Tuesday, 22 September 2020

#gbboknitalong: Knitalong a Bake Off!

 Hello! I'm popping in today to announce an impromptu knitalong over on Instagram.

The Great British Bake Off starts on Channel 4 this evening, and I am really excited about it - I think it will be an excellent antedote to everything else that's going on at the minute. I discovered this morning that I have both a cake-themed project bag, and some cake-themed yarn, so decided that over the course of Bake Off, I will be turning my yarn into a pair of socks.


Obviously cake is better shared with friends, and the same is true of knitting, so maybe you'd like to join me in a Bake Off knitalong? I'm hosting the knitalong on Instagram, just tag your posts with #gbboknitalong and I'll make sure I check them out. 

I won't be able to watch the Bake Off live every week - sometimes I'll be caught up with other things, so those weeks I'll do my knitting while watching Bake Off on catch-up. If you need to do the same, that's absolutely fine.


I'm casting on a new project for #gbboknitalong, but this is a really informal knitalong, so if you'd prefer to join in with a work in progress, do that instead. The same applies to crochet or any other craft!

Yarn is Birthday Cake Self Striping by Strawberry Fields Yarn; bag is by KnitRunDig.



Marathon Sock KAL UPDATE!

Over in my Ravelry group* we've been knitting socks for the Marathon Sock KAL since May 1st, and we're nearly there! I've just tallied up the socks that have been posted at in the FO thread and we're 78.8% of the way to a full marathon!


There's still plenty of time to join in if you'd like. Here's a reminder of all the details.

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The Marathon Sock KAL - a KAL that involves a collective effort to knit a marathon’s worth of yarn** is back for its third year!

The Marathon Sock KAL started on May 1st 2020 and runs 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 post, 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!

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Aim

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

Rules

  • Socks must be cast-on on or after May 1st 2020
  • 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 socks to the KAL FO thread, including the exact number of metres of yarn you used (to the nearest metre) for your metres to count in the total
  • New for this year: SECOND SOCKS COUNT! You don’t have to knit a full pair of socks, a single sock will count. If you are using a single sock as an entry, please include only the number of metres used to knit that sock
  • I’ll keep a running total for the group
  • To be eligible for a prize on Ravelry, you must be a member of the Ravelry group
  • If you’re on Instagram, use the hashtag #marathonsockkal2020; to be eligible for a prize on Instagram, you must follow @vikkibirddesigns on Instagram
  • Only hand-knitting/crochet will count, not machine knitting. If you have machine-knitted a sock tube and are adding heels/toes/cuffs by hand, the metres you used for the heels/toes/cuffs can be counted towards the total

Prizes

  • One prize drawn from #marathonsockkal2020 on Instagram
  • One prize drawn from the chatter thread
  • One prize drawn from the FO thread (one entry per 100 m of yarn used)
  • One prize drawn from entries in the FO thread that are knitted using a pattern by Vikki Bird Designs (one entry per 100 m of yarn used)

*Ravelry link. May cause issues for people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution.

**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)

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Vikki Makes Things

Hello there Autumn! For the past few weeks, there have been hints of autumn starting to crop up: the odd leaf on the floor, an occasional cooler morning, the evenings drawing in, the kids finally returning to school after many months off. Unfortunately, this year, those signs of autumn have brought with them an increase in cases of Covid, so our region has just gone into a local lockdown. Since the kids had gone back to school, I had been getting used to being able to see friends again, and spending days at the park enjoying the last of the summer's sunshine. The next few weeks promise more time at home again, but with the kids still in school (for the time being at least), which has me somewhat optimistic about the possibility of additional crafting, sewing and baking time!

I seem to have amassed quite a pile of sewing materials over the past few months and years, and I would love to be able to turn all of it into wearable items: last week I stitched a dress for me! I genuinely can't remember the last time I did that. I remembered to make the length adjustments as I went, and the fit is pretty good, so the dress is definitely wearable, which has filled me with a renewed enthusiasm for dressmaking.

Cooler, darker evenings always inspire me to return to the kitchen - there's something so welcoming about filling the house with the aromas of baking, and the kids are always enthusiastic to sample my baked goodies. Great British Bake Off also returns to our screens next week, which never fails to fill me a desire to try out new recipes.


Last year I loved knitting my way through a yarn advent calendar, adding a square to my mitred square blanket every day in the run up to Christmas, and I'm hoping that I might get the blanket out early this year and start adding squares using the leftovers from all the socks I've knitted over the past year or so. The mitred square blanket has got to a scale now where I can't work on it during the warmer months as I have to sit under it to add extra squares!

