Friday 27 November 2020

Want to take care of your floats? Why not try ladderback jacquard!

Have you ever tried to work colourwork in the round, but found that you’ve struggled to maintain your tension when the stretch between areas of the same colour is more than a few stitches? Ladderback Jacquard might be the technique you’re looking for! Rather than catching floats at the back of the knitting, the floats are caught in a separate layer of fabric that sits behind the main layer, so your floats are invisible from the front of the work, even if you’re working a long stretch of one colour.

This tutorial shows you how to use Ladderback Jacquard when working two-colour colourwork in the round, and includes a mini project you can practise the technique on.

Ready? Here’s how to work Ladderback Jacquard.

The tutorial

Before you begin

Look at your chart and work out where to place the ladder stitches.

  • You want 3-5 stitches between the ladders, and if you are working on DPNs or magic loop, it is helpful if you have a ladder stitch at the beginning or end of each needle – this helps you maintain tension at the ‘corners’.
  • The ladders do not have to be evenly spaced, although you might find it easier to keep track of them if they are.



Work as far as the start of the round before the first colourwork round.

Set-up round

On the rnd before the first round of colourwork (in this case, Rnd 1 of the chart), you need to add the ladder stitches as follows:

  1. Using MC, knit to the position of the first ladder stitch (picture 1).
  2. Using CC and starting with the yarn at the back of the work, take the yarn to the front of the work between the needles, then back over the needle to create a yarnover (picture 2). You should bring the CC up from under the MC when making the yarnover.
  3.  Using MC, knit the next stitch, making sure the CC yarnover is trapped by the MC at the back of the work (picture 4).
  4. Using MC, knit to the position of the next ladder stitch (pictures 3 and 4).
  5. Repeat Steps 2-4 until you have reached the end of the round, making sure your tension is even on your MC stitches and that the CC floats are relaxed (pictures 5 and 6).


First colourwork round

  1. Following the chart for the colour changes, knit to the first ladder stitch (picture 1).
  2.  Bring both yarns to the front between the needles (picture 2).
  3.  With just the float colour, purl the ladder stitch through the back of the loop. When you’re purling the float stitches, make sure the non-float yarn is in front of the purled stitch. This will ensure the ladder stitches do not show through at the front (picture 3).
  4.  Take both yarns to the back between the needles (picture 4).
  5.  Following the chart, knit to the next ladder stitch.
  6.  Repeat Steps 2-5 until you have reached the end of the round (pictures 5 and 6).


All further colourwork rounds

  1. Following the chart, knit to the first ladder stitch.
  2. Bring both yarns to the front between the needles.
  3. With just the float colour, purl the ladder stitch. As before, make sure the non-float yarn is in front of the stitch you are purling.
  4.  Take both yarns to the back between the needles.
  5. Following the chart, knit to the next ladder stitch.
  6. Repeat Steps 2-5 until you have reached the end of the round (pictures 1 and 2 show what your work should look like from the front and the back).


Note on the colour of the ladder 

The float colour will not necessarily be consistent up the ’ladder’ – use the ‘float’ yarn, regardless of the colour. In the example, the ladder should be worked in the following colour:

  • Rnd 2: Ladder 1: MC; ladder 2: CC
  •  Rnds 3-8: Ladders 1 and 2: MC
  •  Rnds 9-10: Ladder 1: CC; ladder 2: MC
  •  Rnd 11: Ladders 1 and 2: CC

Ladder 3 is worked in CC throughout.

Where the ladder happens between colour changes in the chart, you should use the colour to the left of the ladder for the ladder, e.g. for the ladder between stitches 7 and 8 in Round 2, you should work the ladder in CC.


Finishing round

The finishing round is worked on the round after the final colourwork round.

  1. Break CC.
  2. Knit to 1 stitch before ladder stitch (picture 1).
  3. Slip the final MC stitch knitwise with yarn in back, slip the ladder stitch knitwise with yarn in back, knit the two slipped stitches together through back of loop (picture 2).
  4. Repeat Steps 2-3 until you have reached the end of the round (picture 3).


Once you have completed the finishing round, all your stitches will be in MC. Continue working in MC alone as directed in the pattern.


Weave in your ends. You can reduce show-through by weaving the ends into the ladder layer.



Ladderback jacquard test piece

You will need:

·        Scraps of yarn in two colours (MC and CC)

o   The yarn should be the same weight, and same composition.

o   A wool or wool blend is ideal for this technique.

o   The yarns should have good contrast so you can see what you’re doing.

·        A long circular needle [at least 80 cm (32 in) in length] for working magic loop, or DPNs in an appropriate size for your yarn:

o   4ply: 3 mm

o   DK: 4 mm

o   Aran: 5 mm

o   Chunky: 6 mm

·        Stitch marker x 1


Using MC, cast on 22 sts. Join in the rnd, taking care not to twist the cast-on edge. Pm to mark beginning of rnd, slip this marker at the end of each rnd.

