All hail the mighty KAL

There seems to be something in the knitterly brain that happens around the beginning of June. Always happy to be swept along or enabled into casting on 'just one more pattern', the onset of June traditionally sees the start of a whole festival of KALs. And I for one, am happy to go along for the ride.

First up, I do have to give a plug for my own KAL - Running from June 1st to Jul 31st for those knitting the Hebridean Hap. This was inspired by and designed using the fabulous Daughter of a Shepherd yarn from Rachel Atkinson (of My Life in Knitwear). You don't need to use the specific yarn but you do need to have a love of squishy garter stitch, cosy shawls and a bit of fun chatter. The thread is over on my Ravelry group - please do pop over and say hi. If you are knitting the hap, show us your shawl and if not, maybe we can tempt you?

Next up is the #summersockskal run and hosted by the brilliant Rae (aka MmedeBeauvoir on Ravelry and Psychoknitter on Instagram). Rae is hosting a really fun and chatty group for this celebration of all things sock related - her Ravelry group is here.

There are no rules - other than to chat about socks, sock patterns, sock tips and general enabling. Whether you are new to socks or an experienced sock ninja the group is open and welcoming to all comers.

Of course, at the root of this summer related knitting obsession is the annual Stash Dash event. Hosted by the KnitGirlls and running from the end of May to mid August the aim is to keep track (in metres and Km) the exact amount of yarn which leaves your stash in the form of finished objects. All the details and answers to many questions can be found over on their group - but with goals ranging from a 3K jog to a 15K marathon it has a wide ranging appeal and is wildly popular.

And just in case I was in danger of finding myself with insufficient WIPs, two new KALs appear in view to tempt me.

Helen of Curious Handmade has announced the launch of her new secret Shawl Society pattern club. Starting on June 8th the first shawl pattern will be released and one of the recommended yarns - Urban Hints - is that dyed by my friend and fellow woolhead Helen of The Wool Kitchen. A skein of that very yarn currently resides in my stash so it would be rude not to join in..no?



And then, just to finish me off, the charming Ellipsissy on Ravelry (the_ellipsissy on IG) posted a few pictures of her new project - the Vivid blanket squares by Tincan Knits. Except she is knitting them in superb natural yarns from Isla of BritYarn. Totally gorgeous and utterly compelling. A wet and windy bank holiday weekend (is there any other) saw me grabbing the needles and some stash yarn and casting on. Six squares later I appear to have accidentally started a new baby blanket project (the good news is that each completed square counts towards my Stash Dash tally) and also agreed to host an informal KAL on my group. The #minivividkal is growing by the day though and isn't quite as mini as it once was.

There is something extremely addictive about these innocent looking little squares - please do pop over to the group to check them out - but don't say that I didn't warn you :)

Right, that's enough from me I think. If anyone wants me this weekend I'll be hiding in the spare bedroom frantically knitting whilst my family subsist on peanut butter sandwiches and takeaway pizza.


Happy Knitting!




Spring Forward - an optimistic KAL

March 19th sees the start of the Spring Forward KAL running in my Ravelry group. With Spring very firmly in mind, pick a fabulous yarn from your stash and any of my self-published patterns (either free or paid). It can be a colour that reminds you of spring or the name of the pattern, yarn or dyer. Anything that links in your mind to Spring and encourages Spring-like thoughts is fine by us.

Or you could interpret it as 'springing forward' into a new challenge. Maybe this is the time to try toe-up socks if you've always been a die-hard cuff-down knitter? Or maybe you'd like to try cabling without a needle? In short - any way you can make it work is absolutely fine. If you've ever taken part in one of my KALs before you will know that we are not friends of the Knitting Police.

The only 'rules' are that you must be a member of my Ravelry group to join in the fun.

Sharing of posts on social media is always encouraged - please use the hashtags #springforwardkal2016 and #louisetilbrookdesigns so that we can see what you are up to.

The KAL runs until May 1st, you will have plenty of time to knit up a wonderful spring-themed pair of socks or maybe a light and airy shawl?


Indie Designer Giftalong 2015

Aaand..they're off

The 3rd annual Indie Design Giftalong has now started over on Ravelry.

335 designers from 30 countries have combined to offer a fabulous 25% discount on selected patterns. Use code giftalong2015 at checkout from Thursday, November 19th at 8:00 pm US EST - Friday, November 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm US ES.

Louise Tilbrook Designs: GAL Patterns
As well as the sale and the chance to find some new-to-you designers there are KALs, competitions and general chatter happening over on the Indie Design Giftalong group.

 As you might expect I'll be hanging out in the thread related to sock and other foot/leg patterns but I can never resist checking out all the other amazing patterns - and I do need a new hat for winter....

Here we are in October already and with #Socktober well and truly underway. Autumn is in full, blustery swing here in the UK today and it seems fitting that under my smart work work boots I am wearing my best handknit stripey socks to keep my feet warm.