The past couple of years have seen me add a few knitted garments to my wardrobe - my Lush by Tin Can Knits that I knitted last summer is pefect over a dress with tights and boots, and the Love Note I knitted this summer is similarly versatile. I also have a Pavement sweater that I knitted three years ago that pairs well with jeans and is good for layering. All these knits have given me confidence to keep on knitting garments, so last weekend I cast on a Chuck sweater that I want to have finished by the end of October - it will be a welcome addition to my wardrobe as it is winter-weight without being festive! I own several Christmas jumpers, which get heavy wear in December, then put away for the following 11 months, leaving a gap in my wardrobe in January and February when jumpers are much needed.


Of course, all of these things are projects that I am enthusiastic about, but that definitely can't be defined as 'work', and this is the blog for my business, Vikki Bird Designs. I still want to share all of these makes with you all, but to keep them separate, so this weekend, I finally set up an Instagram account for all my non-work makes: vikkimakesthings In all likelihood, there will be a good mix of baking, sewing, knitting and crochet, plus some other things I haven't thought of yet. If you fancy following, you'd be very welcome.


 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Tiptoe through the leaves: Little Pine Cone Socks

Autumn is here, and I have a new, decidely autumnal, pattern to share with you today, my Little Pine Cone Socks.*

 

These socks are inspired by autumnal walks through the woods, as the leaves are changing colour and crunching underfoot. The socks feature a lace pine-cone motif on the fronts of the socks, leaving the backs of the socks unpatterned, making these a lovely quick knit.

The socks are knitted in Needle and Fred BFL Sock in the colourway Marma-lady, a fabulous display of shades of orange. The yarn was a real treat to work with, and the BFL (Blue-faced Lesicester) means these socks will be sturdy as well as soft.

 

The Little Pine Cone Socks are knitted from the toe up, with a heel flap and gusset construction. They come in a whopping EIGHT sizes, so you can make them for the whole family!

Want to get your hands on a copy? The pattern is in Issue 120 of Knit Now magazine, which is available in all good newsagents from September 17th 2020. If you can't get to the shops, you can order a copy online, or buy a digital edition of the magazine.

 

All the details for the pattern can be found on the Ravelry pattern page, which is also where you can go to add the pattern to your favourites or queue.*

 *Ravelry may cause issues for people with photosensitivity. Proceed with caution. 

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All images copyright Knit Now.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

My summer of reading

At the start of the year I started logging what I was reading on Goodreads, and set myself a target to read 20 books in 2020. I used to be an avid reader, but that had dropped by the wayside as life became busier with children, work and general life stuff. I started the year well, then the pandemic hit, and my reading slowed back to almost nothing as I go distracted by what was happening in the news. At some point a few months ago, I made the conscious decision to spend less time scrolling on my phone, and more time reading. At the minute I have four books on the go at a time: one ebook, one paperback, one hardback and one audiobook, which seems to cover all eventualities! I am lucky that I can read at the same time as knit, so if I'm knitting a large stretch of stocking stitch, I'll have a hardback or ebook on the go at the same time. If the knitting is a bit more complicated, I'll listen to an audiobook. The paperback is saved for when I go to bed, so that book will often take me ages to read!

Here's what I've been reading for the past few months.

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Pretending by Holly Bourne


I listened to this on Audible while doing chores and it was fantastic!

Story review:
Holly Bourne has a reputation for tackling challenging issues in a really engaging way, and Pretending is no exception. April has been hurt in a previous relationship and convinced herself that men only want perfect women, women like Gretel, who April creates as an alter ego.

April sets up an online dating profile as Gretel and soon meets someone who seems to really like ‘Gretel’. But is Gretel what men really want? Or is it April?

Bourne investigates how it is possible to recover from an abusive relationship and regain trust in others. This book was sensitively written and offered several interesting points of view.

Audible review:
The narrator has a fantastically charismatic voice that was really engaging. Some of the production was poor, which the odd short repeated section that was distracting. Overall a good listen though. 4.5 stars 
 
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Sunny Side Up: A Story of Kindness and Joy by Susan Calman

I enjoyed Calman’s first book, so picked this up on a whim when I saw it on sale. This book is about finding joy in the little things, and I can definitely get on board with that, but the book was far too long and rambling for my liking, and was mostly directionless. 2.5 stars. 

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman* 

The Thursday Murder Club centres on a luxury retirement home, where a group of residents get together once a week to solve unsolved crimes. One day, a real crime happens in the area and the group set about solving it.

