Tuesday 23 June 2020

Palm-tastic cushion cover: available now in my Ravelry and LoveCrafts stores!

Fancy adding a little touch of the tropics to your living room? Look no further with this bold palm-frond intarsia cushion cover!

The Palm-tastic Cushion Cover is knitted in a single strip, starting with a ribbed section, then a stocking stitch panel for the back; the front is knitted in stocking stitch with the palm-frond motif incorporated using the intarsia technique. Finally, the back is knitted, finished with a ribbed section featuring buttonholes to fasten the cushion cover. The side seams are joined using mattress stitch.

This pattern includes both written and charted instructions for the palm-frond motif (Ravelry and LoveCrafts versions only - the I Like Knitting pattern features a chart only).

Image copyright I Like Knitting

One size: 43.5 cm x 43 cm (17.25 in square)

Flat knitting:
18 sts and 25 rows = 10 cm (4 in) in stocking stitch worked flat on 5 mm (US 8) needles after wet blocking, or size needed to obtain correct tension.

Aran-weight yarn in the following colours and amounts:
  • MC (pale pink): 405 m (445 yds)
  • CC (green): 145 m (160 yds)
  • 5 mm (US 8) straight needles
  • Tapestry needle
  • Buttons x 5, 25 mm (1 in)
  • Bobbins for holding the different yarn colours during colourwork
  • Chart row marker
  • Removable stitch markers x 4
  • 45 cm (18 in) square cushion pad
Pattern notes
The sample is knitted in Paintbox Yarns Wool Mix Aran* [aran, 180 m (196 yds) per 100 g ball, 50% wool, 50% acrylic] in 849 Candyfloss Pink (MC) and 830 Evergreen (CC).

This pattern was first published as Palm-tastic Pillow in I Like Knitting, June 2019.

This pattern was tech edited by Jo Torr.

*Affiliate link.

Friday 12 June 2020

Yarn review: Milla Mia Naturally Soft Sock

A few months ago, the lovely people at LoveCrafts* launched a new sock yarn: MillaMia Naturally Soft Sock.* I am a huge fan of MillaMia's yarn range - their Naturally Soft Aran* is a particular favourite: it's really soft, lovely to work with, and the garments I have made using it for my children have worn beautifully - so I was really excited to try out this new yarn.

MillaMia Naturally Soft Sock* is a 75% wool, 25% polyamide sock yarn, which is my favourite blend for making socks: the wool makes the yarn warm but breathable, while the polyamide (a plastic) adds strength to make the yarn hard-wearing. The yarn has a great handle: it's slightly crisp to the touch, rather than the soft that the name suggests, but that makes it great for colourwork as the strands stay where you put them. MillaMia Naturally Soft Sock comes in 50 g balls, which also makes it perfect for colourwork as you can buy a few colours without having to worry about what to do with the rest of a 100 g ball; this ball size is also perfect for heels, toes and cuffs - I often find that a 20 g mini skein is not quite enough for heels, toes and cuffs, while 25 g is plenty, so a 50 g ball will allow you to knit heels, toes and cuffs for two full pairs of socks.

I love that this yarn comes pre-wounds as balls that are ready to knit from - getting the swift and ball winder out often seems like a lot of effort, especially if you only want to wind 50 g of yarn - so this yarn is ready to knit as soon as you receive it.

The colour pallete for MillaMia Naturally Soft Sock* is lovely: there are 20 colours available and I think any two colours would make a great pairing. The darker colours are bold without being too bright, and there are plenty of neutrals to choose from. I knitted socks in the Laurel colouray, a lovely dusty pale green, and while the yarn looks like a solid-colour in the ball, it actually has a very gentle heather to it, which was a pleasant surprise.

The yarn was good to work with, and withstood tinking and reknitting well. I did have an underspun area in one ball that I had to snip out, but it wasn't a very long section, and the problem was easily remedied with just a couple of extra ends to darn in.

In terms of wear, this yarn feels hard-wearing. I would not describe the yarn as super-soft, but I prefer something a little sturdier for socks, so the firmer handle is a definite plus. The socks I made have been worn a few times with no obvious signs of wear.

I would defintiely use this yarn again: the colour palette is lovely; the yarn feels like it will withstand long-term wear, and the 50 g balls make it ideal for colourwork, or heels, toes and cuffs. In addition, the yarn has an OEKO-TEX 100 certification, which means it doesn't contain any harmful chemicals, which is good news for the environment and the crafter.

The yarn was provided by LoveCrafts* for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Want to knit the socks shown? The pattern is Hiding in the Bamboo, which you can find in my Ravelry store.

*Affiliate link.