Rnds 1-2: Using MC, *k1, p1; rep from * to end.

Rnd 3: Using MC, k to end.

Rnd 4: Work the Ladderback Jacquard Set-up round.

Rnds 5-16: Work Heart Chart Rnds 1-12, using Ladderback Jacquard to control the floats.

Rnd 17: Work the Ladderback Jacquard Finishing round.

Rnds 18-19: Using MC, *k1, p1; rep from * to end.

Using MC, cast off all sts loosely in pattern.



Weave in all ends. Stand back and admire!



sts: stitches

rnd(s): round(s)

pm: place marker

k: knit

p: purl

CC: contrast colour

MC: main colour


Thanks for using this Ladderback Jacquard tutorial, I hope you found it helpful. If you did, why not sign up to my newsletter so you can be first to hear about my latest designs, tutorials and craftalongs?

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Wednesday 25 November 2020

#showoffyourwoollysocks2020 Days 15-21

Have you heard of #showoffyourwoollysocks2020? Over on Instagram, I’m showing off my woolly socks every day in November, and I’d love you to join in too! Simply take a photo of the handknitted socks you're wearing every day in November and tell me all about them! Use the hashtag #showoffyourwoollysocks2020 and tag me (@vikkibirddesigns) so I can see them. I cannot wait to have a little tour through your sock drawer!

This year, I'm hosting a knitalong, so that over the course of November, we can all knit a new pair of socks together and wear them on November 30th! The KAL is taking place on Instagram using the hashtag #SOYWSKAL2020, and works in progress will also be allowed if that increases your chances of having a finished pair of socks by November 30th.

Not on Instagram? I’m sharing a summary of my woolly socks once a week on my blog (, and I'll have two threads open in my Ravelry group (Ravelry link - may cause issues for users with photosensitivity; proceed with caution): one for the KAL and one for you to show off your socks of the day.

Week 3: Days 15-21

Day 15
: These are my Hiding in the Bamboo socks. They’re a great vanilla plus pattern - perfect as a second pair of socks, or for when you want a mindless knit. They have a ribbed structure, which means they fit really nicely. If you want to knit your own pair, you can find the pattern in my PayHip, Ravelry* and LoveCrafts stores.

Day 16: Here are my socks for Day 16: these are some of my most cheerful socks, I adore them, even if they are a little worn. They’re made in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in the colourway Rum Paradise. WYS make lots of self-striping colourways. The yarn is great value, and wears really well. I use WYS for most of my gift-socks as it withstands being machine-washed really well.

Day 17: I’ve had to take today’s sock photos on a slightly different background to usual because I wanted to show off the heels as well, and that’s a bit tricky while sat on the sofa or lying on the bed, so this photo was taken sat cross-legged on the floor! Today’s socks are the inverse of yesterday’s - plain main colour, stripey heels, toes and cuffs. I love that they look so different.

Day 18: Today’s Socks of the Day for Day 18 are another pair from the ‘knitted in 2020’ pile. These are my Contorto socks,* and they’re knitted from the toe-up, with lots of little cables to keep them interesting. I used to knit all my socks toe-up, but now knit roughly half top down, mostly because I can do the cast on for top-down without looking, which works better while watching tv!

Day 19: Today’s socks are one of my favourite pairs. They’re knitted in Paintbox Yarns Sock in the colourway Summer Vacation. I love them as they make me think of Doctor Who! This colourway is discontinued as far as I can tell, but the yarn is wearing really well, so I’d definitely use it again (the original ball was gifted to me by LoveCrafts, but I have bought balls since. If you fancy trying the yarn for yourself, while also sending a few pennies my way, why not use my affiliate link:

Day 20: Day 20’s socks are an early pair. My mum bought me this yarn the first Christmas after I started knitting socks and I love it. She wasn’t sure how much I needed, so bought me two balls and the other is still in my stash (it’s an Arne and Carlos Regia, a great workhorse yarn). If you look closely, you might see that these two socks are slightly different colours - one ended up in a wash with the school jumpers a couple of weeks ago, so has a slight red tinge! I do try and wash my socks in pairs, but once in a while one escapes! I reckon they’ll go back to matching again within a wash or two.

Day 21: I was been feeling a bit under the weather over the weekend, so on Saturday my socks only went on at gone 2pm, and only because I *had* to go out. They’re good socks though, Knit Picks Felici in the colourway Time Traveller. Lovely and soft, a hug for my feet. Saturday’s knitting involved my mitred square blanket - nothing complex for an easy day!