I’m familiar with Richard Osman from Pointless and comedy panel shows, and I feel this book was written in a style that is in keeping with his voice (warm, with wit and sarcasm). The style makes the book a real page-turner, and the characters were all interesting.

I was engaged throughout, and was desperate to know whodunnit! I didn’t predict the final outcome, but it was sufficiently plausible, and overall this was an enjoyable, easy to read, murder mystery. 4 stars.

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I listened to this in the car on a long journey, and it really kept me going.

Where do you go when you die? Maybe you go to The Midnight Library, where every possible life is lined up as books on the shelves. If you open a book, you get to live that life, if you are not disappointed by it, you can stay forever, but if you are, you can go back and choose another life.

Nora hasn’t done well in life, as a child and a teenager, she was full of potential, but none of it came to anything, and after a particularly bad day in her thirties she decides it is time to die. She finds herself in The Midnight Library and is excited to try out some of her new lives.

This book has an interesting idea at its heart: how do each of our decisions change where we end up, and if we could change any one of those decisions, would we be happier? I did, however, work out quite quickly what the final conclusion would be, but that didn’t stop me enjoying the story, however, I feel this is probably a book to read in as few sittings as possible so it doesn’t lose momentum.

Audible note: Carey Mulligan has a gorgeous soft voice. I got annoyed that she didn’t pronounce ‘Marcello’ consistently, she called tacos ‘tar-coes’ and read Caius College phonetically, rather than as ‘Keys College’. 4 stars.

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The Power by Naomi Alderman

The paperback version of this book has been sat on my bedside table for ages, but I didn't get more than a couple of chapters in as the font is tiny! I picked this up on Audible for a long car journey, and got on much better with it.

The idea behind this book is simple: one day women around the world wake up with the ability to create electricty within their bodies and harness this power to their advantage. Men suddenly become  second-class citizens. The book is written as a historical document, telling the story of the origins of The Cataclysm, interspersed with the labels on museum exhibits.

The book is a clear critique of modern society, and was a brilliant listen, even if the histrical document format was a little odd, and I don't think added anything to the story. 4.5 stars.

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Blanket the books are resting on is Fluffy White Clouds by me, available on Ravelry** and LoveCrafts.

*Book supplied for review purposes via NET Galley. All opinions are my own.

**Ravelry may cause issues for people with photosensitivity. Proceed with caution.

Friday, 14 August 2020

The FO reel: April-June 2020

I do a lot of crafting. Sometimes I make things that take a few hours, and some projects take years, but I am definitely guilty of finishing projects, then not thinking of them again, so I thought I'd put together a few finished object (FO) posts showcasing the projects I've finished so far this year. I'm going to focus on my yarn-related projects for the first couple of posts, but there might also be a sewing post if there is enough demand - the Covid lockdown inspired me to get that sewing machine out of the cupboard! This is the April-June 2020 installement, you can find the January-March 2020 installment here.

The FO-reel: April-June 2020

 Rainbow banners - one day all this will pass

Remember April? That strange month when we were indoors all the time. The lockdown has now eased, and it seems surreal to think that we were ever in that deep lockdown. These knits were my antidote to the lockdown: bright rainbow banners to hang in windows and let everyone know that we were still here and that we could make it through.

Ravelry project pages:*

Ravelry pattern page* (at the time of writing, the pattern is only available on Love Crafts, but I will be adding it to all my other places to purchase in the next week or so; Ravelry will list all the places you can get the pattern).

Hiding in the Bamboo socks - perfect for pandas as well as humans!

 I was sent some sock yarn by the lovely people at Love Crafts, and the colour inspired me to knit these socks inspired by bamboo - the colour reminded me of the stalks at our local boanic gardens, where the kids love to play hide and seek. The ribbed textre gives the socks lots of stretch too, which makes for a great fit.

The yarn is MillaMia Naturally Soft sock.**

Ravelry project page: Hiding in the Bamboo*

Want to buy the pattern? You can find it here.*

Easter weekend knit - Sparkle Pony socks

When I first started buying handdyed yarn, I fell in love with Cuddlebums yarn. Cuddlebums specialises in rainbows and I don't think she's ever dyed a colourway I don't like! This yarn was some that I got several years ago, but had never quite made it to the top of the pile. It's sparkly and pastel and rainbow, and I decided to knit it into socks over the Easter weekend.

The pattern is from my head, and I haven't managed to find time to write it up yet, but it's on the list. Hopefully I'll get on to it in the next few weeks.

