts and 34 rows = 10 cm (4 in) in garter stitch worked flat on 5 mm (US 8) needles after wet blocking, or size needed to obtain correct tension.

Yarn
Aran-weight yarn in the following colours and amounts (for the blanket as shown; options are included to make a larger or smaller blanket):
A (white): 285 m (310 yds)
B (light blue): 285 m (310 yds)
C (light purple): 160 m (175 yds)

Needles
5 mm (US 8) straight needles at least 25 cm (10 in) in length
5 mm (US 8) circular needle at least 60 cm (24 in) in length

Notions
Tapestry needle

Sample details
The sample is knitted in Three Bears Yarn Affection Aran (aran, 85 m per 50 g ball, 100% cotton) in Pure White (A), Baby Blue (B) and Purple Delight (C).

********

*Affiliate link.

Monday, 1 July 2019

The Marathon Sock KAL 2019: Cast on now!

It's here!

The Marathon Sock KAL - a KAL that involves a collective effort to knit a marathon's worth of yarn* - starts today!


The Marathon Sock KAL starts today and runs through the summer (prime sock-knitting season) or until we have knitted the full 26 miles of yarn.

Do I have to knit the full 26 miles by myself? No, of course not! All you have to do is knit a pair of adult-sized socks, and add a photo of them to the finished object thread (opening soon) when they're done, noting the amount of yarn used. I'll add up all the yarn lengths from each entry, and we should quite quickly have knitted a marathon's worth of yarn.

The chatter thread is open now in my Ravelry group, so you can chat while you cast on and knit your socks.

Happy knitting!

********

Aim
Knit a Marathon's worth of socks: 26.219 miles of sock yarn converted into socks.

Rules
  • Socks be cast-on on or after July 1st 2019
  • Socks can be knitted or crocheted in any yarn weight
  • All socks must have a proper heel (no yoga or tube socks)
  • The KAL will close once the full 26 miles of yarn have been knitted
  • You must post a photo of your pair of socks to the KAL FO thread, including the exact number of metres of yarn you used (to the nearest metre)
  • I'll keep a running total for the group
  • To be eligible for a prize, you must be a member of the Ravelry group
  • If you're on Instagram, use the hashtag #marathonsockkal2019

Prizes
  • One prize drawn from #marathonsockkal2019 on Instagram
  • One prize drawn from the chatter thread
  • One prize drawn from the FO thread

*26.219 miles = 42 195 m; each of my pairs of socks uses approximately 300 m of yarn (assuming sock weight yarn at 400 m per 100 g)

Friday, 21 June 2019

The Marathon Sock KAL 2019: 10 days to go...

It's almost here: the Marathon Sock KAL - a KAL that involves a collective effort to knit a marathon's worth of yarn.*


The KAL will start on July 1st 2019, and run through the summer (prime sock-knitting season) or until we have knitted the full 26 miles of yarn.

Do I have to knit the full 26 miles by myself? No, of course not! All you have to do is knit a pair of adult-sized socks, and add a photo of them to the finished object thread when they're done, noting the amount of yarn used. I'll add up all the yarn lengths from each entry, and we should quite quickly have knitted a marathon's worth of yarn.

The chatter thread is open now in my Ravelry group, so you can start chatting about your plans for the KAL.

Until then, happy knitting.

********

Aim
Knit a Marathon's worth of socks: 26.219 miles of sock yarn converted into socks.

Rules
  • Socks be cast-on on or after July 1st 2019
  • Socks can be knitted or crocheted in any yarn weight
  • All socks must have a proper heel (no yoga or tube socks)
  • The KAL will close once the full 26 miles of yarn have been knitted
  • You must post a photo of your pair of socks to the KAL FO thread, including the exact number of metres of yarn you used (to the nearest metre)
  • I'll keep a running total for the group
  • To be eligible for a prize, you must be a member of the Ravelry group
  • If you're on Instagram, use the hashtag #marathonsockkal2019

Prizes
  • One prize drawn from #marathonsockkal2019 on Instagram
  • One prize drawn from the chatter thread
  • One prize drawn from the FO thread

*26.219 miles = 42 195 m; each of my pairs of socks uses approximately 300 m of yarn (assuming sock weight yarn at 400 m per 100 g)

Friday, 14 June 2019

Mellow yellow (Yarn Along: June 2019)

Hello June! I'm a bit late with June's Yarn Along post, but, honestly, I'm working on the same project as last week, and reading the same book, so let's pretend I wrote this last week!

