Thursday 16 December 2021

Book review: Intarsia by Sian Brown

I've got a book review for you today.

Do you fancy having a go at intarsia, but aren’t sure where to start? Intarsia by Sian Brown is here to give you all the help you need.


Who is Sian Brown?

Sian Brown is a knitwear designer who has worked for magazines, yarn companies and publishers.

 

What’s included in the book?

The four chapters cover:

1. The basics of intarsia.

2. Twenty charted motifs.

3. Five projects.

4. How to create your own intarsia designs.

The book covers everything you need to know about intarsia: the first chapter includes all the basics, but also dives deep into when to combine intarsia with stranded colourwork, how to add extra details with embroidery and beads, as well as tips on making your intarsia look its best by using various finishing techniques.

The motifs chapter contains twenty charts, starting with simple one-colour motifs, moving on to more detailed designs that require multiple colour changes. Sian has also included suggestions on what you could use the motifs for, and adds little details to a lot of the designs, such as using beads to add sprinkles to an ice cream cone. There’s a section at the end of the chapter with guidance on how to resize motifs, how to decide where to place motifs on knitwear, and how to work mirror images of the motifs. All the charts are clear and easy to read.

What to know what charts are included? Here you go: simple fish, striped ice lolly, detailed leaf, yellow duck, nautical anchor, simple flower, festive snowman, sailboat, beaded cupcake, striped beach hut, swiss-darned sheet, grey elephant, quilt star, swallow, happy robot, speckled toadstool, robin, tumbling bocks, wise owl, and open flower.

Chapter three gives instructions for five projects you can make with your newly acquired intarsia skills: a cot blanket, pair of fingerless gloves, a wrap, a child’s jumper and an adult’s cardigan. The patterns are complete, and include excellent schematics and making-up instructions.

The final chapter tells you where to start if you want to design your own motifs: from where to find inspiration and how to create your own charts, to how to place motifs. This chapter is full of little extra bits of information, such as how to choose the right yarn for the job. One thing I feel is missing from this chapter is knitters’ chart paper, as while it is noted that knitted stitches are not square, all that charts are drawn on regular chart paper.


Should I buy this book?

This book is a great beginners guide to intarsia, but also includes lots of extras that make it good for intarsia knitters of all skill levels. With clear photos and charts throughout, this book is easy to work from, and its compact size (17.5 x 24 cm) means it’ll fit easily in your knitting bag. Definitely one to pick up if you fancy having a go at intarsia in 2022.

 

Intarsia by Sian Brown is available now.**

 

Intarsia by Sian Brown is published by The Crowood Press, 2021.

Book supplied by the publisher for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


**As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Tuesday 7 December 2021

Chocolate Fudge Socks - available now!

It’s time for a second dive into the DK Selection-Box of Socks: I’ve just added the Chocolate Fudge Socks to the collection!

The Chocolate Fudge Socks are one step up from vanilla: the socks are knitted from the top down with a familiar heel-flap and gusset construction, with the added bonus of a ribbed texture that is really easy to knit – you only work the pattern on every other row, so they’re a great relaxing knit.

I’ve added a bit of interest by making the ribbed pattern flow into the heel, making for a distinctive sock, but don’t worry about it being too complicated – the ribbed pattern is only worked on the right side rows, with purled rows on the wrong side!


These socks are named after the chocolate-coated fudge sweets in a selection box of chocolates: this variety of sweet often has a ridged pattern on the top, which is reflected in the ribbed ridges on the sock. The sweets are a family favourite, popular with both kids and grown-ups. This pattern will be too as it comes in sizes from tiny (9 cm circumference) to tremendous (27.5 cm circumference). This is a pattern for the whole family!

The Chocolate Fudge Socks pattern is available NOW! You can pick up your copy on Ravelry or PayHip.

Fancy a discount? Use the code FUDGE for 15% off (ends 11.59pm GMT, Thursday 16th December 2021).

Want even better value? Why not pick up the DK Selection-Box Of Socks ebook for just £12.99? The ebook will contain 4 patterns – the first two are there already, and the final two will arrive by the end of February.