Ravelry project page: Sparkle Pony socks

Gigantic socks!

My husband really likes hand knit socks, but socks in his size take forever to knit, so don't happen often. When I found this DK weight yarn in my stash, I decided that it would make good socks for him (DK weight = quicker to knit!). I rattled these out pretty quickly as they had roughly the same number of stitches as socks for me. The pair weighs 150 g, which means I should have enough for a second pair if I play around with the stripes...

Ravelry project page: Gigantic socks

Playing with Colourblocking

Image copyright I Like Knitting
 

I've been designing more garments this year, which has been really satsisfying. I'm really pleased with how my Soft Contrast Cardigan (designed for I Like Knitting) turned out. I've bought yarn to make one for myself as I designed it to be exactly the sort of thing I wear - it has pockets for throwing my keys into as I leave the house!

Ravelry project page: Soft Contrast Cardigan*

You can find out all about the pattern here.*

More Black and White - Just Checking In

Image copyright I Like Knitting

 Another pattern for I Like Knitting on the monochrome theme: the Just Checking In socks. These socks were really easy to knit as you add the vertical stripes at the end! So much fun - I think there may be more pairs in the future...

Ravelry project page: Just Checking In socks*

Find out all about the pattern here.*

The 'I meant to finish this in the spring' project - Daffodil socks

I have quite a collection of self-striping yarn, and could probably create my own 'knit through the seasons in stripes' KAL (I might do that next year...). I'd had this ball of yarn for a few years and wanted to knit it up in Spring. I cast these on before Spring, hoping I could wear them by around April 1st when the daffodils were out. Instead they took until June, and only then because I made a concerted effort to finish them one wet weekend. I love them, and can't wait to wear them in the Autumn. Maybe I'll manage a daffodil photo shoot next Spring?

Ravelry project page: Daffodil socks*

While I was finishing up socks... - Halloween socks

 

Speaking of seasonal socks not quite hitting their season: I cast on these Halloween socks in the Autumn. Then lost the project bag in mid-October. The bag finally turned up in a bag of Bags for Life in the Spring, and I got back to the socks in June. I am clearly ready for this Halloween! I knitted these socks as a sock snake (knitting a giant tube, then adding heels, toes and cuffs at the end). I didn't really enjoy the process, so I don't think I'll do it again...

Ravelry project page: Halloween socks*

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The pattern links I have included in this blog post all lead to Ravelry. If you cannot use Ravelry, or would prefer not to, all my patterns can be found on LoveCrafts.**

* Ravelry link. Caution: readers with photosensitivity may be triggered by these pages.
**Affiliate link.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Seed Head socks: buy now and donate to a great cause!

Last month, I unveiled my Seed Head socks,* and have been delighted by their reception! Thank you for every like, favourite and purchase! If you haven't purchased yet, but were planning on doing so, until August 14th, I'll be donating £2 from each sale to the Flower Power Fund, which uses yarny loveliness to raise money for Marie Curie UK, a charity that supports people living with a terminal illness. At the time of writing, sales of my sock pattern have raised just over £200!



The Seed Head socks feature dip stitches that create shapes reminiscent of the seed heads that we see growing in the fields and hedgerows in the UK. The socks incorporate plenty of these dip stitches to create seed heads that sit on either side of a central, cabled stem. The dip stitches have the added advantage of being a lot of fun to knit, and once you have knitted a couple, they get much quicker to work! In case you are unfamiliar with dip stitches, I have included a photo tutorial at the end of the pattern to help you.


The Seed Head socks are knitted from the toe up and I’ve given two options for knitting the heel:
  • A gusset and heel flap construction, shaped with short rows, with a slipped-stitch pattern on the heel flap for reinforcement. The gusset length is affected by your row/round gauge, so a table of gauge-dependent lengths is included to help you achieve the perfect fit.
  • A short row heel.


The pattern includes instructions to knit either fully matching-socks, or mirrored, fraternal socks, and the instructions for the Seed Head pattern are given in both chart and written formats. The pattern is needle-neutral, and the socks can be knitted using DPNs, short circulars, or long circulars using the magic loop technique.

The sample was knitted in Tempo 4ply by Eden Cottage Yarns, who very kindly provided yarn support for the design. The colourway used is Hibiscus, but Eden Cottage Yarns make many beautiful semi-solids that allow any design to sparkle.

From July 15th to August 14th 2020, £2 from each pattern sold will be donated to the Flower Power Fund. You can buy the pattern from my Ravelry* and PayHip stores. The pattern is also available on LoveCrafts.**

Want to see what the Flower Power Fund has planned for the rest of the year? Why not follow them on Instagram?



