Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Don't forget your knitting!

Here in England, our lives are slowly returning to something closer to normality than we’ve been living through recently. Most adults have had at least one dose of the vaccine, we can now meet friends outside for a drink, pop to the shop to pick up some non-essential items, and my children are back at school.

Unfortunately, after such a long time being at home, I have forgotten how to prepare to leave the house! I no longer automatically pack a knitting project and a book, just in case, but an incident last week reminded me just how useful these things can be. The COVID-security rules at our local pool during my children’s swimming lessons are pretty comprehensive, and digital devices are not allowed poolside, so I was very relieved that I happened to have grabbed both a book and some knitting as I left the house! While a few of the other adults had a book to read, several were sat twiddling their thumbs, while I happily propped a book on my knee, and read while knitting my sock. Two half-hour sessions of uninterrupted knitting and reading time is my idea of heaven!

 

What projects make good out of the house knitting?

Socks

My go-to grab-and-go knitting project is socks. I always use magic loop, so I don’t have to worry about dropping a needle anywhere and not being able to retrieve it. I tend to limit myself to socks that are knitted from a single ball so there’s no risk of a second ball of yarn trying to escape from my bag!

Vanilla socks (socks with no patterning) are ideal, or simple socks that you’ve memorised the pattern for – I don’t have to look at my phone for the pattern, or wrestle a pile of paper on a too-small chair with no table. I can even knit at the cinema if I stick to afterthought heel socks! I can knit away without having to stop to add the heel – I usually have a pair of afterthought heel socks in self-striping yarn on the go for moments when I don’t want to have to concentrate.

Best of all, because socks don’t usually require more than one ball of yarn, I don’t have to take out a bigger bag just to fit my knitting in, and after many years of carrying a changing bag round with me, I am very grateful that I can now fit everything I need in a shoulder bag!

 

Sweater backs and sleeves

When I am knitting intarsia sweaters, I don’t ever take the intarsia portion out of the house with me. I love intarsia, but the bobbins don’t fit neatly in a bag, and one will always run out at the wrong moment. I do take the other parts of the sweaters out with me to work on when I’m out and about though. Sweater backs are the most straightforward part to work on, especially if they don’t have any shaping, but sleeves also work well. I do find that bits of sweaters fit better in my bag if I work them on circular needles – just use the tips to work back and forth as you would on straight needles. You can fold the cable in half when you pack up and the project will fit in your bag more easily. Using circular needles also avoids elbowing the person sitting next to you!


How can I keep my project safe?

I keep all my projects in individual project bags. I like bags that seal either with a drawstring or a zip so the project is kept clean while it’s in my bag. My favourite out and about bags are those where the top can be folded down so the yarn can sit in its makeshift yarn bowl without escaping across the floor, or into a swimming pool or sand pit. I have many project bags, and they are all distinct, so I know which project is in which bag and I can grab it at a moment’s notice. My family are used to me referring to projects in terms such as ‘the sloth one’, even if the project itself has nothing to do with sloths!

When you have to get up, always remember to seal the project into the bag, otherwise you may find that when you next come to work on it, it will have gained something sticky from the bottom of your bag, or snagged on your keys.

Have you had a chance to knit while out and about yet this year? What do you like to work on when you’re out of the house?


Want a new out of the house cast-on?

Need to cast on a new project for out and about knitting? Why not try my Siren Song socks? The pattern is easy to memorise, and only takes a single skein of yarn. Prefer intarsia? The Unicorn of the Sea Sweater (Ravelry link, also available on LoveCrafts – affiliate link) has a plain backs and sleeves that you can knit while you’re out, and you can concentrate on the intarsia portion when you’re home and can safely wrestle some bobbins!


 

Happy knitting!

Vikki


Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Marathon Sock KAL 2021 update: 28 days in!

We've been knitting Marathon socks for almost a month now, and have turned 26160 m of sock yarn into socks! That's 62% of a marathon, and I am very impressed! Thank you so much if you have taken part so far!

So far I have only completed one pair of socks: these are the Hygge Socks by Nordic Stitches (Ravelry link; may cause issues for people with photosensitivity, proceed with caution). I used a speckled yarn by Cuddlebums Yarn and a solid pink by West Yorkshire Spinners. I essentially only used the stitch pattern from the pattern, and added it to my own vanilla sock recipe. If I knitted them again, I would double wrap ever other stitch on Row 2 of the pattern to make the slipped stitches longer as they pulled the patterned panel very tight.