Having started work again after maternity leave, I'm restricting myself to one personal project at a time, with the general intention of casting things on, then actually finishing them. The current project is a cardigan for my smallest daughter. The weather in the UK at the minute is particularly erratic - it's pouring with rain as I write this, in spite of it being 'summer' - so layers are really helpful when dressing a small child. I'm knitting a Granny's Favourite, a cardigan that I have knitted before, several times. I'm knitting it in Bergere de France Ideal* in the colour way Jaune, which is a lovely soft buttery yellow, and will be perfect over summer dresses, assuming we ever get any sunshine. The yarn is listed as a DK weight, but I would say knits up better at 24 sts to 10 cm, so is on the lightweight side. The project is a lovely one, and I am enjoying adding a row here and there - I should be able to cast off the body in the next day or two.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is my current read, and it is one of the best things I've read in absolutely ages. Paul is 36 and coming to the end of his surgical training, looking forward to the life he's dreamed of when he finally qualifies, when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He wrote the book between his diagnosis and his death at 37. Kalanithi gained a degree in English Literature before he studied medicine, and his writing style is beautiful. I've recommended this book to everyone I have spoken to in the past few weeks, and so many people have replied that it is a fantastic book that has really stuck with them, so I would definitely recommend it. I would note though, that you shouldn't give it to someone as a 36th birthday present, as it will give them a complex!


What are you currently working on? Read anything good lately?

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along. Head to her post to find out what other people are reading and crafting on.

*Affiliate link.

Friday, 31 May 2019

FINAL DAY: 50% off all patterns in my Ravelry store

I'm back to work after maternity leave, so, to celebrate, I'm hosting a sale in my Ravelry store.

Pattern shown is Granny's Button Jar

From now until 11.59pm BST, May 31st 2019 (that's tonight!), all the patterns in my Ravelry store have 50% off with the code BACKTOWORK


Happy knitting!

Saturday, 25 May 2019

The sale continues...

To celebrate being back to work after maternity leave, I'm hosting a sale in my Ravelry store.

Patterns shown: (top left) Waddle; (top right) Can't Catch Me!; (bottom left) Unicorn of the Sea; (bottom right) From Breton with Love

From now until 11.59pm BST, May 31st 2019, all the patterns in my Ravelry store have 50% off with the code BACKTOWORK


Happy knitting!

Monday, 20 May 2019

Back to work SALE!

Hello!

Pattern shown is Fluffy White Clouds

After nine months of baby snuggles, I am back! To celebrate, I am hosting a sale in my Ravelry store. All my self-published patterns (both single patterns and ebooks) will be available with 50% off until the end of May 2019 (11.59pm BST, May 31st 2019) using the code BACKTOWORK, so if you fancy stocking up on my patterns, now is the time.

I have patterns for adults, patterns for kids, intarsia patterns and more, so why not head over to my Ravelry store now to take a look?

Happy knitting.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Welcome to the sock parade!

For the past few weeks I have knitted little but socks. To me they really are the perfect portable project: small enough to be popped into a bag for a day out, easy enough to work on while feeding a baby or holding a conversation, and quick enough that you can get to the end of the project before you lose interest. Somehow, I have finished 10 pairs of socks so far this year,* which has surprised me! So here they are, 10 pairs of socks in all their glory.

1. Fabulous Felici socks
I started these socks a long time ago (2016 to be precise), whizzed through all the sock knitting and stalled at adding the heels. I had planned on these being my first afterthought heel socks, but got intimidated and put them to one side. I've now knitted several pairs with true afterthought heels, so once I stay down to work on them, knitting the heels only took an evening or so.


2. My Christmas Eve 2018 cast-on socks
Every year I cast on a pair of socks on (or around) Christmas Eve to work on over the festive period. Last year's cast-on was a pair of sport-weight socks in yarn from the December 2018 sock crate from Knit Crate. The yarn came as a colour-blocked yarn, which I broke down into its constituent colours and knitted up as tonal stripes with contrast heels and toes. I wasn't certain I'd have enough yarn to make full-length socks, so knitted these from the toe-up having split each shade of yarn into two balls that weighed the same. The socks are the perfect length, and I had just enough of the contrast yarn left for the cast-off.