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

Tuesday 24 November 2020

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2020

For the past few years, a group of independent knit and crochet designers have joined forces on Ravelry for the Indie Design GAL: a great big knit and crochet along aimed at supporting and promoting the work of independent designers, as well as kickstarting your festive-gift crafting. And the event is back! Starting at 20.00 Tuesday 24th November 2020 (EST, for other time zones, you can use this converter) until the end of the year, the Indie Design GAL group on Ravelry will be a hive of activity.*

The GAL starts with a sale. Every designer participating in the event is offering 25% off a selection of their designs using the code giftalong2020. Simply add the patterns you want to you Ravelry cart, use the code when checking out and get a bargain! To see which patterns a designer has included, head to their designer profile (here's mine as an example) and look for the bundle labelled Gift-A-Long (or similar), this bundle will feature all the patterns the designer has chosen to include in the sale. Do note that you will have to checkout separately for each designer you wish to buy from. The sale lasts until Monday 30th November 2020 at 11:59 pm (US-EST).
If you would like to join in with the GAL, and shop with GAL designers, but would prefer not to use Ravelry, you can find a full list of GAL designers here, including any other places where their patterns are available. All my patterns are available on LoveCrafts, and my newer patterns are available on PayHip (if you want any of my patterns adding to PayHip so you can purchase them from there, let me know and I'll get them added).
The second portion of the GAL is a massive knit and crochet along. Any paid for design** by a participating designer is eligible for inclusion in the craft along, just head to the Ravelry group* and get crafting. If you finish an item before the end of the GAL (23.59 EST, Thursday 31st December 2020), post it to the finished objects thread for the appropriate category and at the end of the GAL, you could win a prize. There will also be plenty of opportunities to join in on Instagram, follow @indiegiftalong for full details.

As well as the sale and knit and crochet along, there are lots of activities taking place in the Ravelry group, including quizzes and games. There is also an Instagram challenge running for the duration of the GAL, with photo prompts for specific days. I'll be taking part in the Instagram challenge, so follow me over there if you would like to see what I'm posting.
I am one of the participating designers in the GAL. You can find my sale bundle on my designer page, and any of my paid for patterns can be knitted as part of the knit and crochet along portion of the event.**
A selection of my patterns that are eligible for the Indie Design GAL 2020
*Ravelry link: may cause issues for people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution. Note that you will have to signed in to Ravelry for these links to work.
**This includes designs published in books and magazines. You can also join in the GAL by knitting a free design by any of the participating designers, but these will not be eligible for prizes.Patterns published in third party publications count as paid for patterns.

Friday 20 November 2020

Ideas for your yarn scraps

Opening a yarn countdown calendar every day leading up to an event can be lots of fun, but what do you do with lots of small amounts of yarn? Here are a few suggestions, and all of them will also work with yarn scraps, which, let’s face it, most knitters have in abundance! If you add a bit to your project every time day, by the day of the big event, you might even have completed your project!

Simple stripey socks 

This is my preferred way to use up scraps. I use a basic vanilla sock pattern, and alternate a main colour with contrasting stripes. I’m not a big fan of clashing colours, and I find that adding a neutral main colour really pulls all the other yarns together. You can use whatever basic sock pattern you like; I usually make a tube and add either an afterthought or Fish Lips Kiss heel.*


Pixel rise socks by Kemper Wray


Pixel rise socks by Kemper Wrap - Image copyright Kemper Wray

A friend has made several pairs of these and they look great, and like they’re a lot of fun to knit! One thing to look out for though is that the colourwork portions will reduce the stretch of the socks, so you’d be wise to go up from your usual sock size.*


Pixel rise cowl by Kemper Wray

Pixel rise cowl by Kepmer Wray - Image copyright Mari Chiba

If you’re concerned about how colourwork socks might fit, or have larger scraps, why not try knitting the cowl version instead?*


Sprocket socks by Megan Nodecker


Sprocket socks by Megan Nodecker - Image copyright Mega Nodecker

These socks were everywhere at the end of 2019 and I think they look great! Again, you might want to go up a size to compensate for the reduced stretch, but these socks are a great way to either use up leftovers, or a mini skein set.*


Mitred square blanket

I’ve had an ongoing mitred square blanket for a few years now. It spends a lot of time in hibernation, but occasionally I pick it up and add a collection of squares – last year I added one square for every day leading up to Christmas. There are loads of patterns, but I used the one by Georgie Nicolson and it’s totally customisable for your yarn weight and the size of size of your scraps. Georgie’s blog post also contains other ideas for making blankets with your yarn scraps.


Granny stripe blanket

Granny stripe blanket by Attic24 - Image copyright Attic24

This one is great if you have lots of tiny scraps – you can add scraps of any length and just keep crocheting. You can even join all your scraps together at the start and make a magic ball! Lucy from Attic24 is my go-to recommendation for new crocheters, and she has a great tutorial for making a granny stripe blanket.