My second entry is well on its way. These socks are basic afterthought heel socks in Knit Picks Felici in the colourway Dark Side. I'm going to add bright pink heels, which I am very excited about. It's a Bank Holiday weekend in England, so fingers crossed I get plenty of knitting time...

*Did you spot the badge in my WIP photo? I've got four of these special-edition badges to give to Marathon Sock KAL winners, so make sure you get your entries in.*

Want to know more about the Marathon Sock KAL? You can find all the details here.

We're a lot closer to the end of the KAL than I anticipated for the end of April, and I anticipate that we will have completed the whole Marathon in the next few weeks. I know that my enthusiasm for KAL projects dips as soon as a KAL has finished, so I'm going to say that any socks entered by the end of May will be included in the prize draw, so make sure you add those socks to the tally! You can find the entry form here.

Keep knitting! Every pair helps!

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Socks of Marathons’ past

I love the Marathon Sock KAL. It’s a highlight of my knitting year – I really like having a little push to do some monogamous knitting and actually work a few pairs of socks up from start to finish without distractions. 



The Marathon Sock KAL has varied in length from year to year, depending how busy people are. In 2018 I knitted a lot of socks because it was too hot to go outside while very pregnant, so I sat on the sofa, knitting socks! 


2019 was quieter – I think I must have been busy with other projects, and a fully-mobile toddler. 2019 was also the quickest year for the Marathon Sock KAL – just 91 days, so I probably had a few projects that didn’t quite make it to the finished pile in time!

2020 was a bumper year for my sock-knitting. I did a lot of sample knitting last summer, and had a bit of a pile of socks to show for it. The Marathon Sock KAL took longer last year – a full 156 days, possibly because of pandemic fatigue – I know I spent a lot of last year staring into space, and far more of it than usual looking after children 24/7!

Fingers crossed this year will be a bumper year – I know lots of you have your needles at the ready. How many pairs are you hoping to finish?

Want to find out more about the Marathon Sock KAL? All the details can be found here.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Do you fancy knitting some socks for charity?

Do you love knitting socks, but are running out of worthy recipients? Have you thought about knitting some socks for charity? I know that lots of my Marathon Sock Knitters* love to knit socks, but only have so many people to give them to, so I have found two charities that are currently collecting socks to donate. You might want to make a pair to consider donating a pair during the Marathon Sock KAL.*

Marie Curie Sock Quest

Image copyright Flower Power Fund

The Marie Curie Sock Quest is back for its fourth outing, after being rudely interrupted by COVID last year. Marie Curie cares for people living with terminal illnesses, and their families. Every year, some patients have to spend Christmas in Marie Curie hospices, and Sock Quest aims to distribute hand-knitted socks to all those patients this Christmas.

All you need to do to join in is to knit a pair of socks: any pattern, any size, and get they to Maire Curie Sock Quest in time for Christmas. One thing to bear in mind is that cancer patients often have slightly swollen feet, so you might want to make the socks a little bit wider than you normally would.

Image copyright Rosie's Moments

There is an official yarn for the Sock Quest: Daffodil Reflection by Rosie’s Moments. The yarn is inspired by daffodils and is a fabulous bright yellow. Even better, £2 from each skein will be donated to Marie Curie, who rely on donations to continue to provide care. If you would rather use your own yarn, or hand-dyed yarn is beyond your means, choose a different yarn that is inspired by daffodils: think lovely spring yellows and oranges and greens.

Socks for WMAS

Image copyright Socks For WMAS

Socks for WMAS is looking for hand-knitted socks to give to the ambulance staff at West Midlands Ambulance Service. There are about 500 staff, which means they need a lot of socks! You can knit the socks in any yarn you like, so this is an excellent excuse to go stash diving! Socks can be any pattern, and in any adult size.

I would rather donate somewhere more local, who should I knit for?

Homeless shelters are always looking for warm clothing to donate to people living on the streets, and there is likely to be one near you. Homeless shelters generally request that socks are knitted in wool/nylon blend, washable yarns, in darker colours. Thicker socks are very welcome because they are important in keeping people’s feet warm.

Image copyright Knit for Peace

Knit For Peace almost always have a request out for hand-knitted socks. Knit for Peace donate socks wherever they are needed, currently mostly in the UK. During the pandemic, the charity have been overwhelmed with donations, so have requested that people hold on to their knitting for a little while so they can get things in order. Keep an eye on their website to see when they are open for donations again.