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Here's everything you need to know about the pattern. If you want to add the pattern to your Ravelry queue or favourites, you can do so via the pattern page* - remember, the more people that buy the pattern, the more we'll raise for the Flower Power Fund!
 
Sizes
A (B, C, D, E, F)

Finished sock foot circumferences: 14 (16.5, 19, 22, 24.5, 27) cm [5.5 (6.5, 7.5, 8.75, 9.75, 10.75) in] designed to fit with 2.5 cm (1 in) negative ease. These are the sizes of the finished socks; for the best fit, choose a size that is approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) smaller than your foot circumference.

The stitch counts for the patterned panel are modified so that the cabled panels are the same width as the stocking stitch sole, this results in the socks fitting the same as a regular stocking stitch socks with a stitch count of 46 (54, 62, 70, 78, 86) sts.

Tension
32 sts x 44 rnds = 10 cm (4 in) in stocking stitch
23 sts = 6.3 cm (2.5 in) in SMALL Flower panel
23 sts = 7.4 cm (2.875 in) in LARGE Flower panel

All st patterns are worked in the rnd on 2.5 mm (US 1.5) needles, or size needed to obtain correct gauge.

Notes are included to adapt the pattern to your rnd gauge.

Yarn
170 (240, 310, 400, 500, 610) m [190 (270, 340, 440, 550, 670) yds] of a dedicated 4 ply sock yarn.

Note that these numbers are for guidance only as the lengths of both the legs and the feet are variable to fit. The short row heel version will use less yarn than the heel flap and gusset version. See pattern notes for further guidance on yarn choice.

Needles
  • 2.5 mm DPNs
  • or a 2.5 mm circular needle at least 80 cm (32 in) in length
  • or a 2.5 mm 20 cm (9 in) circular needle

Notions
  • Stitch markers x 4 (you may wish to use 2 extra markers when you are working the Seed Head sts)
  • 2.5 mm crochet hook, optional
  • Tapestry needle
Pattern notes
The instructions are for the smallest size, with larger sizes in parentheses: A (B, C, D, E, F).

If you have a limited quantity of yarn and you want to ensure you do not run out of yarn for the second sock, first wind the skein into two balls of equal mass, and stop knitting your first sock when your first ball is about to run out.

The socks shown are knitted in Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo 4 ply [4 ply; 100 m (436 yds) per 100 g skein; 75% merino wool, 25% nylon] in the colourway Hibiscus and size D for a UK women’s size 9.5 foot [foot length 27.25 cm (10.75 in)]. The sample socks used 360 m (394 yds) of yarn. Yarn support was provided by Eden Cottage Yarns; you can find all their yarns on their website: https://www.edencottageyarns.co.uk/

I would recommend using a dedicated sock yarn for these socks, either a wool/nylon blend or a high-twist wool yarn.

I have included instructions for both a heel flap and gusset and a short row heel. It is totally up to you which you choose to do, but I find that if you have a high instep, a heel flap and gusset provides a better fit as there is more space in the heel.

Links to the following resources are given at the end of the pattern:
  • Dip stitches
  • Judy's Magic cast-on
  • Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off
  • Wrap and turn
  • Choosing what size socks to knit
This pattern was tech edited by Jo Torr.

*Ravelry link. May affect people with photosensitivity.
**Affiliate link.

Friday, 24 July 2020

The FO-reel! January-March 2020

I do a lot of crafting. Sometimes I make things that take a few hours, and some projects take years, but I am definitely guilty of finishing projects, then not thinking of them again, so I thought I'd put together a few finished object (FO) posts showcasing the projects I've finished so far this year. I'm going to focus on my yarn-related projects for the first couple of posts, but there might also be a sewing post if there is enough demand - the Covid lockdown inspired me to get that sewing machine out of the cupboard!

The FO-reel: January-March 2020

FestiveSockalong 2019 - stripey Christmas socks in January!


I have something of a knitting tradition: I cast on festive socks in November, and finally finish them in January... I'm never sure how that happens, but I am a repeat-offender! These are last year's Christmas socks, knitted in sport-weight yarn (yes, they were heavier-weight socks and I still didn't finish them in time for Christmas!). The yarn (Wollgarnspinnerei Ferner Mally Socks III) was gifted to me by @JinyKnits on Instagram as I saw hers and commented how much I loved them!


Contorto socks - toe-up, cabled beauties!


