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.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

#showoffyourwoollysocks2020 Days 8-14

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 (vikkibirddesigns.com), 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 2: Days 8-14

Day 8
: My socks for Day 8 are a relatively new addition to my sock drawer as I knitted them for #marathonsockkal2020 They’re knitted in Knit Picks Felici in the colourway Playhouse. I love Felici yarn, and before it was available in the UK, it was something of a mythical sock yarn - soft, stripey, affordable. It definitely lives up to the hype, and I now have quite a collection of Felici sock yarn, and socks made from it!

Day 9: This pair of socks is made from more Knit Picks Felici, this time in the colourway Captain Nero. I’ve shared these quite a few times and they always get a good reception. These socks were a little Heath Robinson: I was adding a heel while out and about, and failed to take scissors or a sewing needle out with me. I somehow got by doing Kitchener stitch with my needles, and using a fork to saw through the yarn end. What’s your most creative knitting improvisation?

Day 10: The socks for day 10 of #showoffyourwoollysocks2020 are gorgeously festive, and yes, I do wear them all year 😊 They’re knitted toe up with a heel flap and gusset, with a contrast heel. The yarn was West Yorkshire Spinners first Christmas special yarn and I love it. I wasn’t sure about it in the ball, but they are some of my favourite socks! I accidentally knitted the second sock on a different size needle to the first, and only noticed somewhere near the heel, so had to start again. It happens - fortunately you can always unravel and start again. Would you have unwound and reknitted, or just shrugged and had a second sock that wasn’t quite the same? I’m more likely to leave a mistake in now than 5 years ago - mistakes add character!

Day 11: Day 11’s socks were bright socks for a gloomy morning. These socks are knitted in an Easter sock set from Cuddlebums Yarn. I love how the yarn knitted as micro-stripes. This pair is another with a Fish Lips Kiss heel, which is a great choice if you’re a bit short on yarn - I knitted these toe-up two at a time to maximise yarn usage - there’s nothing worse than running out of yarn halfway through the second toe! I keep going back to Cuddlebums Yarn - I love her rainbows and general bright colour sense. Do you have a dyer you keep going back to?

Day 12: My socks for Day 12 of #showoffyourwoollysocks2020 is one of my designs! These are the Effie socks, inspired by midnight feasts in vintage boarding school books – I wore them all day with the frills peeping over the tops of my boots. You can find the pattern for these (and many other socks!) on PayHip, Ravelry and LoveCrafts

Day 13: Friday was stripes and spots day at school, so for day 13 of #showoffyourwoollysocks2020, I opted for some stripey socks. These socks were knitted in the spring, in some yarn that I was saving for the season - the colourway is called 'Daoffodils', and I think the colours are perfect.⁠ The yarn is by Strawberry Fields Yarns, and the contrast is some ancient yarn from Artesano.

Day 14: These socks are my advent socks from a few years ago. Every day in the run up to Christmas, I opened a little package of yarn and added another stripe to my socks. I will confess that I was very selective about which yarns I added, because I don’t personally like crazy clashing socks. I’m glad I was selective because I love these and wear them a lot. I chose West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Milk Bottle for the main colour, which is a great neutral.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

#soywskal2020: Knit yourself some socks this November!

Did you know that as part of #showoffyourwoollysocks2020 I’m also hosting the #soywskal2020?

Over the course of November, I would love everyone to knit a new pair of socks for themselves and wear them on November 30th! This is a gift-knitting free zone! The KAL is taking place on Instagram using the hashtag #soywskal2020, and works in progress are allowed if that increases your chances of having a finished pair of socks by November 30th – this is your chance to finish that pair of socks that started earlier in the year, then put to one side and forgot about!

Want to see my socks for the KAL? Here you go!


I bought this sock yarn earlier in the year. It’s dyed by Stripey Cat Yarns, who sells a fabulous array of hand-dyed self-striping yarns. This yarn is inspired by the cover of the UK edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and the colours are beautifully autumnal. The yarn is 100% Blue Faced Leicester, a base that is new to me, and feels amazing. Blue Faced Leicester is a long-staple yarn, which resists wear well and is perfect for socks, even without nylon. The high twist increases the wear-resistance, so these socks should wear really well! 

I was hoping to have completed the heel by now, and while I haven’t knitted the heel yet, I’m not far off, so I think I should be able to finish the first sock by the middle of the month, which will put me on course for having a whole pair of socks by the end of November. I’m planning a Fish Lips Kiss Heel, which is worked without a gusset, so maintains the stripe sequence perfectly.

Project bag made by me; Self-isolation knitting club patch by ErisApple

What are you knitting for #soywskal2020? Are you finishing a WIP, or did you cast on something new? I would love to see your sock progress!

Monday, 9 November 2020

#showoffyourwoollysocks2020 Days 1-7

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 (vikkibirddesigns.com), 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 1: Days 1-7

Day 1: The first pair of socks for #showoffyourwoollysocks are knitted in Knit Picks Felici in the colourway Countess, which I hoarded for ages as purple is my favourite colour. They’re a straightforward top-down vanilla sock with a heel flap and gusset, which is my favourite type of top-down construction.

Day 2: These are a fine example of Christmas socks for everyday wear! The yarn is by Unbelievawool and was from a Christmas yarn club box. The colours are pretty muted (but may well have been brighter when I knitted them), but have a festive air. I cast these on on an October 1st for a #festivesockalong, but got distracted and finished them in the January! This happens a lot! The socks have a Fish Lips Kiss, which is a nice neat short row heel. It’s a good heel to choose if you’re tight on yarn, but isn’t so good if you have very high insteps. The yarn isn’t self-striping, it has micro stripes caused by the repeat length of the variegated yarn - a short row type heel helps preserve that.


Day 3: Day 3’s socks are accidentally inspired by Liquorice Allsorts! I knitted them as a sock tube and planned to add pink heels, toes and cuffs, but then happened to be eating the sweets while working on the tube and realised that Liquorice Allsorts colours would be much more fun! The main yarn is by Paintbox Yarns (gifted - if you want some, it’s Paintbox Yarns Socks*); the heels, toes and cuffs are miscellaneous scraps.


Day 4: My socks for Day 4 are lovely cheerful ones that make me think of cake. I knitted them using Kate Atherley’s free Basic Ribbed Socks pattern during #lotsofsockskal a couple of years ago. They’re knitted in King Cole Zig Zag, which is one of my favourite basic sock yarns - it’s cheap and cheerful and wears really well. It also feels nice and plump. The yarn was gifted to me by my friend Rachel for a knitting secret Santa (clearly not a very secret one!). So many connections in one little pair of socks.


Day 5: The fifth pair of socks for the month is my Siren Song Socks. These are one of my designs, and that little slipped stitch cable shows up so well against any yarn background. The yarn is by Phileas Yarns, and I bought it Joeli’s yarn retreat in Manchester a few years ago, where I met lots of fabulous knitting friends. If you want to knit your own pair, you can find the pattern in my Ravelry and PayHip stores.


Day 6: My socks for Day 6 are possibly one of my favourite pairs: they are knitted in Opal with glitter. I love how sparkly they are! I bought the yarn at the British Wool Show and knitted it while on my way to EYF in 2018. I knitted further than I planned, and had to do afterthought heels as it was that or pull the knitting back!


Day 7: These beauties were a prototype for my Siren Song Socks - they’re knitted in yarn from Unbelievawool and it contains cashmere, so is super cosy. The yarn was very much a ‘golden skein’ - one I kept hold of for ages before knitting it up because I was afraid I wouldn’t do it justice. I love these socks, so I think I did!

*Affiliate link.