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.

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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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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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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.

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