Sunday 7 June 2020

A stash reassessment

I have a blanket on my bed that my mum and I made together around 15 years ago. It's made from an assortment of aran-weight yarn, chunky-weight yarn and DK-weight yarn held double. The blanket has been in constant use for all of those 15 years, and is definitely on its last legs. As with all the best knitted objects, this blanket contains a lot of precious memories: making it with my mum and my mum cursing me for making the blocks in lots of different sizes so we had to do a proper crazy-paving job to get all the squares to join together at the end (the blanket has four edges; they're all different lengths); me knitting my way through a stitch dictionary one summer, trying out all the different stitches and learning how cables and lace worked; being curled up next to my bedroom window in one of my old houses wrapped in the blanket while watching the waves crashing on the seafront; innumerable blanket forts and tents made by me and the kids. But all good things must come to an end: this blanket has been heavily patched and repaired, and probably only has another couple of years of life left in it, so it's time to start thinking about a new blanket.

The old blanket has seen better days

I had been deliberating about what to make as a replacement for this blanket. I contemplated a crochet granny stripe blanket made from sock leftovers, but realise based on the progress I've made on my mitred-square blanket that a fingering weight blanket might take me *forever*, so something heavier weight is in order. I have various DK weight oddments lying around from all sorts of projects, but quite fancy something with a unifying theme. I've also realised that large blankets hold together better if they are crocheted than if they are knitted: my husband has a crocheted blanket I made him that is holding up much better than my knitted one.

A few weeks ago I realised that I had the solution in my stash (as ever...). When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, my siblings bought me the yarn for an amazing Mr Men blanket that I was going to make for my daughter. I didn't even start the blanket before she was born, let alone finish it. Now the blanket has one square, and that's not even square. I hate reading charts for corner to corner crochet, so I made one block and abandoned the project.

Mr Happy? More like Mr Wonky!

The Mr Men blanket was designed with a white background, then lots of single balls in *all the colours* to make the characters. This means that upstairs I have a massive bag of brightly coloured yarn and about the same amount of white yarn. It's all the same base (Stylecraft Special DK) and would be much happier being a blanket than living in my wardrobe unloved. Last year I made a crocheted blanket for Madeleine of Kingfisher Knits when her son was born. I used the Solid Granny Square pattern by Sandra Paul and joined the squares together using the join as you go method from her Battenberg blanket. Of the things I really liked about making the blanket was that I could make a massive pile containing half the squares, then join them all together while making the other half of the squares. So that is my plan for the new blanket!

All the colours

Do you have a favourite crochet blanket pattern that you go back to time and time again?

Square one

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Yarn Along: 3rd June 2020: Daffodil stripes

Ooh, June already, no idea how that happened. We've been in lockdown since mid-March, and while lockdown has eased somewhat, I still have all three kids at home, and no longer have any concept of time!

Spring has been glorious: bright sunny days interspersed with more of the same. We've made the most of having a garden, even though it took until last week to finally get round to planting the seeds I bought in March... The sunny spring followed the wettest February on record, so who knows what the summer will hold. We're three days into June, the rain started last night, and it looks like it'll be here for the next couple of weeks at least. Somewhat illadvisedly, I planted those seeds in pots without drainage holes, so I've put them under a waterproof parasol and we'll be checking on them and watering them every day.

Crafting has followed a quick-quick-slow pattern over lockdown. I started well, powering through sewing projects in the first week or so, then slowed dramatically as the kids were sent more structured work from school and required more assistance. I've managed to cut out a lot of sewing projects, and really need to dedicate more time to actually sewing them. One other project that distracted me was facemasks: I've made 29 so far, and have distributed them to local friends, as well as using them myself while in shops where I can't guarantee social distancing. I have many more to sew, but they were held up by a delay in a ribbon delivery; I now have ribbon, so this weekend will be spent sewing another batch.

I can't work out what knitting I've done during lockdown: I've definitely done less than usual, but what I have done is larger work projects that I can't share yet, so it's really hard to gauge (work projects are finished, then promptly sent elsewhere for photography). I have made lamentable progress on socks: they're my out and about project usually, and we haven't had much out and about recently! I did make a pair of socks for my husband's birthday. They're DK weight and went down well - he's requested more, but has a preferecne for 4ply, which take forever for large feet!

My current downtime project is, somewhat predictably, a pair of socks. I decided to cast on some of my precious stash: delightful spring stripes inspired by daffodils. The yarn is dyed by Strawberry Fields Yarns, and I've used some ancient Artesano sock yarn (the company closed several years ago) for the heels, toes and cuffs. I've been working on these socks while on video calls, so opted for a Fish Lips Kiss heel; the sock bit is just knitting round and round with no gusset decreases to get in the way. Recently I'd been knitting self-striping socks as a giant tube, then adding the heels, toes and cuffs at the end, but that makes for very slow progress, and all the fiddly bits happen at once, which isn't always what I want!

In the midst of the recent race demonstrations both in the US and here in the UK, I am finally reading Why I'm no Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I've had this book on my bedside table for ages, but haven't found time to read it. The book covers the black British history and race relations in the UK today. I've lined up a couple of other books about race to read when I've finished reading this one.* I'm also donating 20% of proceeds from my Ravelry store in June to Show Racism the Red Card, a UK-based charity that provides education to combat racism.

Joining in with Ginny for June's Yarn Along.