3. Little rainbow socks
I can't resist a rainbow yarn, and this lovely bright rainbow yarn is no exception, it's just beautiful! My daughter (aged 4) saw it and requested socks for her in it. She has small feet, so in theory these socks should have been quick, but I got sidetracked after I started them last summer once I had knitted the first sock, so they were finished long after they should have been! Fortunately they still fitted when I finally finished them.


4. These socks make me think of cake...
I was given the yarn for these socks in my knitting-group Secret Santa last year, and I love it! There's something so cheery and bright about it, and the combination of pink and sprinkles makes me think of cake. I hadn't used King Cole Zig Zag before, and was pleasantly surprised - the yarn is inexpensive but nice to work with and I think it'll wear really well.


5. Another pair of Felici socks
Felici sock yarn is definitely one of my favourites: it comes in lots of bright, striped colours and is wonderfully soft. Unfortunately Knit Picks release the yarn in batches, and they usually sell out pretty quickly, so I always make sure to stock up when they have some available. I bought this colourway a few years ago, and had been hoarding it. The pink and green seemed perfect for spring, and I really enjoyed knitting these socks. It took me a few attempts to get the heel to look exactly how I wanted it to - the first time I misjudged how much yarn the heel turn would take, the second I used a pink that was just wrong, but I was really pleased with the final choice of green yarn for the heel turn: unobtrusive, and it kept the stripes in order.


6. From the deeper recesses of the WIP pile
I have a collection of long-abandoned sock works in progress (WIPs), and this spring I have been focusing on clearing some of them off the needles. These socks were cast on in 2016, on cheap circulars that I kept arguing with. Inevitably I abandoned the project, and when I picked it up again I switched to some nicer needles. Having looked at the socks, I decided that I needed them to have a few more stitches, so unravelled them and started again. Obviously I was more successful this time, and the finished pair have been sent to my brother.


7. Socks for a knitworthy uncle
I knitted my uncle some socks as a surprise birthday present a couple of years ago; he liked them so much he requested another pair, and this is what I came up with. The colours are more muted than I usually choose, but I enjoyed watching the gentle, soothing stripes appear.


8. I cast on the right number of stitches this time...
Sometimes when I knit socks, I underestimate how much attention I need to pay. Last year, I was knitting these socks to go to Marie Curie to be donated to a cancer patient over the festive period. I knitted the first sock, then ploughed on with the second. I did briefly wonder why the two socks were pooling differently, and it was only when I got to the heel that I realised I had cast on the wrong number of stitches for the second sock. Just before Christmas is not the best time to add extra things to my to-do list, so I put these to one side and came back to them earlier this month. I knitted a good portion of the second sock while watching Avengers: Endgame at the cinema, and these socks seemed to knit themselves once I got past the heel.


9. I weighed the yarn, and yet...
I cast on a pair of socks for my aunt at the same time as I was knitting socks for my uncle. I thought I'd be clever and use up the leftovers from another pair of socks. I weighed the yarn and got knitting. By the time I got to the heel of the first sock, I realised that I was definitely going to run out of yarn. Oops. Rather than unravel them and start again with something else, I made some slightly smaller socks, and sent them to my sister in law instead.


10. My aunt did get socks in the end!
Having passed the socks for my aunt on to my sister in law, I had to cast on a different pair for my aunt. This Stylecraft Head Over Heels was a yarn I was quite excited about knitting up, but was a little disappointed when it was actually on the needles. The colour changes are a little messy, and there are dye splashes on some of the stripes. Not the end of the world, but not quite what I was aiming for. The finished socks do look nice though, and I didn't run out before the end.


Here's to many more pairs of socks! I'm going to carry on working through the pile of old WIPs, and start knitting through my stash of special yarns - there are quite a lot and they deserve to become socks. Remember, I'll be hosting the Marathon Sock KAL from July 1st if you fancy joining me on a sock adventure.

*Ok, I didn't start them all this year...

