On The Road

I’m spending a week at my parents’ house while they’re away, keeping my brother company and looking after their dog, Charlie. Quite clearly, I needed some knitting that would travel well and that I could pick up when I get a few minutes in the sunshine. I assembled a little travelling sock bag to keep me company on my expedition:

The bag is actually a little picnic cool bag, but it’s just the right size for my sock knitting stuff. I’ve got my luxurious Blue Sky Alpaca wooden double point needles, scissors, a tape measure, and then there’s The Yarn.

Look at all those colours! So bright! This gorgeous yarn is Hightwist Superwash Merino Sock Yarn, from Frankenstein Yarns (who trades on etsy and blogs as The Naked Skein). The colour is called ‘Chubby Tuesday’, and the colours do remind me of Mardi Gras, but I think they’ll also work really well as a pair of lighter summer socks. I’ve got a couple of other projects with me too, but I can’t wait to get started on some socks with this!

Winter is Coming

Winter is coming … in about six months time. That didn’t stop me from making these House Stark mittens though, featuring the sigil from everybody’s favourite Game of Thrones house.

I haven’t tried much colour work before. In fact, these are my first attempt at intarsia. I found the chart relatively straightforward to follow, although the little bits of grey on the ears and eyes of the direwolf were a bit fiddly. In the end, I used fair isle to knit them, and intarsia for the rest of the direwolf’s head.

The mitten pattern was from the Game of Thrones Inspired Mittens booklet from the Yarn Cafe. I started with the Stark mittens, as I’m definitely a northern girl at heart. The booklet contains patterns for mittens with the sigils of various other houses though, so I’m sure I’ll be making more for the other Game of Thrones fans that I know!

I knitted the women’s size, which is actually a little large for my hands. The ribbing around the wrist will keep them in place though, and they’re definitely long enough to keep my fingers toasty in cold northern winters!

I used King Cole Merino Blend DK. One full 50g ball was perfect for both mittens, with a little spare for repairs, and then I used approximately a quarter of a 50g ball of the same yarn for the lighter grey direwolf design.

The only thing I changed in the pattern was that I reversed the chart for the left-hand mitten, so that the direwolf heads face one another on the two mittens.

The north remembers … to always twist the yarns when knitting intarsia.

A Sock Full of Jewels

Just look at those colours!

I made these for a friend’s birthday. Never mind that her birthday was in fact six weeks (and counting) ago, I finally got them finished and posted off to her. The colours in this yarn are absolutely gorgeous. Not only did they make me happy when knitting them, but they are so bright that I challenge anyone not to smile when they see them.

The yarn is Mill House Designs BFL Superwash sock yarn. It was lovely to knit with, very sock and with just enough stitch definition. My only complaint is that the purple dye wasn’t that fast – quite a lot came out when I was blocking the socks, although it didn’t run into the other colours when drying, and I think as long as they’re washed separately they won’t cause problems.

These are my third finished pair of socks for the Socks with Sarah KAL. I used a variation of the pattern of the Regia basic 4-ply sock pattern. The yarn swatched a little larger than 4-ply when knitted on 3.25mm needles, so I reduced the pattern by a couple of stitches around the cuff and carried that through the foot. I also knitted a reinforced slip-stitch heel, so that they’re reasonably durable.

Finally, I got them all wrapped up, with some spare yarn for repairs, and ready to send to my friend Laura!

At last, she’ll know why I asked her to measure her foot a couple of months ago and to send me the measurements. There’s only so many ways to be subtle about requesting such information…!

Rippit, Ribbit

Alas, last night I reached the horrible conclusion that the mistake I’d made somewhere in the depths of the shawl for the Follow Your Arrow mystery knit-a-long was so terrible, and so well hidden, that the only thing I could do was frog the whole thing back to the beginning and start again.

Progress is slow.

I read somewhere a while ago that the reason it’s called ‘frogging’ is because you rip-it, rippit, ribbit. I really hope this is true.

