I knitted a shawl!

I can’t quite believe it, but I have knitted a shawl! In my mind this shawl will always be known as the Fargo shawl as it was knitted over about 5 episodes of the second series, but its actual name is  Quaker Yarn Stretcher Boomerang (paid pattern).

The story behind the shawl is pretty straightforward. At Christmas I was lucky enough to be given the most beautiful ball of Noro Kureopatora colourway 1024.

noro kureopatora 1024

It was so brightly coloured and really tactile, very soft and squishy. It is 100% wool. I really wanted to do this yarn justice.

First off all I thought I would try a Noro stripe scarf and I bought a contrasting skein in green but it did not look at all like I imagined it would and quickly abandoned the idea.

Next I tried a Hitchhiker scarf in cream and Noro stripes. Oh dear. Less said about that, the better.

So I had a look (spent hours) on Ravelry and found the Quaker Yarn Stretcher pattern and decided it was ‘easy’ enough for me to do, that I had enough yarn and that it would not take me months to make, so off I went.

The shawl is supposed to be knitted loosely which was a challenge for me as I am quite a tight knitter. The yarn is DK but I used a 6mm circular needle to give it the right gauge. I did wonder how the yarn would knit up as it was thick and thin in places but it wasn’t a problem.

So here is my first knitted shawl…

noro kureopatora 1024 quaker yarn stretcher knitted shawl easy

I had a hard time taking pictures of this shawl. There was lots of hilarity when I asked my brother to take some pictures of me in the garden. I am just not very good a posing for the camera. My mum even had to help out!

It was not obvious looking at the wound ball that this wool had such dramatic colur changes and although I had googled it, I loved watching the colours emerge. In my mind, it looks like a sun setting over a deep, dark ocean. I wonder what you see.

noro kureopatora 1024 quaker yarn stretcher knitted shawl

I will use this pattern again. I have the other ball of Noro I can use but looking at all of the projects on Ravelry (nearly 2000!), it is a very adaptable pattern.

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A tahdah!, a project update and a little bit of news

For reasons that will become obvious by the end of this post, there is a sense of urgency about my crafty projects at the moment. I keep jumping from one thing to another and desperately want to make everything now!

Honestly, Jen, who runs my local wool shop (The Wool Stop), must think I am insane. I keep rushing into the shop shouting ‘No time, I need this needle and this wool for this project’, then I proceed to waffle on about this, that and everything, pay, and leave her, I’m sure, wondering what the heck just happened.

I have finished one project though. A while back, I was looking on Ravelry for a more complex looking crochet project. I found the Closing Fans Shawl (paid pattern) and I started it with a 4ply silky yarn but quickly discovered that my diamond shapes were a fraction of the intended size and the shawl would cost me a small fortune if I ever actually finished it. I put the project to the side over the holidays and picked it up again in January, this time with a Stylecraft Alpaca DK in lime, yes, LIME! I guess I was yearning colour and something zingy after all the grey weather we have been having.

The pattern was a bit tricky at the start but I soon got the hang of it and a couple of weeks later we have a shawl. Tahdah!

Stylecraft Alpaca DK shawl crochet closing fans

 

Like all of the shawls that I have made, I have worn this one like a scarf and it is very soft and snuggly. I would make this shawl again but with a silkier DK yarn possibly but at the moment, I’m just pleased to have finished something.

Ever since I started knitting socks, whenever I am just about to start the heel, I start to think how easy it would be to make a pair of wristwarmers using the same skills. So last week when I saw this lovely post over at The Little Room of Rachell, I remembered that I had admired the same yarn in a different colour at The Wool Stop, so I immediately rushed off and bought some.

To say I rushed into things would be an understatement and not surprisingly, the end result was a single, very sorry wristwarmer.

Adraifil Knitcol trends 58 knitted wristwarmer

Where do I start? I used a 3mm long circular needle because a 4mm seemed way too loose and I didn’t have a 3.5mm and to be fair the fit is good until you get to the thumb area. My afterthought thumb was a learning curve but overall it is crying out for a thumb gusset. So instead of ploughing on like I usually do I am going to take my time with these gloves, so long that they probably won’t be ready until next year but they will have a thumb gusset. YouTube, here I come. The yarn is Adriafil  Knitcol Trends 58.

So it will come as no surprise that I have cast on a another pair of socks in the meantime.

Mondial Ciao 241

I am trying A Nice Ribbed Sock in Mondial Ciao 241, this was the first sock yarn I ever bought, before I even attended the sock workshop, so it is a little bit special to me. To avoid Second Sock Syndrome I am casting on two socks onto separate short circulars (I haven’t mastered two at a time yet), I’ll let you know if it makes a difference.