Details of the yarns and patterns used can be found via the Ravelry project pages for each project, which are linked in the headings for each pair of socks.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Tips for working with fluffy yarn


On Friday I shared my latest design, a Shaun the Sheep jumper knitted in King Cole Tufty,* a super-chunky weight fluffy yarn.

Image copyright Practical Publishing

If you haven't knitted with King Cole Tufty or similar yarns before, then they might be a little intimidating, so today I'm sharing some tips and hints that might help.

What's special about these fluffy yarns?
King Cole Tufty* and other eyelash yarns are made up of a central core that has strands coming off it to make the yarn fluffy. This means that the central core is quite thin, even though the knitted fabric looks quite dense.


When you're working with the yarn...
Choosing a pattern
  • Simplicity is key with fluffy yarns; you won't be able to see any increases and decreases under the fluff, so choose simple ones, like backward loop increases and knit two together decreases, rather than anything more involved.
  • Avoid patterns that require picking up stitches as it can be hard to make sure you catch the central cord.
  • Try short rows for shaping - any holes from changing direction can be hidden by slipping the first stitch on the return journey.

Swatching
  • It can be tricky to count the number of stitches and rows you've knitted in a fluffy yarn, so cast on a specific number of stitches, then work a specific number of rows before casting off (ideally twice the number of stitches/rows the gauge is given over in the pattern). Measure the piece that you've knitted and compare the measurements to those given rather than trying to count stitches.

Knitting
  • Slow down! I found I needed to knit very deliberately with this yarn, making sure I caught the central cord every time I knitted a stitch.
  • These yarns are usually worked on larger needles, so you might find you don't have any stitch markers that are large enough. Try using a loop of smooth waste yarn as a stitch marker instead.
  • With fluffy yarns, it can be hard to tell the front of the work from the back, so place a removable stitch marker on the front of the work after you've worked a few rows.
  • Before you start knitting, write a list of the rows you need to work and check them off as you knit them.

Placing stitches on hold

  • If you need to place stitches on hold, work the whole item on interchangeable needles, and place the stitches you need to hold onto spare cables. This avoids having to thread stitches on and off needles.

Looking for the perfect finish?
Weaving in ends
I came up with two options for weaving in the ends of the fluffy yarn:
  • Catch the ends in place using sewing thread the same colour as the fabric you've created.
  • Trim the fluff off the central core to create a smoother yarn that is easier to thread through the eye of the needle and weave in.

Seaming
  • Use oddments of thinner yarn, e.g. DK weight yarn, for seaming.
That's it! It's really not hard to knit with fluffy yarns if you take it slowly. If you found these tips helpful, comment below, or share this post via social media.

Happy knitting.


Image copyright Practical Publishing

*Affiliate link.
**Other yarns with a  similar construction include Stylecraft Eskimo* and Rico Creative Bubble*. Mohair yarns often have a similar construction as well.

Friday, 10 May 2019

New design: Shaun the Sheep jumper

You may recall that when Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, died, I wrote a post about the role Wallace and Gromit had played in my childhood. I adored Wallace and Gromit, and still do as an adult, so imagine my excitement when Kate, the editor for Knit Now Magazine, contacted me to ask if I would like to design a Shaun the Sheep jumper for kids! Of course I leapt at the chance, and the pattern is available now in issue 102 of Knit Now Magazine.


The jumper isn't my usual intarsia, instead it's a really playful appliqu├ęd design, with Shaun's head and ears sewn onto a jumper that is knitted in fluffy yarn. The ear tips are left loose so that the child can play with them while they're wearing the jumper; this is a super-tactile knit!

The basic jumper is knitted flat from the top down in one piece with minimal seaming. Simple short rows are used to create the neckline shaping. Only basic increases and decreases are required to create the face and ear pieces, and Shaun's eyes and nostrils are embroidered at the end. The whole thing is knitted in super chunky weight yarn, making for a really quick knit.


The jumper uses a combination of King Cole Tufty* for the textured sections and King Cole Big Value Super Chunky* for the hems, cuffs, neckline and face details.

The pattern is written for 6 sizes from ages 2 to 12, and covers chest sizes 59 to 84 cm.


