Tuesday 12 July 2022

Twisting Pathways Socks

In January 2021, or maybe it was February, certainly in one of the deeper, darker bits of the pandemic, and there was definitely snow on the ground, I got a message out of the blue from Lynne Rowe (The Woolnest), who was in the process of writing a new book about sock knitting and asked if I wanted to contribute a pattern. The timing wasn’t ideal – we were in a period of pandemic-induced home-schooling, and I was really struggling to fit work around the children, but I have followed Lynne for a long time, and as someone who loves books and thrives on deadlines, I found that I couldn’t say no.

The brief was a very specific one: the socks had to be toe-up, cabled and have an afterthought heel. I played around with lots of different ideas: cables large and small, complex and straightforward, before settling on the cable I used in the pattern. I was allowed to choose whatever yarn I wanted for the pattern, so got in contact with Eden Cottage Yarns, whose yarn I had used before for my Seed Head Socks,* and they offered me a skein of Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo in the colourway Misty Woods, a beautiful pale green that really shows off a stitch pattern well.

Skein of Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo in the colourway Misty Woods

This project had quite a tight deadline, which meant I had to work with real focus to get the socks knitted in time. I also had to learn to wrangle the cables in the pattern – there are a few ways to create a three-way cable, and they way you work them does seem to affect the finished look, so I had to make sure I was consistent and that I included instructions that were detailed enough for anyone knitting the pattern to get the finished effect to be just as I had intended. I really wish I had taken a photo of the inside of these socks to show how lovely and flat the cables lie on the wrong side, but that will have to wait until I eventually get the sample back.

Twisting Pathways socks in progress

I called the socks the Twisting Pathways Socks, and love how they turned out. I had just enough time to photograph the socks on blockers before I posted them off to the publisher. Just look at that beautiful stitch pattern!

The finished socks

Want to knit your own Twisting Pathways Socks? The pattern is available now in The Sock Knitting Bible by Lynne Rowe.** The book has also been translated into French, and the Twisting Pathways Socks have made it onto the cover of that edition!

The Sock Knitting Bible

Want to add the pattern to your Ravelry queue? You can find the pattern page here: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/twisting-pathways-socks*

The Twisting Pathways Socks in the book

*Ravelry link. May affect people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution. The Seed Head Socks are also available on PayHip.

**Affiliate link.


Tuesday 5 July 2022

Blocking: a cautionary tale

How do you block your knits? I generally soak them in tap water for about 10-20 minutes (without any detergent), squeeze out any excess water, roll them in a towel to get them a bit drier (I usually stamp on the towel to get them as dry as possible), then lay them out flat to dry. I used to dry them outside on days when the weather was good, but today I'm going to share a cautionary tale about what can happen when you dry your knits in the open air...

A few years ago, I had been working on a Breton-inspired children's jumper and I was really pleased with how it had turned out: fresh and cute, and my daughter loved it, so I was hoping it would get plenty of wear.

As the sun was shining, I soaked the jumper over breakfast, squeezed the excess water out into a towel and laid the jumper out on blocking mats in the garden to dry. I then went out for the day as planned.

When I got home after lunch I went to the garden to pick up the jumper, and was pleased that it was nice and dry. But on closer inspection it wasn't quite the same as when I had left it. The front of the jumper had yellowed slightly. My immediate thoughts were sun damage (which seemed unlikely, while the sun had been hot the jumper had only been out for a few hours), or some sort of dust. I threw the jumper in the washing machine on a wool cycle, hoped for the best, and posted a photo to Instagram in case any one had any useful advice.

A couple of people suggested pollen, which seemed reasonable as the pollen count has been really high that day. I set about using the internet to research ways to get pollen out of clothes, and while there are many, many helpful suggestions, most involve using biological stain removers, which won't work on wool.

When the jumper had finished washing I fished it out of the machine, hoping that it would have returned to its original state. No such luck. I soaked it a couple of times in cold water, to no avail, then squeezed the water out and hung it out (inside, on a clothes rail) to dry, hoping that it would look better when dry.

When my husband got home from work he took a look at the jumper too, and quickly concluded that it was indeed sun damaged. And irretrievable.

I had dried knitwear in the sun many times, and never had any problems, but having done some more research, many yarn companies say not to dry yarn in direct sunlight, but none of them say why. It would appear this is the reason: wool is fragile and scorches easily, so my advice is never to dry knitwear in direct sunlight. And while I'm at it, wear sunscreen; if the sun can do this to yarn, imagine what it can do to your skin.
This happened a few years ago now, and I never dry my knits in direct sunlight any more. They're fine in the shade, but I usually stick to drying them indoors, just in case I forget to move them before the sun moves on to them.
My tale of blocking woe wasn't a complete disaster. While I did knit an entire second sample in a different colourway, I did manage to take some photos of the original sample for the pattern, just don't look too closely or you might see that the jumper features two shades of white! 

Have you ever had any blocking disasters?

Pattern is From Breton with Love, available on Ravelry* and LoveCrafts (affiliate link).


*Ravelry link - may affect people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution.
Note: a version of this blog post was published on this blog in 2017. You can find the original post here.