A year on …

Some of you may remember this post from exactly a year ago all about a trip to the North York Moors, celebrating Halloween and learning to make socks. Back then, I had all but given up on knitting as a possibility. I’d admire other people’s work, sigh, then return to my crochet. One day, however, I walked into my then local wool shop, The Wool Stop and the lovely owner, Jen, was knitting socks in this colourway and I just knew I had to learn to knit socks so that I could use the gorgeous yarns.

I never looked beyond the possibility of knitting socks at all and yet everyone I spoke to said, ” If you can knit socks, you can knit anything” or experienced knitters would say they couldn’t make socks, so I began to wonder. Maybe I could knit something other than socks.

I was very lucky because all along I had so much encouragement from other bloggers and readers of my blog and from Jen at The Wool Stop. It was exciting! I was inspired by ErickaEckles and her knitting journey (read all about it here) and all of the amazing things that she was making and the knitting designers she would refer to. So I asked Jen to give me some knitting lessons to help me get started. She is a great teacher and gave me the confidence to try new techniques like colour work, cables and lace work. I definitely made the most of those lessons once I knew we were moving to Canada!

Which is where I am now. I had no idea that I would be writing this in Chase, BC, when I took that sock lesson. We had applied to move here but it seemed such a distant goal that we never thought about it much. I certainly didn’t think I’d be about to share my most exciting make yet.

Yes, I have completed and blocked and worn for the first time today, my Ishbel shawl and to say I am delighted would be an understatement. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen this hint of the finished product. If you’d like more details about the yarn I used etc, I’ve written it all up in my Ravelry notes. Before I show you a picture, I’d just like to say that this shawl would still be something I dreamt of making, if it hadn’t been for Lisa (erickaeckles) encouraging me to start and for keeping me going along the way. We both started an Ishbel (her second) at the same time and it really helped to have a friend to knit with, even if we were on opposite sides of the planet!).

So, here she is… My Midnight Ishbel

sock yarn ishbel knitted

Ishbel shawl sock yarn one skein

I wasn’t sure about the black yarn at various points during the knitting of the shawl but it isn’t a solid black. There are flecks of grey and white which I love. The points were much pointier when I unpinned it from the blocking mat but over the course of today they have started to curl so I may need to reblock. I’m pleased with the size, less than 100g used.

And because no post would be complete without some outdoor shots, here you go..

Ishbel shawl sock yarn one skein knitted

Ishbel shawl sock yarn one skein knitted

And one that captures the giggling fits I was having whilst my husband tried to take these pictures for me and maybe also how happy I am with my shawl.

Ishbel shawl sock yarn one skein knitted

I wasn’t sure if I would get much wear out of my shawl in the cooler weather as it is a light shawl but we went to Boo at the Zoo tonight for Halloween and it is warm. Yay!

I’m writing this whilst my meringue bones bake in the oven for a Halloween party tomorrow so I’ll sign off as I did a year ago. Time for a glass of wine and wish everyone a Happy Halloween.

x

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The issue of light

When we were in England I had worked out the perfect places to take pictures for my blog posts so that I was happy with the light and back drop. I’m yet to find these places here and it’s frustrating as I really do want my pictures to reflect my projects and me in a positive light.

Maybe this has become more important to me since I joined Instagram (I’m buttercupandbee). The standard on there is so high.

In the meantime, here are some of my current projects.

Hoping this is finished soon so that I can wear it.

Trying to add pattern to my socks.

And you don’t want to know about these yet!

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Spot the difference

I’m knitting another pair of socks (amongst a million other projects) and they are taking ages. Way longer than any other pair of socks I have knitted.

Why? Well I wouldn’t recommend this whilst actually mid-project but I decided to use this pair to try new knitting methods. All in a bid to knit faster. 

I am normally a ‘thrower’ when I knit, which I understand to be a fairly inefficient method. I was knitting fairly quickly but when faced with a whole leg or foot of stocking stitch, I started wondering. Could I speed things up a bit?

I think most knitters ‘flick’, so I started with that. No faster, although if I persevered I’m sure I would master it. 

So I tried ‘continental’. This is the method recommend for crocheters and I immediately liked it for that reason. Way faster.

To give you an idea of the difference in time. I can knit a round in half the time continental style. I can’t purl continental so rib and heel sections take the same time but overall I’ve been able to knock some of the time off.

Great, faster knitting! Yes but now I have a whole new issue to contend with. Tension.

Look at the leg sections below.

The one on the left has been knitted using throwing and the right is continental. Can you see how much looser  (scruffy?) the one on the right is? 

Lay one on the other and it is really obvious. My gauge has completely changed.

Like I said, I changed methods half way through knitting a sock and had to frog it as the difference was so noticeable. Now I’ll have to reknit the one using my original method, so not so fast after all!

Other implications are that the stitches used to stay on my 23cm short circular needles, now they want to spring off all of the time. 

If I’m going to continue to knit continental for the stockinette section of my socks I’m going to have to reconsider the number if stitches I cast on or my needle size. Obvious to an experienced knitter I’m sure but not to a newbie like me!