I really enjoyed knitting the Shaun the Sheep jumper, and hope that you do too. Both my older kids were fascinated by the fluffy yarn, and have each asked me to knit something init for them, so I may be revisiting King Cole Tufty in the future...

If you haven't worked with fluffy yarn before and are unsure where to begin, I've put together some helpful hints in a blog post that will go live early next week.

Want to knit your own Shaun the Sheep jumper? The pattern can be found in issue 102 of Knit Now Magazine, which is in UK shops now. Alternatively you can get a print copy delivered to your door, or purchase the digital edition.


All images copyright Practical Publishing.

*Affiliate link.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The Marathon Sock KAL 2019: coming soon...

You may remember that last year, I hosted the Marathon Sock KAL - a KAL that involved a collective effort to knit a marathon's worth of yarn.* Well, it will be back this year!


Rather than start the KAL alongside the London Marathon, which was the original inspiration for the KAL, the KAL will start on July 1st 2019, and run through the summer (prime sock-knitting season) or until we have knitted the full 26 miles of yarn.

Do I have to knit the full 26 miles by myself? No, of course not! All you have to do is knit a pair of adult-sized socks, and add a photo of them to the finished object thread when they're done, noting the amount of yarn used. I'll add up all the yarn lengths from each entry, and we should quite quickly have knitted a marathon's worth of yarn.

I've opened a chatter thread in my Ravelry group, where you can start chatting about your plans for the KAL.

Until then, happy knitting.

********

Aim
Knit a Marathon's worth of socks: 26.219 miles of sock yarn converted into socks.

Rules
  • Socks be cast-on on or after July 1st 2019
  • Socks can be knitted or crocheted in any yarn weight
  • All socks must have a proper heel (no yoga or tube socks)
  • The KAL will close once the full 26 miles of yarn have been knitted
  • You must post a photo of your pair of socks to the KAL FO thread, including the exact number of metres of yarn you used (to the nearest metre)
  • I'll keep a running total for the group
  • To be eligible for a prize, you must be a member of the Ravelry group
  • If you're on Instagram, use the hashtag #marathonsockkal2019


Prizes
  • One prize drawn from #marathonsockkal2019 on Instagram
  • One prize drawn from the chatter thread
  • One prize drawn from the FO thread

*26.219 miles = 42 195 m; each of my pairs of socks uses approximately 300 m of yarn (assuming sock weight yarn at 400 m per 100 g)

Saturday, 4 May 2019

New design: Palm-tastic Pillow

I have a new pattern to share with you today, and this one is full-on summer!


Fancy adding a taste of the tropics to your living room? Then this is the project for you! The Palm-tastic Pillow features a large, bold palm leaf design, and will have you dreaming of exotic locations from the comfort of your own sofa.


The pillow is knitted flat as a single strip with ribbed sections at either end; the strip is folded back on itself and seamed to create a simple pillow cover that is fastened with buttons. The palm motif is incorporated using the intarsia technique. I knitted the sample in Paintbox Yarns Wool Mix Aran* (50% Wool, 50% Acrylic; 196 yards [180 meters]/100 grams) in shades 849 Candyfloss Pink (MC, 3 balls) and 830 Evergreen (CC, 1 ball).** The pillow outer fits an 18 inch square pillow form.


The Palm-tastic Pillow is available in the June issue of I Like Knitting magazine,which is available now. I Like Knitting is an e-magazine, which is available via a subscription model. Full details can be found here.*


Want add the pattern to your Ravelry favourites or queue? You can find the pattern page here.

*Affiliate link.
**Yarn kindly supplied by Love Knitting.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

All about the socks (Yarn Along: May 2019)

Hello May! Where did a third of a year go? I have no idea, but somehow we're here.

I am in the midst of the magnificent sock-kick. I cast off a DK-weight pair earlier in the week, and have made significant progress on two 4-ply pairs since then: The Battle of Winterfell (Game of Thrones) and Avengers: Endgame both contributed significantly, even though I had to knit in the dark for both. I've also had a poorly baby this week - she's wanted nothing but cuddles on my knee for days - so have been knitting round her. I'm back to work in a couple of weeks, so the sock knitting will slow down significantly, but, until then, you'll probably find me with socks at various stages of completion on the needles.