Next in my pile of FOs is my Contorto socks sample. A lot of my knits are pattern samples, but they are often in my size, so they drift from the pattern pile into my sock drawer. These socks were knitted toe-up and feature lots of lovely cables. They're knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply, which is my go-to sock yarn as it shows off a pattern well, and wears like iron. If you want to make your own Contorto socks, you can find the pattern here.*


Effie socks - Malory Towers vibes


My Effie socks were knitted as part of my Midnight Feasts Collection, which all feature a frill at the base of the cuff for a vintage-vibe. I've been watching the BBC's adaptation of Malory Towers recently, and it's inspired the next couple of designs in the collection, so if frilly socks are your thing, keep your eyes peeled!

These socks are also knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Siganture 4-ply, with Drops Fabel for the cream frill.

If you want to knit your own frilly socks, you can find the ebook and individual patterns here.*


Fluffy White Clouds for a new baby


It's been a while since I knitted a Fluffy White Clouds Blanket. The pattern is one of my best-sellers, and it was lovely to be able to revisit it to knit for my new nephew. I tweaked the clouds a little (mostly through laziness - I only wanted to work on one set of clouds at a time, so I didn't start a new row of colouds until I had finished the last). I still love this pattern as much as when I designed it.

Want to knit your own? You can find the pattern page here.* If you prefer crochet, there's also a crochet version available here.*


Liquorice allsort socks


I was gifted some sock yarn by Paintbox Yarns a while ago, including this fabulous zebra-striping colourway (available here**). I made the socks as a long tube, then added the heels, cuffs and toes at the end. It's not my favourite way of knitting socks, as knitting a really long tube is incredibly boring, so I probably won't be knitting socks that way again, but the finished socks are fabulous. I used scraps for the heels, toes and cuffs, and chose colours that reminded me of liquorice allsorts, which are my favourite sweets. I love these socks now they're finished.


Porteau mitts - everybody needs a pair of mitts


When I went to Yorkshire Yarn Fest in November last year, I cam across Castleview Yarns for the first time. The stall was an absolute treat, with so many amazing rich colourways. I chose DK in Evil Queen to make myself some mitts and I'm so glad I did as I love them, and they have made an excellent replacement for my old mitts that finally disintegrated at the end of last year. The pattern is Porteau by Megan Nodecker.*


Stripe a Pose - for those that like their stripes neon


Here we have the first magazine sample from my FO pile: Stripe a Pose.* This jumper was inspired by all my favourite shop-bought jumpers, which tend to be striped. The jumper was a response to a neons and neutrals call for submission, and while Parchment and Fiesta are not my go-to colours, I love them together (the sample is knitted in Stylecraft Special DK)! The sample is unfortunately not in my size, but I'm hoping to get round to knitting a bigger version for myself soon, probably in a classic Breton colourway. The pattern is published in I Like Knitting magazine; you can find the full details on the Ravelry pattern page.*


********

The pattern links I have included in this blog post all lead to Ravelry. If you cannot use Ravelry, or would prefer not to, all my patterns can be found on LoveCrafts.**

* Ravelry link. Caution: readers with photosensitivity may be triggered by these pages.
**Affiliate link.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Seed Head Socks: raising money for Marie Curie!

A few years ago, Sarah, a doctor at a Marie Curie hospice, launched the Flower Power Fund, which uses yarny loveliness to raise money for Marie Curie UK, a charity that supports people living with a terminal illness. At the end of last year, Sarah asked me if I would design a pattern that could be sold to raise money for the charity, and I was delighted to be able to say yes.

Several months later, I am thrilled to be able to unveil the design: my Seed Head socks.


The Seed Head socks feature dip stitches that create shapes reminiscent of the seed heads that we see growing in the fields and hedgerows in the UK. The socks incorporate plenty of these dip stitches to create seed heads that sit on either side of a central, cabled stem. The dip stitches have the added advantage of being a lot of fun to knit, and once you have knitted a couple, they get much quicker to work! In case you are unfamiliar with dip stitches, I have included a photo tutorial at the end of the pattern to help you.


The Seed Head socks are knitted from the toe up and I’ve given two options for knitting the heel:
  • A gusset and heel flap construction, shaped with short rows, with a slipped-stitch pattern on the heel flap for reinforcement. The gusset length is affected by your row/round gauge, so a table of gauge-dependent lengths is included to help you achieve the perfect fit.
  • A short row heel.


The pattern includes instructions to knit either fully matching-socks, or mirrored, fraternal socks, and the instructions for the Seed Head pattern are given in both chart and written formats. The pattern is needle-neutral, and the socks can be knitted using DPNs, short circulars, or long circulars using the magic loop technique.