What type of knitter are you and have you ever tried other methods? I’d be interested to hear.

DK socks and a spot of hand dyeing

I am supposed to be writing my CV (resume) but instead I thought I would share another pair of socks with you.

Can you believe that I have knitted these since my last post 3 days ago? No, me neither. Even more amazing is that I dyed the wool in that time too. Here is the dyed skein.

hand dyed yarn Kool Aid DK socks hand knitted

I already had this skein of West Yorkshire Spinners 100% Blue Faced Leicester Fleece wool DK (Ecru) that I brought with me from the UK. I always intended to dye it but never quite around to it before we left. So when I had a bit of time at the weekend, I googled ‘dyeing with Kool Aid’ and jumped right in. Actually, I used a cheap dollar store equivalent to Kool Aid so it will be interesting to see how the colours last. I used the microwave and didn’t stop to think about the colour application too much, I just made sure that I didn’t mix everything to make a yucky brown. Rather than making up liquid dye, I just sprinkled the powders on and mushed them into the yarn gently.

Here it is balled up  and ready to go.

hand dyed yarn Kool Aid DK socks hand knitted

And here it is knitted up as socks.

hand dyed yarn Kool Aid DK socks hand knitted Winwick Mum

The socks are knitted using Christine’s new DK sock pattern/tutorial over at Winwick Mum. This was an excellent use of one skein of DK yarn and I cannot believe how fast the DK knitted up.

As these are 100% wool they are super soft too but they might not be as hard wearing as socks with nylon so I shall look after them. As a caution I think I will set the colours with vinegar. The citric acid in the Kool Aid is supposed to avoid that but I’d be gutted if I washed them and they turned baby pink!

I’m glad I started knitting socks in 4ply then moved on to 6ply, then 8ply as I can appreciate the speed at which these knit up. I might not feel the same in reverse.

Quick sock and quick post.

x

 

Sock update

I last shared my sock making here with you back in March and since then we have moved to a new country, found work, a house and started to settle into a new community. We cannot believe it is less than 4 months since we started our new life in Canada.

During that time my needles have been busy knitting socks. Maybe because they are a small portable project, maybe because my brain can’t focus on anything more complex, maybe because I actually think we will need these socks once the colder weather arrives.

The first pair I am going to share with you were actually knitted just before we left the UK. My last few knitting lessons with Jen at the Wool Stop, Thornbury, learning how to knit toe up, two at a time socks using a magic loop. I used HiyaHiya sharp 100cm (2.5mm) needles for these socks.

knitted socks fish lips kiss heel arne carlos 3655 toe up two at a time

The yarn is Arne & Carlos Regia colourway 3655 and I love how the pattern worked up on these socks.

To start these socks Jen showed me the Turkish cast on method which is the most amazing way to cast on toe up socks! Have a look, it really is magic. I also learnt a new heel, the Fish Lips Kiss Heel (the pattern is very reasonably priced on Ravelry). I will be interested to see how this heel wears compared to the Winwick Mum heel I normally do. The other difference with these socks was the bind off, I used Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off. I don’t like the frilly look that this bind off gave my socks but it is very comfortable.

In order to see if I could remember how to knit socks this way, I knitted another pair when we arrived in Canada. These were a gift for my Dad and were made with 6ply sock yarn and 3mm  100cm needles.

Boot socks Rellana 6ply 7045

The yarn is Rellana fancy sock 6ply colourway 7045. These socks weren’t supposed to match but they almost do.

As they were a gift I wanted to block them but didn’t have my blockers so I made one from a coat hanger, so easy.

DIY sock blocker coat hanger sock knitting

I also used one of the labels available on the Winwick Mum Sockalong Facebook group page.

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My next socks were for my boys. They are very specific about what they want! For these I used the handy chart on the Winwick Mum Sockalong Facebook page (it’s in the files section) as I hadn’t knitted little socks before. I used the regular Winwick Mum 4ply sock pattern.

hand knitted socks child drops fabel 522 winwick mum

The yarn for this pair is Drops Fabel 522 with an unknown scrap cuff, heel and toe.

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These were made from Lion Brand Sock-Ease in Teal Blue (4ply). I used my 23cm 2.5mm HiyaHiya short circular needles for both of these pairs. Little socks are quick to knit!

Next up is another pair of boot socks using the Winwick Mum boot sock pattern for my husband.

Boot socks Rellana 6ply 7040

Made with 3mm 25cm KnitPro needles and Rellana Fancy Sock 6ply colourway 7040.

Nearly there… this time a pair of socks for me. Yay! These socks are just right for wearing with trainers.

Rose City Rollers knitted socks Sirdar Heart & Sole 0165

The pattern is Rose City Rollers on Ravelry and the yarn is Sirdar Heart & Sole colourway 0165.

And last but not least, I have these on the needles at the moment. Another pair for my husband!

winwick mum sock knitting regia 4ply 4491

The yarn is Regia 4ply colourway 4491

Did I mention, I like knitting socks?