Alongside the sock knitting, I am reading The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J. Harris. The story is told from the perspective of Jasper, a 13 year old boy with synaethesia, who paints what he hears. Bee Larkham is new to area, and Jasper wants her to be his friend, so he can see the parakeets that live in the trees in her garden; Bee Larkham is missing, and Jasper thinks he killed her... This book is beautifully written, and I can't wait to see how the story is concluded. 


Next on my to-read pile is The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton. I've loved everything previously written by Kate Morton, so I'm really looking forward to reading this one (even though it's massive!).

What are you currently crafting on? Read anything good lately?

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along, a monthly celebration of crafting and reading.

Project details can be found on my Ravelry project pages:

Monday, 15 April 2019

Stepping in to Spring (Yarn Along April 2019)

This month I have been embracing a slower pace of life, partly because it's the school Easter holidays, so I have all three children with me every day for two weeks (which makes it a little harder to get things done), and partly because I am about to enter the final month of maternity leave, so want to make the most of the time I have at home with my still-small baby. I have been enjoying watching Spring emerge, starting with delightful purple crocuses on verges, swiftly followed by bright and bold daffodils everywhere, and now we're moving on to blossom; Spring really is my favourite time of year.*

With so much life stuff happening this month, my knitting has very much taken a back seat. A couple of weeks ago, I spent an afternoon rummaging through the deeper recesses of my stash and found a fair number of unfinished sock projects. Rather than hiding them all back where they came from, I am determined to finish at least a few pairs before casting on any more socks. The current pair that's getting my attention are DK weight, in some stripy Regia yarn; I'm knitting these for my brother as a slightly belated birthday present. Is a work in progress (WIP) still a WIP if you unravel the whole thing and start again? I don't know, but I'm counting this pair as a WIP even though I unravelled them before doing any more knitting as I decided I wanted to knit them from the top down rather than the toe up,** and that they needed a few more stitches.


I have allowed myself a new cast on this month: the Pond Street shawlette, which I bought the kit for at Yarndale in 2017. The shawl uses short rows (one of my favourite techniques) to create a chevron border, then more short rows to make the body of the shawl. The colours in this project are perfect for me: navy, turquoise and deep pink. The yarn (Baa Ram Ewe Titus) does have alpaca in it though, so ultimately I may have to give the shawl away at the end if it turns out to be too itchy against my neck (silly sensitive skin), but I'm enjoying the process so much that I'm fine with that.


One thing I have been enjoying in the past couple of weeks is dedicating some time to reading. I have just finished Notes from a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig, which I bought on a whim from a bestseller-shelf in a supermarket. The book is a collection of Haig's thoughts on mental health in the modern age, interspersed with short narratives about things that have happened to him; it's engagingly written, and made me think a lot about how I, and wider society, use social media in a way that is not necessarily good for us. Throughout the book there are lists about all sorts of topics, and one point on a list about being kinder to yourself was 'Do something in the day that isn't work or duty or internet'; the quote really resonated with me, and reminded me that in spending all our time doing the things we think we have to do, we sometimes lose ourselves along the way.


I've just started reading The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J. Harris. The book is about Jasper, a boy with synaesthesia (Jasper senses the world around him as colours), who has somehow become involved in a police investigation to do with the disappearance of Bee Larkham. I'm two chapters in and definitely hooked!

What have you been reading and crafting on in April? Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

*It's also my birthday this month, which obviously makes Spring even more significant to me.

**I used to knit all my socks from the toe up, but have recently had a change of heart and currently prefer to knit them from the top down.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

How not to finish a jumper (Yarn Along March 2019)

Last month I wrote excitedly about my Edinburgh Yarn Festival jumper - Bright Above Me. After I posted, I sat down and knitted a few more rounds, and with each stitch I fell more and more out of love with the project. I found the combination of increases and long floats really tiring, so I wasn’t picking the project up enough to make any significant progress. There was also the small issue that while I can knit colourwork with a baby on my knee, this colourwork was just too complicated. So I unravelled it, with precisely no regrets.