Monday 6 December 2021

Don't unravel this December

 

Hello December! Hello advent calendars galore! I have three this year: a chocolate one, a marshmallow one, and a scrappy yarn swap one. And I have a self-striping skein. I am totally on board with the chocolate one: chocolate for breakfast is a joy! I’m sure I can find time each day to eat a marshmallow (on a good day, I may even find time to toast it!). But the yarn ones… December is stressful. Everyone (including me!) wants a magical Christmas, but that takes *work*. I’ll be dashing between carol concerts and nativities, organising Santa visits and decorating the tree, sorting presents and writing cards, organising food and baking goodies. On top of the usual laundry, food prep, housework and actual work. Does that leave time for extra advent projects? No. So I’m here to tell you: I find advent overwhelming. If you feel the same, you’re not alone. There will be posts everywhere sharing beautiful advent projects, knitted in order and on the day the advent door was opened, but if you stop for a second, you will know that there are many more advent calendars being opened that aren’t being knitted up *right now*! If your me-time this December is 30 minutes of working on a pre-existing project, or even just staring into space while your cup of coffee goes cold, know it’s not just you. I will love looking at everyone else’s advent projects, but don’t expect me to be wearing brand new scrappy socks on Christmas Day!

 


It can’t just be me. Will you be up to date with your advent calendar on Christmas Day?
 
Hope December doesn't leave you too overwhelmed. Until next time, happy knitting.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2021 is HERE!

 


The Indie Design Gift-A-Long (GAL) is HERE! Starting right now, a group of over 200 independent yarn-craft designers will be helping you to kick-start your festive-gift crafting!


What is the Indie Design Gift-A-Long?

The Indie Design GAL is a great big knit and crochet along aimed at supporting and promoting the work of independent designers, as well as giving you a headstart on your festive-gift crafting.

 

Tell me more...

Starting at 20.00 Tuesday 23rd November 2021 (US-EST, that's NOW!) until the end of the year, the Indie Design GAL group on Ravelry will be a hive of activity.*


I heard something about a sale?
 
The GAL starts with a sale. Every designer participating in the event is offering 25% off a selection of their designs using the code giftalong2021. 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 2021. 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 29th November 2021 at 11:59 pm (US-EST).
 
 
But I don't use Ravelry?
 
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 many of my patterns are available on PayHip.


It's GIFT-A-LONG time!
 
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, Friday 31st December 2021), post it to the finished objects thread for the appropriate category and at the end of the GAL, you could win a prize. There are also plenty of opportunities to join in on Instagram, follow @indiegiftalong for full details.

As well as the sale and craftalong, 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, on both my Instagram accounts: head to @VikkiBirdDesigns if you mostly want to see socks, and @VikkiBirdDesigns_Intarsia if intarsia is more your thing.
 
 
Want to make one of my patterns?
 
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.**

Just some of the patterns in my sale bundle this year!


 
*Ravelry link: may cause issues for people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution. Note that you will have to signed in to Ravelry for some of 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. Paid-for patterns published in third party publications count as paid for patterns.

Monday 15 November 2021

House Elf Socks are HERE!


 ********

Available on:

Ravelry

PayHip

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 Ho, ho, ho... too early? Is there such a thing as too early when it comes to gift knitting? I've got a new pattern for you today that is perfect for gift knitting - the House Elf Socks. They are FESTIVE, and photographing them at the weekend really upped my festive cheer! Keep reading to find out all about them.

I adore Christmas socks. They make me so cheerful, and yes, I have been known to wear them for a pick-me-up at any time of year...

If Christmas socks are your thing too, the House Elf Socks might be just what you're looking for. Knitted from the top down, with simple colourwork and a fun striped pattern, these socks make a great Christmas gift, or a perfect December treat just for you. I'll be wearing mine while I'm wrapping presents on Christmas Eve.

December is often a bit overwhelming, and my gift knitting list is always, erm, optimistic, but the House Elf Socks will give you a fighting chance because they're knitted in aran weight yarn! Yes, these are a quick knit! I have UK size 9-10 feet, and my socks only needed 48 sts, and were only a couple of evenings worth of knitting time. Don't have aran weight sock yarn to hand? You can hold 4ply (standard) sock yarn double, which makes these socks a great stash buster too.