Another project that has seen the light this week is my Flowers in the Snow blanket. I say blanket but it is really a lot of circles still.

flowers in the snow crochet circles

I have to admit to going off this project last year but I am determined to finish it. I was going to use a denim blue colour instead of the usual white as a background but have decided white it will be and I have decided not to lay the circles out randomly after I arranged them like this

flowers in the snow crochet circles

What do you think? Much more appealing now and that is good as I am far more likely to complete the (much smaller than originally intended) blanket now.

And that brings me to my news.

(Trumpet fanfare)

We are moving.

To Canada.

In April.

This year!!!!!

If I can string the words together I will write a separate post all about how this move has come about and what it means for us. I hope you will wish us luck and stay with us on our travels. One thing I know for sure is that I am going to need to fine tune my knitting skills and get started on some winter woollies as I’m going to need them!

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Sock knitting is addictive

It really is.

I have just finished my second pair of knitted socks, hooray! These were a gift so I can share them now.

sirdar heart sole clever clogs knitted socks

sirdar heart sole clever clogs knitted socks

sirdar heart sole clever clogs knitted socks

sirdar heart sole clever clogs knitted socks

The yarn is Sirdar Heart & Sole Clever Clogs. I used a 23cm short circular (2.5mm) needle.

Can you tell how proud I am of them? They aren’t perfect. The ribbing on one heel is wonky and I’m not confident enough to undo my knitting yet, but I will learn.

In the meantime I must resist the temptation of casting on another pair because at the rate I knit socks, I wouldn’t make anything else all year.

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Project update

Most of my time at the moment is spent frantically making things on my Christmas list but I have three recent projects I can share as they have already been gifted.

The first is a crochet shawl that I made for a friend’s birthday. She wears blues and purples so I wanted a yarn to complement those colours. Instead of buying on the net, I wanted to feel the yarn and make sure the colour was right so I went to my local wool shop and picked up a skein of Manos del Uraguay Alegria (Tannat A6729). It is 75% wool and 25% polyamide, so essentially a sock yarn but as it isn’t cheap I don’t think I would want to make socks with it.

crochet scarf sock yarn lace

I followed the free pattern Summer Sprigs Lace scarf  by Esther Chandler. I don’t recall the hook size I used, probably a 3.5 or 4mm. The pattern appealed as it wasn’t a triangular shawl and it worked up quite quickly. It isn’t easy to tell what a variegated yarn will look like crocheted but this one had just the right balance of colours I was looking for.

crochet scarf sock yarn lace

I am pleased to report that my friend loved the scarf as it goes really well with the colours she wears (phew!) and that she has had lots of compliments about it, which is lovely to hear.

The second project I made as a gift was for my mum. My parents are visiting over Christmas and my mum does not like the cold. Not surprising as she and my dad lived in the tropics for nearly 50 years. So something cosy and warm was quickly made before they arrived (finished just in the nick of time).

I used Stylecraft Life Aran (Fuschia) for both the hat and scarf. The hat was knitted using the free Twist and Slouch pattern by Kali Berg. I wanted to practice my knitting on a circular needle and to learn a new stitch. The twisted rib gives a pretty cable effect. I used a 6.5 and 5.5mm needle.

knitted hat crochet flower

My mum loves flowers so a quick crochet one was added using this pattern.

To match the hat I crocheted a scarf, this time using a paid pattern called Newidyn Shawlette by Abigail Phelps. I used a 10mm hook as recommended for Aran weight yarn. This whipped up in an evening so would make an ideal last minute gift.

crochet scarf aran

The two together make a good set and according to my mum, both are toasty warm.

knitted hat crochet scarf

I can recommend all 3 of these patterns and all of them could be made in time for Christmas. So if you are like me and have left things to the last minute or have an unplanned gift you need to make, maybe one of these will inspire you.

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Cosy toes

The weather forecast on Friday warned of high winds and heavy rain across the UK, especially in coastal areas. I hope no one has been affected by the storms that continue to batter the country. In most circumstances this sort of weather would mean that we would stay at home, draw the curtains and watch DVDs back to back. This weekend? No. A while back I had booked us a short break away on the North Devon Coast so we went to the seaside instead!

We had a lovely time, visiting Clovelly (a unique, hillside village with cobbled streets and no cars) and braving the beach at Instow (it was windy!). I love the seaside and a bracing walk on the beach certainly helps clear the cobwebs away. Unusually for me, my project bag didn’t get opened at all. Mind you, I do find it tricky to manage knitting whilst holding a glass of wine which may or may not have had something to do with it.