The sample was knitted in Tempo 4ply by Eden Cottage Yarns, who very kindly provided yarn support for the design. The colourway used is Hibiscus, but Eden Cottage Yarns make many beautiful semi-solids that allow any design to sparkle.

From July 15th to August 14th 2020, £2 from each pattern sold will be donated to the Flower Power Fund between now and August 14th 2020. You can buy the pattern from my Ravelry and PayHip stores. The pattern is also available on LoveCrafts.*

Want to see what the Flower Power Fund has planned for the rest of the year? Why not follow them on Instagram?



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Here's everything you need to know about the pattern. If you want to add the pattern to your Ravelry queue or favourites, you can do so via the pattern page - remember, the more the pattern is shared, the more we'll raise for the Flower Power Fund!
 
Sizes
A (B, C, D, E, F)

Finished sock foot circumferences: 14 (16.5, 19, 22, 24.5, 27) cm [5.5 (6.5, 7.5, 8.75, 9.75, 10.75) in] designed to fit with 2.5 cm (1 in) negative ease. These are the sizes of the finished socks; for the best fit, choose a size that is approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) smaller than your foot circumference.

The stitch counts for the patterned panel are modified so that the cabled panels are the same width as the stocking stitch sole, this results in the socks fitting the same as a regular stocking stitch socks with a stitch count of 46 (54, 62, 70, 78, 86) sts.

Tension
32 sts x 44 rnds = 10 cm (4 in) in stocking stitch
23 sts = 6.3 cm (2.5 in) in SMALL Flower panel
23 sts = 7.4 cm (2.875 in) in LARGE Flower panel

All st patterns are worked in the rnd on 2.5 mm (US 1.5) needles, or size needed to obtain correct gauge.

Notes are included to adapt the pattern to your rnd gauge.

Yarn
170 (240, 310, 400, 500, 610) m [190 (270, 340, 440, 550, 670) yds] of a dedicated 4 ply sock yarn.

Note that these numbers are for guidance only as the lengths of both the legs and the feet are variable to fit. The short row heel version will use less yarn than the heel flap and gusset version. See pattern notes for further guidance on yarn choice.

Needles
  • 2.5 mm DPNs
  • or a 2.5 mm circular needle at least 80 cm (32 in) in length
  • or a 2.5 mm 20 cm (9 in) circular needle

Notions
  • Stitch markers x 4 (you may wish to use 2 extra markers when you are working the Seed Head sts)
  • 2.5 mm crochet hook, optional
  • Tapestry needle
Pattern notes
The instructions are for the smallest size, with larger sizes in parentheses: A (B, C, D, E, F).

If you have a limited quantity of yarn and you want to ensure you do not run out of yarn for the second sock, first wind the skein into two balls of equal mass, and stop knitting your first sock when your first ball is about to run out.

The socks shown are knitted in Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo 4 ply [4 ply; 100 m (436 yds) per 100 g skein; 75% merino wool, 25% nylon] in the colourway Hibiscus and size D for a UK women’s size 9.5 foot [foot length 27.25 cm (10.75 in)]. The sample socks used 360 m (394 yds) of yarn. Yarn support was provided by Eden Cottage Yarns; you can find all their yarns on their website: https://www.edencottageyarns.co.uk/

I would recommend using a dedicated sock yarn for these socks, either a wool/nylon blend or a high-twist wool yarn.

I have included instructions for both a heel flap and gusset and a short row heel. It is totally up to you which you choose to do, but I find that if you have a high instep, a heel flap and gusset provides a better fit as there is more space in the heel.

Links to the following resources are given at the end of the pattern:
  • Dip stitches
  • Judy's Magic cast-on
  • Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off
  • Wrap and turn
  • Choosing what size socks to knit
This pattern was tech edited by Jo Torr.

*Affiliate link.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Just Checking In Socks



I love playing about with techniques when knitting, and came across this technique for making vertical stripes described in a book and thought I'd give it a go. You knit something with horizontal stripes (easy peasy), but also a ribbed texture, then at the end you use surface crochet or embroidery to add in the vertical stripes. Much easier than intarsia in the round, and the end result is really striking!

I am very much someone who believes that one size does not fit all when it comes to socks, so these socks are written for seven sizes, and you can knit them for the whole family.