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My socks have pairs… finally!

I am feeling an incredible sense of relief. Not because I have packed up our house, have all our affairs in order and we’re ready to go to Canada a month early, no. I am relieved because I have finally finished three pairs of socks. This may go some way to explaining why we are no way near ready to move yet.

I shall start with my favourite socks.

Valentinesox knitted DK colourwork fairisle

These are definitely happy socks. Firstly, they are red. Secondly, they are my first stranded knitting ever. I am just a little bit proud of these socks.

I have been having an hour long knitting lesson each week with Jen, from my LYS (The Wool Stop) and before each lesson, I decide on what I would like to learn. Usually this is based on a rather ambitious pattern I have saved on Ravelry, as was the case here. Jen is the best type of teacher, patient and thorough. After an hour with her I really do have the confidence to go (rush) home and have a go (do nothing else all day but knit).

The pattern is called Valentinesox (a free pattern on Ravelry) and it has a stranded colourwork cuff (which should have a crochet edging but I haven’t done that bit) and heel. The rib on the cuff is a twisted rib, which I really like the look of and is so easy to do (just *knit 1 through the back loop, purl 1*. The pattern is an easy to follow chart followed by some interesting detailing where the cuff turns over. The colourwork on the heel flap isn’t in the round but it seems to have worked, I tried to make sure no gaps formed by twisting the yarns (a lot!). The rest of the sock is straightforward with a ribbing and stocking stitch. The toe was shaped using the same method as Christine at Winwick Mum uses in her basic sock pattern and is finished off with Kitchener stitch.

I made these on a 3mm x 25cm circular (KnitPro Symfonie) as the pattern suggested. For my chunky feet I probably could have done with another 4 stitches in the round after the cuff, if truth be told. The yarn is James C Brett (now Jenny Watson) pure merino DK  that I already had. As they are 100% wool these will be house socks (without the added nylon that sock wool has, they will be less durable).

The next pair of socks I completed were for my husband, following Christine’s pattern for boot socks. I found a useful chart from Regia which advised casting on 52 stitches.

Boot socks 6ply

My husband was very specific about them not matching! That meant I had to count rows rather than go by the stripes. It was amazing how quickly these socks worked up compared to 4ply ones, even though they were size 9. He says they are very warm!

The yarn is Rellana Fancy Sock 6ply Stripy (7046) bought from myfabrics.co.uk (based in Germany). Again I used  a 3mm x 25cm circular (KnitPro Symfonie).

Finally I completed another pair of socks for myself.

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This pattern is A Nice Ribbed sock and the yarn is Mondial Ciao (241), knitted on a 2.5mm short circular.

These were actually made two at a time but on separate needles and I am so glad as I did tire of the rib after a while (maybe because my Valentinesox had a rib too). I thought it would look neater too , which it doesn’t, even after blocking. I matched these socks up but the heels weren’t the same, strange. Edit: Looking at the heel flap more closely, I think they are slightly different lengths which would explain the difference.

I am now learning how to knit two at a time, toe up socks. I don’t mind knitting socks separately but I was suffering a bit from second sock syndrome with these pairs. When I met Christine last November, I bought a copy of her sock book and she signed it saying ‘May all your socks have pairs’. At the time I was on sock 1 of my first pair. I now understand what she meant!

x

 

 

 

Wise Old Owl Hat

I feel like I am on a go slow at the moment whilst the rest of the world whizzes by. You should see the list of things we need to do before we leave for Canada. It’s scary.

We have done all of the important stuff, like booking flights (19th April.. yikes!!) and the house has been put up for let today. I even bought a suitcase and just in case you think I have my priorities mixed up, you will be relieved to know that all of my yarn stash does fit in. Not so sure about my clothes.

As for packing the house up, that will be a mad panic around about Easter when I fully anticipate I will go bonkers.

I had time to knit a hat this week. Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with my priorities. Here it is…

Wise old owl hat knitted chunky Hayfield Tweed

Actually I am very proud of this hat as it is the first time I have knitted cables. Lucky for me, the owner of my LYS has been giving me an hour of her time to help me with my knitting each week. Jen is a great teacher and is very patient with me. We have been covering a variety of knitting techniques which I can hopefully share with you as the projects are completed.

The hat is knitted in Hayfield Chunky Tweed (Chester) and is a bargain at under £4. The pattern was a free one on Ravelry. ( Update – this pattern doesn’t seem to be available any more but I did find this child’s version if that helps. I also found this one on Ravelry)  I used 6mm circulars but only cast on 72 stitches and increased to 77 after the rib, so it only has 7 owls. The hat is a good size, it fits my big head which is good.

wise old owl hat knitted hayfield chunky tweed

I am trying to complete some projects before starting any new ones. Haha, I am trying.

That just leaves me to thank Bessie V from Shells and Bobbles for nominating me for a One Lovely Blog Award. It means a lot when another blogger picks you out  for an award and I have come across some of my favourite blogs through similar recommendations, so thanks again!

x