What size should I knit?

It’s totally up to what size you knit. Most charities request adult sizes, but do note that most of the socks they receive are in smaller adult sizes. If you want your socks to be really well-received, think about knitting a larger size – UK 9 or bigger. 

*Want to know more about the Marathon Sock KAL? You can find all the details here.

Friday, 9 April 2021

New for 2021: Marathon Sock KAL PATCHES!

I don't know about you, but I love a patch! They're perfect for adding to project bags, camp blankets and clothing. So I've teamed up with the fabulous ErisApple to create some super commemorative patches for this year’s Marathon Sock KAL!

The patches feature a sock on the needles, with a yarn ball coming from the stitches, with the slogan 'MARATHON SOCK KAL' above the design and '2021' below. The patches are woven, with a stitched edge, and the design is added in vinyl.

The patches come in four colours: red, green, yellow and blue, and measure 8 cm (3.1 inches) across. Like all the colours? You can choose your favourite, or buy a whole set!

Four cloth patches featuring a sock on knitting needles leading to a ball of yarn and the slogan Marathon Sock KAL 2021

 

Prices

  • 1 patch: £7
  • 2 patches: £13
  • 3 patches: £18.50
  • 4 patches: £23.50

Want more than four patches? Extra patches can be added at a cost of £5 each.


Shipping

Prices include UK shipping. 

 

Non-UK orders

If you are outside the UK and want to place an order, fill in the form to let me know which patches you would like, and I’ll contact you with a quote for shipping.

If you live outside the UK, please be aware that you may be charged VAT and fees on your order when it enters your country. You are responsible for paying these fees.

 

How to order 

  1. Fill in the form to let me know which patches you would like.
  2. I’ll send you an invoice via PayPal with the total of your order (if you are not in the UK, I’ll be in touch about shipping before sending an invoice).
  3. Wait excitedly for your patches to arrive (by the end of May 2021)

Pre-orders close April 30th 2021.

Order your patches here!

Image copyright ErisApple.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

How to calculate how many metres of sock yarn you’ve used

The Marathon Sock KAL is in full swing, and one of things you might be asking yourself is ‘how do I work out how much yarn I’ve used?’ Well I’m here to give you a hand!

You will need:

  • Scales
  • Your yarn details
  • Your finished socks

Step 1: Weigh your socks

The first step is to weigh your socks. To do this, you need a set of digital scales: kitchen scales work fine, or you can use jewellers scales (just make sure the upper limit on them is more than 100 g). Put the socks on the scales and record how many grams the socks weigh (if your scales usually measure in ounces, you’ll have to switch them to grams by pressing the ‘units’ button to switch them to grams).
 

Pair of handknitted socks on a set of digital scales

These socks weigh 78g.

Step 2: Work out how many metres there are in one gram of yarn

To work out how many metres there are per gram of yarn, you need to know how much yarn there is in one ball/skein of your yarn in both metres and grams. This information can be found on the yarn band: this yarn has 400m per 100g skein.

Close up of a handknitted sock and a ball band with details of the yarn used

If the yarn band only gives the length in yards, divide this number by 1.094 – metres are a little bit longer than yards, e.g. 437/1.094 = 399m

To calculate the number of metres per gram, divide the number of metres in the ball by the number of grams in the ball, e.g. 400m/100g = 4m per gram. Take a note of this number.

Step 3: Calculate how many metres you used

Once you know how much your socks weigh, and how many metres there are per gram, simply multiply the number of grams by the number of metres.

e.g. 78g x 4m per g = 312m

And there you have it – your socks used 312m of yarn!

 

What if my socks use more than one yarn?

Pair of stripey handknitted socks with contrast heels, cuffs and toes, next to two half used balls of wool

If you’re making socks using more than one yarn, you’ll have to do a bit of extra work before you start your project. Before you cast on, you need to weigh each of your yarns. I like to write my numbers down in a table like this (usually scribbled on the back of the ball band!):

Colour

Weight at start

Weight at end

Weight of yarn used

Stripey

 103

 40

 63

Blue

 52

 34

 18

 

Notebook with a list of yarn weights, resting on a stripey sock

When you’ve finished knitting your socks, weigh how much of each yarn you have left. Take the smaller number from the larger number, this tells you how much yarn you used.