Ambling around Ambleside

It’s been such a busy time recently! The blog has been so quiet while I’ve been sidetracked, applying for various jobs. I heard yesterday that I’ve got one – starting in September – so I finally have some time to catch up on all my knitting and crafting news!

First of all, I went on holiday! A couple of weeks ago myself and some friends decided to take some time out from it all, and went on a little trip to the Lake District. We rented a cottage, ate a huge amount of cheese, and enjoyed the bracing Lakes air while trying to dodge showers.

One day we had a break from scoffing cheese and sampling cakes, and did a short walk from Ambleside to Grasmere (available on the Walking in Cumbria website), home of the famous Grasmere gingerbread shop.

Our walk took us past Rydal Hall, a beautiful old house overlooking Lake Windermere.

photo 2

The grounds were beautiful, even in the winter cold and damp.

It wasn’t long before we spotted something hanging from the trees…

and from the walls…

and hovering next to the beautiful waterfalls…

Our lovely walk ended at Grasmere village, where we made a pilgrimage to the gingerbread shop of legend. Yarn-bombing, scenery, and gingerbread. What more could we wish for?

Double Sock-cess (#sockswithsarah KAL)

Socks. I never really knew what I was missing, until I wore a pair of knitted socks. I don’t think there’s a single knitted item that I’ve ever made, that’s drawn as much (mainly undeserved) admiration and object-envy as socks.

The second knit-a-long (KAL) that I’m taking part in this year is the ‘Socks with Sarah’ year-long sock KAL. It’s organised by Sarah of brilliant Knitting Sarah blog fame. This is a wonderful, low-stress KAL that I can work on alongside any other knitting I’m working on. The object of the KAL is to knit socks, for a year, a little each day, aiming to incorporate sock knitting into everyday knitting so that, slowly but surely, we each build up our collection of knitted socks and practice the skills involved in sock knitting.

So far, I’ve produced two pairs of socks. The first of my efforts for ‘Socks with Sarah’ was made with West Yorkshire Spinners 100% DK Bluefaced Leicester ‘Country Birds Collection’ in the ‘Blue Tit’ colourway. The double knitting yarn knitted up so quickly, it was lovely to work with and I love the effect it gave in the finished knit. The pattern I used was my fail-safe double knitting sock pattern, A Simple Knitted Sock Pattern for Beginners by Anna Hobbs. The pattern’s so easy to follow and results in some genuinely lovely and well-fitted socks.

These socks were actually a very late Christmas gift for Graeme. I wrapped up the ball of yarn in his Christmas stocking, but it’s taken me quite a while to turn that ball into actual socks! He seems pleased with the finished socks anyway, although they’re a bit small. Might need to use two balls of the yarn if I make him a pair from this again!

The second pair of socks that I’ve knitted for the KAL in the past couple of weeks are the recommended beginner socks for the ‘Socks with Sarah’ KAL, the Basic Sock by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas in Rowan Felted Tweed DK.

The shade isn’t quite raspberry. It’s actually quite dark red, with lovely little flecks of other colours.

It’s called ‘Rage’, although that seems far too angry for some nice cosy knitted socks! The pattern was excellent – very easy to follow, with detailed instructions and images of the tricky bits! Although I’m not really a beginner sock knitter, I loved the opportunity to knit something simple but really lovely, and I wanted to use the recommended pattern for the KAL to get me into the spirit! I’ve managed to make these two pairs far quicker than I expect I’ll normally be able to manage, mainly due to the thickness of the yarns and the simplicity of the patterns. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep this pace up for very long at all!

I learned how to knit socks quite early as a knitter, but I’m quite stuck in my ways. I always knit them top-down. I always use 4 double-pointed needles. I always use a slip-stitch heel and graft the toe with kitchener stitch. While this means I no longer fear knitting socks, it is pretty boring. So the second thing I’m hoping to get out of this KAL – as well as a beautiful sock drawer – is some variety in my sock-knitting skills. I haven’t managed it in these two, but maybe next time…!