Once I had unravelled the star jumper, I looked through my Ravelry queue to choose something new to cast on. I knew I wanted to knit a colourwork sweater, ideally from the top-down (I have issues getting the length right when knitting from the bottom up). I had quite a lot of jumpers by Jennifer Steingass in my queue, but my favourite was Starfall, which has a beautiful colourwork yoke that makes me think of jewels. The pattern is written from the bottom-up, and I did briefly consider knitting the jumper as written, before having a revelation: I could cast on the yoke provisionally, then knit the whole yoke before picking up the held stitches and knitting the rest of the jumper from the top down.


A bit of knitting later, I have a completed yoke. It is glorious! I enjoyed the colourwork so much more than the stars, even with the three-colour rounds (those rounds had to wait for uninterrupted knitting time - I couldn’t do them while feeding the baby). I’ve also realised that I much prefer working decreases when knitting colourwork than increases - if I’m working increases I find my floats end up a little tight.


While I won’t be wearing my jumper at Edinburgh this weekend,* I hope to have the yoke back on the needles by then, ready to work the body and sleeves. If I’m really organised I might be on the body, ready for some mindless stocking stitch rounds on the train journey.

I’ve dedicated more time than usual to reading this month. Partly for a rest, and partly because I’ve really enjoyed the book I’ve just finished: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. This is a beautifully written autobiography, written by a self-confessed party girl, covering her years of partying, then her years recovering (she’s only 30 now), all within the framework of ‘love’. I don’t have a lot in common with Dolly (we’re both tall, and some aspects of her struggle with being seen as different as a child and teenager resonated), but I loved her writing style, and her depictions of non-romantic love were very emotive at times. Definitely worth a read.


Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along, a monthly crafting and reading link-up.

*I’ll be there on Saturday. Say hello if you see me.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Lots of Socks KAL update!

Thank you to everyone who bought patterns last month on my Lots of Socks sale day. All proceeds from sales of my sock patterns on that day were donated to Down Syndrome International, and we raised a phenomenal £710! Between all the designers, we were able to donate $18,175.67 directly to Down Syndrome International, which is just staggering.


The Lots of Socks KAL runs in the Paper Daisy Creations Ravelry group until March 21st, which is this Thursday, so don't forget to finish off your socks and post a photo of them to the finished objects thread.* I've finshed one pair of socks and three lone ones, so shall be posting them to the thread once I've published this post!


Don't forget to wear your mismatched socks on March 21st (World Down Syndrome Day) to help raise awareness about Down Syndrome. Follow this link for more information.

*Ravelry link. You'll need to be logged in to follow this link. Membership is free.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Another chance to get your hands on my Sooty children's jumper pattern!

I'm sure many of you recognise Sooty, the distinctive yellow hand puppet who has starred in various incarnations of his own show over many years (apparently he first appeared on TV in 1952!). Several years ago, I was asked by Knit Now magazine to create a children's jumper pattern featuring the character, and the pattern appeared in the Baby Knits supplement included with issue 57. Obviously, that was quite a long time ago (February 2016), but if you missed the pattern then, you have another chance to get your hands on a copy as the pattern has been republished in Issue 99 of Knit Now, which is on sale now.


The jumper is knitted flat and seamed, with the Sooty motif knitted in to the front using the intarsia technique. There are quite a lot of fine details in the picture, and I added a lot of these at the end using duplicate stitch, so feel free to combine intarsia and embroidery if that makes it easier for you to work. The collar is knitted in the round at the end after the jumper has been seamed.

The pattern is written for 4 sizes: 2, 4, 6 and 8 years, with finished chest sizes of 60, 68, 72 and 74 cm. I recommend choosing a size approximately 7.5 cm larger than the recipient's chest measurement.

The original sample is knitted in Sublime Extra Fine Merino Wool DK,* which is lovely and soft and real treat to work with. If you fancy using something a little more budget-friendly, why not try Stylecraft Special DK,* or Paintbox Yarns Simply DK,* both of which are 100% acrylic and come in a fabulous array of colours. You'll only need very small amounts of the contrast colours, so this could be an excellent opportunity to use up some of those oddments of yarn you might have lying around.


Want to get your hands on a copy of the pattern? You'll need to pick up a copy of Knit Now issue 99, which is available now in the UK, or can be ordered online via the More Mags website. The pattern is also avaiable in digital copies of the magazine.

*Affiliate link.

Images copyright Practical Publishing.