Once you know how much of each type of yarn you used in grams, you need to convert this to metres as before.

 

There are lots of numbers after the decimal point. Do I need them all?

No! I only measure how much yarn I use to the nearest metre, because it’s hard to measure much more accurately than that – you use a bit for weaving in ends, and for winding to the right point in the colour sequence, and that yarn doesn’t end up in your finished socks!

Now you’re ready to enter your socks into the Marathon Sock KAL! You can find the entry form here.

Want know more about the Marathon Sock KAL? The KAL runs from April 1st 2021 until we have turned 26 miles of sock yarn into socks. You can read all about it in this post!

Sunday, 4 April 2021

All about the frill! The Knickerbocker Glory Jumper

Sometimes patterns are like buses: it’s quiet for ages then several come along at once! I shared my Daisy Chain Blanket pattern with you last week, but it’s not the only pattern I have in issue 127 of Knit Now. Today I get to share the Knickerbocker Glory Jumper with you all!


The Knickerbocker Glory Jumper is all about frivolity and fun, featuring statement frills on the shoulders, this jumper will definitely make you stand out on your Zoom calls.

I named this jumper after the ice cream sundae because the frills remind me of ice cream wafers!

The jumper is knitted from the top down, and is completely seamless. The Back is worked first as far as the armholes, then stitches are picked up and the Left Front worked as far as the neckline. You then work the Right Front to the neckline before joining the Left and Right Fronts to the Armholes. The Body is joined in the round and knitted straight to the waist, which is finished with a twisted rib hem.

The stitches for the Sleeves are picked up around the Armhole, and the Sleeve Caps are shaped with short rows. The sleeves are worked in the round to the twisted rib cuffs. The Frills are worked by picking up stitches on the Upper Front and Upper Back, worked in twisted rib and shaped using short rows. The sts for the Neckband are picked up along the edge of the Neckline and the Neckband is worked in twisted rib.

The jumper is knitted using Rico Essentials Merino DK,* a delightful yarn that is smooth and firm, and shows up the twisted rib detail beautifully. The pattern is written at a slightly looser gauge than is standard for DK weight yarn, which leads to fabulous drape.


The pattern is size-inclusive, with 9 sizes, with chest circumferences ranging from 82 to 162 cm (32-64 in), so you can choose the size that works for you. The top-down construction means it’s easy to customise the sleeves and body to the length that is perfect for you.

Want to cast on? You can buy Knit Now issue 127 in all good supermarkets and newsagents in the UK now, or you can order a copy online at craftstash.co.uk

You can find the Ravelry pattern page for the Knickerbocker Glory Jumper here** – don’t forget to add the pattern to your Ravelry queue and favourites.

*Affiliate link.

**Ravelry link. May cause issues for people with photosensitivity; proceed with caution.

Images copyright Practical Publishing.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Needles at the ready! #MarathonSockKAL2021 starts today!


Ready, steady, GO! The Marathon Sock KAL starts today!

The Marathon Sock KAL is my annual sock-knitting challenge. How long will it take to turn a marathon’s-worth of sock yarn into socks? All you need to do is knit some socks, then register them via the Marathon Google Form.

You can chat via the #MarathonSockKAL2021 hashtag on Instagram, or in my Ravelry group.*

This year we’re starting with a sprint! Can you finish a pair of socks by the end of April 7th? If you can, you’ll be entered into a draw for a bonus prize!


How long will it take us to knit a Marathon this year? For full details, read this blog post.

*Ravelry link. May cause issues for people with photosensitivity.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Can you knit a pair of socks in a week? Introducing Sock Sprint!


Can you knit a pair of socks in a week? Do you fancy giving it a go?

This year I’m planning a sprint start for the Marathon Sock KAL, and I’m going to knit a pair of socks in a week. Well, I’m going to try to at least!

I would love you to join me. All you need to do is cast on a pair of socks on April 1st 2021 and get knitting! You have one week to knit your socks, and everyone who does will be entered into the first prize draw of the Marathon Sock KAL! To enter you need to complete your socks, then register them via the Marathon Sock KAL Google Form.

I’m going to post my sock progress daily on Instagram via @VikkiBirdDesigns using the hashtag #MarathonSockKAL2021 Will you be joining me?

Don’t worry if your socks aren’t done by the 7th – you can roll them into the main Marathon Sock KAL. Haven’t heard about the KAL? You can read all the details here.