The sample is knitted in Drops Fabel, a standard 75% wool, 25% nylon 4 ply sock yarn that is excellent value: knitting even the largest size will cost you under £10.** You can knit these socks in any sock yarn that takes your fancy - I think they'd look great if you used self-striping yarn as the main colour with a high-contrast contrast colour.

You can get the pattern for Just Checking In Socks in the August 2020 issue of I Like Knitting, an ezine that is available via a subscription model. If you would like to support me while you subscribe, please consider using my affiliate link.*


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

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Time: 2 weeks pattern

Skill Level: Easy

Size: Finished Sock Circumference 5.25 (6.25, 7.25, 8.25, 9.25, 10.25, 11.25)”

1” negative ease recommended.

Shown in size 8.25”

Gauge: 32 sts and 44 rounds = 4” [10 cm] in St st after wet blocking

Materials

Yarn: Garnstudio Drops Fabel Uni Colour (75% Wool, 25% Polyamide; 224 yards [205 meters]/50 grams): 100 Off-white (MC, 1 (1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2) balls), 400 Black (CC, 1 (1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2) balls)

Needles: US size 1.5 (2.5 mm) DPNs or circular at least 32” (80 cm) in length or circular 9” (22.5 cm) in length

Notions: Markers (7), tapestry needle, US size 1.5 (2.5 mm) crochet hook (optional)

Pattern Notes

The socks are knitted from the cuff down, starting with a 1 x 1 ribbed cuff in black.

The socks are knitted using a 5-row stripe sequence with purl columns that are surface crocheted or embroidered over at the end to add the vertical stripes.

The socks have a heel-flap and gusset construction with a slipped stitch texture on the heel flap for reinforcement.

The toe is Kitchener-free and is knitted in black.

The socks are knitted from the top down using a standard heel flap and gusset construction. The foot length of the socks is adjustable to fit.

The pattern 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.

*Affiliate link.
**Price correct in July 2020.

All images copyright I Like Knitting.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Soft Contrast Cardigan: perfect for the school run!

I've been busy over the past few months working on secret projects, so it's a delight to finally be able to share one with you!


My Soft Contrast Cardigan* is right up my street: longline cardigans are the perfect casual piece to have on hand for quick trips out of the house or for cozying up with a cup of coffee. I designed the cardigan with the school run in mind - a garment to have to hand when you need to nip out of the house, but it's just too warm to need a coat. This cardigan uses marling for a blocked look that creates a soft contrast between the cream and the black (not tried marling before? It's really easy, you just work with two strands of yarn at the same time to mix the colours up).

If you fancy a brighter look, you could try marling coloured yarns to make a really eye-catching garment.

One other feature this cardigan has is a deal-maker for me: pockets! I love a cardigan with pockets, so had to add some - perfect for carrying your keys and maybe a snack for a quick trip out of the house.


The yarn for the Soft Contrast Cardigan is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply,* whish is my favourite sock yarn. The yarn combines British wool with nylon, perfect for making a garment that is simultaneously warm and breathable, and will stand up to wear and tear.

You can get the pattern for Soft Contrast Cardigan in the August 2020 issue of I Like Knitting, an ezine that is available via a subscription model. If you would like to support me while you subscribe, please consider using my affiliate link.*


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

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Time: 1 month pattern

Skill Level: Intermediate

Size: Finished Bust Size 30.25 (33.75, 38.25, 41.75, 46.25, 49.75, 54.25, 57.75, 62.25, 65.75)” to fit bust 28 (32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60, 64)”

0-2.25” positive ease recommended.

Shown in size 33.75”

Gauge: 18 sts and 25 rows = 4” [10 cm] in St st using yarn held double after wet blocking
Materials

Yarn: West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply (75% Wool, 25% Nylon; 436 yards [400 meters]/100 grams): 010 Milk Bottle (A, 3 (3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5)  balls), 099 Liquorice (B, 3 (3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6) balls)

Needles: US size 8 (5.0 mm) 40” and 16” circular, US size 7 (4.5 mm) DPNs

Notions: Markers (6), removable markers (2), spare needles/waste yarn for holding live sts, spare needle for joining rows of live sts

Pattern Notes
This cardigan is knitted from the top down with set-in sleeves.

Pockets are worked into the fabric of the cardigan towards the hem.

The stitches for the sleeves are picked up around the armholes and the sleeves are knitted down to the cuffs.

The cardigan is finished with an applied i-cord edging that is worked at the end.

The cardigan is knitted using two strands of 4 ply yarn held double, with the top and bottom sections being marled in two strands of the same color and the middle portion being knitted in one strand of each color.

*Affiliate link.

All images copyright I Like Knitting.