So yesterday, when everything had been packed away and the boys were settled in bed, it was catch up time and I was on a mission. Of the sock variety. The result? My first pair of socks, knitted by me!

hand knitted sock knitting

You may recall a month or so ago I attended a sock knitting workshop and learned all about heel flaps, gussets and toe shaping. I didn’t know whether I would cope at all with knitting, let alone 5 needles at one time, but it was great fun and incredibly rewarding. You can see my dinky little test sock that I made at the workshop here. I am so proud of that sock.

Maybe not as proud as I was when I completed my first proper sock a week ago. So proud I had to take a picture of it. If you follow my Facebook page you will already have seen it. Do you know I have never worn a knitted wool sock before? I couldn’t get over how soft  and cosy and comfy it was.

I certainly couldn’t have knitted the sock without attending the initial workshop at my local wool shop (The Wool Stop, Thornbury), but I wouldn’t have finished it without the help of Christine Perry, aka Winwick Mum who I was lucky enough to meet at the same wool shop last weekend. Christine was signing copies of her book ‘Super Socks’ and offering a sock clinic. She was so kind, spending time with each of us, answering our questions and offering advice. Christine has written a post all about her visit on her blog here.

Once I knew how to finish my first sock there was no stopping me. I gather many people struggle to motivate themselves with the second sock once the first is completed but I felt the complete opposite. The second sock was whipped up in a fraction of the time and I am pleased to report has the correct length gusset, has no dropped stitches and no odd lumpy stitches, unlike the first which has all those flaws but is nonetheless perfect to me.

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I still need to block my socks to even out the stitches although my second sock definitely suffered less from the ‘ladder effect’. Christine’s tip was to make sure that the first two stitches on the needle were pulled a bit tighter. (Yes, we have our Christmas tree up!)

Everyone said that, once you knit your first pair of socks, you are hooked and I can well believe it. For my next pair I am going to try a small circular needle (luckily I have already bought mine, it seems there has been a national shortage since Lucy Attic24 revealed her first pair of knitted socks). I have Christine’s book and have joined her Facebook group Winwick Mum Sockalong (a lovely supportive and inspirational group of sock knitters) in case I run into any problems. I have a choice of about 5 different sock yarns I have been stashing for just this occasion, the only question is… can I resist starting them now in order to get on with all of my Christmas projects? Hhhhhmmmm, I doubt it very much.

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Half term round up

This half term was a much needed break for my husband (who is a teacher), my boys (especially the one that just started school) and me (who had lots of lovely treats planned).

The holiday started with our child-free break to the North Yorkshire Moors which turned into a 3 night stay after the in-laws said they didn’t mind having the grandchildren for another 24 hours (yipppeeee!). We had a fantastic time away, lots of sightseeing, lots of beachcombing and lots of uninterrupted time together… bliss.

Highlights were…treasure hunting for sea glass in Seaham

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… exploring the seaside town of Whitby

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… marvelling at Whitby Abbey (inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula)

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and my favourite part…  the Moors themselves.

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The only disappointment of the break was not finding a wool shop (I could actually hear my husband breathe a sigh of relief) but I did get a chance to practice my knitting for my sock knitting workshop.

I practiced my basic stitches by following the Hitchhiker scarf pattern and using sock yarn.

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I had bought the sock yarn a while back when I booked my place on the sock workshop. It is Mondial Ciao (241). It will make great socks so this scarf will be unravelled.

As the workshop approached I decided I needed to get more comfortable with knitting. I am a slow knitter and it all feels a bit clunky compared to crocheting. I found a pattern on Ravelry called Simple sample hat which uses the magic loop method on circular needles. My hat varies considerable from the pattern but I am quite proud of my first ever knitted hat!

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The sock workshop was today and it was everything I hoped it would be. We covered all elements of knitting a sock on DPNs (yikes!). I chose an orange sock yarn. Although this is far brighter than I wanted, it turned out to be a good choice as my stitches were all very easy to see.

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The workshop spanned a 4 hour period and everyone was exhausted by the end of it but we all produced a mini sock with a heel, gusset and toe (squeals of delight all round).

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The workshop was at my local wool shop the Wool Stop and was taught by Jacqui Harding of HappyMaking designs. Jacqui was the best type of teacher, patient, flexible and fun. She is a very talented knitter, crocheter and seamstress. Have a look at her Ravelry page for some of her designs.

Straight after the workshop the boys had a Halloween party. We had fun making some tasty treats to take with us.

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I have just realised with has got to be my longest post ever. Time for a glass of wine and to wish everyone a Happy Halloween.

x

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