Another crochet option

Battenberg blanket by Sandra Paul - Image copyright Sandra Paul

Like the idea of crochet, but prefer squares to stripes? The Battenberg blanket by Sandra Paul might be the project for you. Made of lots of tiny squares that are joined using neutral squares, this is a good project if you have lots of yarn scraps that are roughly the same size. You don’t have to worry about having to sew all the squares together as the blanket is joined using a join as you go method.


A chunky, scrappy jumper

Metropolis by Tanis Fiber Arts - Image copyright Tanis Fiber Arts

Maybe you want to go the whole hog and make a jumper with your yarn scraps? Tanis Fiber Arts has a free pattern for a top-down chunky weight sweater, and a blog post on how she modified it to use up scraps of yarn. You might want to plan your project out a bit before you start, but this would be a great way to use up lots of scraps or partial skeins!


What are you planning to do with your yarn scraps?

If you want tips on how to make your own yarn advent calendar, why not check out yetserday's blog post?


*Ravelry links may cause issues to people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution.

Thursday 19 November 2020

Make your own yarn advent calendar

Advent calendars are a big thing in the UK: the original advent calendars had you open a door on a cardboard calendar every day in the lead up to Christmas, at some point these were upgraded to cardboard calendars with a  chocolate behind each door, and in the past few years luxury calendars with *anything you like* behind the doors have become really popular! Obviously these countdown calendars are a huge commercial opportunity, but you don’t have to spend a fortune: if you knit a lot, you probably have plenty of yarn scraps lying around, so you can make your own! If you’re bored of your own yarn scraps, you can arrange to swap yarn advents with a friend, so you get to appreciate their leftovers, and yours get a new and appreciative audience.

Countdown calendars aren’t just for advent, you can also use them to countdown to a big birthday, to cheer up a particularly bleak looking month (hi there, February), or to make your yarn scraps look more appealing!

So, how can you make your own yarn advent?

1. Gather your leftovers!

Anything goes for this step! It is sensible though to make sure all your yarn scraps are the same weight, so choose one weight of yarn (e.g. 4ply or DK), and gather all your leftovers of that weight.


2. Make your scraps presentable

If you’re swapping yarn advents with someone else, you’ll want to agree in advance how much yarn you’re going to include in each package: anything 5 g or larger gives you plenty of opportunity to create something sizeable out of your countdown calendar. 5 g balls will make a good-sized pair of socks; 20 g balls will make a decent-sized lap blanket.

If your leftovers are lots of different sizes, you’ll need to wind off a constant amount from each scrap. You can either do this with a set of scales:

  • Wind off what you need into a neat ball
  • Stop when you get to the required amount
  • Snip the yarn and move on to the next yarn

Or go by length:

  • Create a metre-long guide – use a length of yarn, or a strip of cardboard
  • Measure out the desired length of yarn (e.g. if a sock yarn has 400 m per 100 g, 5 g will be (5 g/100 g x 400 m =) 20 m
  • Wind your yarn into neat balls

You can also make your yarns into mini skeins, but it’s a lot of effort, and they’ll need rewinding so you can knit from them, so you may as well save yourself a step!


3. Grab some packaging materials and any extras

You can use anything you like to package your scraps

  • Paper bags
  • Little boxes
  • Wrapping paper scraps
  • Fabric scraps

I used little paper bags for mine (you can order them in bulk cheaply online).

You might want to label your little yarn packages (totally optional if it doesn’t really matter what order they’re opened in). You can do this using pieces of card tied on with string, or stickers. You can buy stickers pre-printed with numbers, but I used some plain stickers, stamped them with festive designs then wrote the numbers on with a marker pen.

A yarn package is always extra nice if it comes with an edible treat, so I bought some chocolate coins and mini chocolate bars to add to my packages (if you’re doing this for someone else, don’t forget to check for allergies).


4. Package your yarn

Wrap your yarn, one parcel per day. Each of my packages contained yarn and one or two sweet treats. I then used my number stickers to seal the packages.



5. Present your yarn advent

To present your yarn advent, you can:

  • Put all your little parcels in a bag
  • Hang your parcels on a string using little pegs
  • Display your packages in a box
  • Put your parcels in the pockets of a fabric advent calendar
  • Buy a refillable advent calendar with doors or drawer and put one parcel in each compartment

If you’re sending your yarn advent to someone, don’t forget to add a little note or card to say hello, and make sure the outer packaging is nice and secure so none of the little parcels escape.


All done! If you want suggestions on what to make with your yarn countdown calendar, stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post, which will feature a host of pattern suggestions.