Ready to pick up your copy? Use the code HOUSE ELF for 15% off. Ends 11.59pm GMT, Monday 22nd November 2021.

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Available on:

Ravelry

PayHip

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Thursday 11 November 2021

Advent inspiration

What do you have planned for advent? Every year I see more and more yarn advent calendars, which are a great way to countdown the days to Christmas. But what can you do with the yarn in them? What if they're beyond your budget? What if you already have plenty of yarn? Have no fear, I've got you covered!

 

Pattern inspiration

Do you have a fancy hand-dyed advent calendar and are looking for some pattern inspiration? I wrote a blog post last year with a few suggestions. Why not go and have a look and see if anything sparks your interest.

https://www.vikkibirddesigns.com/2020/11/ideas-for-your-yarn-scraps.html


Want to make your own yarn advent calendar?

Don't have a yarn advent, but do have plenty of yarn scraps? Last year, I made some yarn advent calendars as gifts for friends, and they went down really well.  Maybe you fancy making your yarn scraps look more interesting by turning them into your very own yarn advent calendar? Or you could get together with a friend and do a yarn countdown-calendar swap? Everything you need to know about making a yarn advent calendar can be found on the blog.

https://www.vikkibirddesigns.com/2020/11/make-your-own-yarn-advent-calendar.html


 

Advent calendars not your thing? Maybe you need an advent project?

This year, I'll be knitting myself a pair of socks during advent using some self-striping yarn that will hopefully arrive in time for December 1st. I'm hoping to find half an hour to myself every day to work on the socks, and by Christmas Day I should have a new pair of socks!

These are the socks I knitted during December last year. Yarn is by The Yarn Badger.

 What are your knitting plans for advent?

Sunday 7 November 2021

#ShowOffYourWoollySocks2021 - days 25-31

In October I wore hand-knitted socks (almost) every day, and shared them on my grid. I have a drawer full of amazing socks that are too lovely to hide in my shoes, so I celebrated them! Here are my socks from days 25-31.

Days 25-26

 

When is a pair not a pair? When they’re fraternal! I made these two pairs of socks concurrently many years ago. I knitted the rainbow heels, toes and cuffs pair first, then the full rainbow pair afterwards. I keep meaning to make another set because I love both pairs so much! Maybe with pink or purple as the solid…
I might be a bit quiet this week because it’s half term and I want to spend as much time as possible with my kids. Today’s activity is pumpkin carving. Wish me luck.


Day 27


Trying to escape from autumn today with some super socks in spring colours. Inspired by daffodils, this self-striping yarn from @StrawberryFieldsYarns was a joy to work up, and now it makes me dream of lighter days and spring flowers.


Days 28-29

Yesterday’s socks… might also be today’s socks… the weather is dank and gloomy today, so a sofa day is very tempting!

This is my only pair of scrappy socks, and I still made them match as much as possible by adding a neutral to bring all the colours together! The yarn was from an advent swap a few years ago, and I was very proud of myself for keeping up and getting the socks done for Christmas!


Day 30

Running really low on non-Christmas socks now! These cosy socks are an early pair, knitted in a Regia Arne and Carlos colourway.


Day 31 (part one)

What’s that Vikki, today you’re wearing one sock and it still has stitch markers on it? Well, this is my #SOYWSKAL2021 sock. I did not manage to make a whole pair of socks, because knitting from a sock blank was a learning curve! I knitted this sock much tighter than I usually do (I think there are 40 sts to 10 cm, when there’s usually 32…) because I had to tension the yarn enough to straighten out the kinks. I love how the sock turned out though, so will work on sock two throughout November! Did you finish your socks?


Day 31 (part two)

 

After I failed to finish my #SOYWSKAL2021 socks, I had a deep dive into my sock drawer and found my most seasonally appropriate socks - stripey witch socks! I think these will be perfect for trick or treat with the kids later (and my feet will be warm!). See photo two for some Halloween treats of the edible kind!

Want to see my other #ShowOffYourWoollySocks2021 catch-up threads? You can find them here.