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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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.

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.

002

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

 

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.

x

 

 

 

 

 

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!

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

x