I do hope you have your Socktober knitting planned out and on the needles but just in case you need a little extra enabling - fear not as I have a little round up of some fun goings on in the knitterly world.

First up we have the #gbsocksawaykal hosted by the lovely Isla, of the even more lovely Brit Yarns fame. Her KAL group on Ravelry is a really fun and chatty place to hang out. Even if you aren't knitting socks (and if not..why not??) there are plenty of great tips, patterns, chat and inspiration to get your sock knitting mojo going.

As well as the KAL, Isla is also running a competition jointly with Joy of the Knitting Goddess. You are challenged to come up with a new Britsock colourway (of up to 3-4 colours) which to you, perfectly sums up Britishness. There are some great entries already and I can't wait to see what is eventually chosen.

If you are all about the KALs still, Sara of Sara's Textured Crafts is hosting one too - with the emphasis firmly on relaxed fun and chatter over on her Ravelry group.

As for my own knitting. I am having a bit of a Finishing Festival. I have several pairs of self striping socks in various stages of completion which, to my shame, have languished for far too long in search of the new, the tempting and the deadline knitting. My boys are clamouring for their completed socks - each of them chose a shade of the West Yorkshire Spinners bird-inspired yarns some time ago.

To forestall the inevitable arguments I initially started working them two at a time - one from each skein. But I soon came to realise that this didn't make for the most portable of projects. This was compounded by my trying to work the heels with separate little balls of yarn (I pre-wound about 5g from each skein before starting) in an attempt to keep my nice even stripes on the front of the sock. Things got into a bit of a tangle and had to be set aside (read - shoved into a corner) until I had time to untangle and rearrange on separate needles. All is now going swimmingly however and I have high hopes of being able to present not 1 but 2 pairs of finished socks for #FOFriday this week.

How about you - do let me know what you are working on and how your Socktober is going.

Taking it Easy

After the rather frenetic pace of Stash Dash I feel the need to slow down a little in my knitting. Clearing some longer term projects – I’m looking at you MiteredCrosses blanket – has been very rewarding but I now need a more relaxed project. Something to savour and enjoy.

Work knitting is quite busy right now with deadlines aplenty and several designs in the pipeline and I need something for recreational knitting that I can relax with and enjoy. Something to knit for pure pleasure and luckily I have just the thing.

This skein of gorgeousness is by the very talented Eleanor of Solstice Yarns in a much admired custom-dyed colourway called Beetle. Eleanor has dyed this colourway onto a range of her bases and my skein has been sitting patiently in my stash, awaiting its turn to shine.

The SolsticeYarns group are having a relaxed KAL from August through the end of the year – a ‘Beetle-along – allowing people to share their projects and inspiration for this beautiful yarn.

Southern Shawl - © Truly Myrtle

I am going to be making the Southern Shawl by Libby of Truly Mrytle Designs. There is a lot of simple stocking stitch and texture which I think will work really well with this silky smooth yarn and the lace at the end looks particularly pretty and delicate.

Even better – the shawl is asymmetrical in construction, meaning that I can double dip with the Yarns at Yin Hoo Aymmeti-CAL – always a bonus.

The main aim with this project is to slow down a little and just to enjoy the project for it's own sake. With yarn so beautiful I want to enjoy the whole process and this shawl looks like the perfect way to do that.

Joining in with the Makealong

Those of you who are regular readers will know that I can never resist a KAL and now that my Aestlight Shawl for the Knit British Hapalong is finished my 4 mm needles were in need of a new project.

It was perfect timing then to join in with the Makealong, hosted by Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch. Knitting or crochet - anything goes and the intention is to try a new technique or somehow challenge yourself.

I couldn't decide on a pattern so in the end I cast on for a simple heart shaped garter stitch shawl of my own devising - so I guess it does count as a challenge. I'm enjoying the squishy gartery goodness for now but the intention is to add some contrast stripes and maybe a fancy border.
How about you - if you are joining in I would love to know what you are making.

It's all about the KALs

It must be the time of year but suddenly it seems as though KALs  (knit-alongs) are everywhere. If you are anything like me you will need no excuse to abandon your faithful WIPs without a second thought and gleefully dive into the next bright, new, shiny thing - fickle? - me? - surely not.

So with KALs and other events seemingly multiplying like rabbits I did what I normally do and made a list.

And once I'd made a list I thought I should share it with you in case you are feeling the same, slightly festive overload.

KALs - it's all about the list

So, with apologies in advance for the lack of thoroughness ( I haven't attempted to include all KALs - just the ones that have crossed my radar) we have in no particular order:

The Ravelry gift-along (GAL) continues apace with a variety of KALs running. Separated into type of pattern - sweaters, hats, mitts etc there are some great threads here, and a fabulous chatty bunch of people eager to see your projects. #giftalong2014

There is a Mealong running over on the A Playful Day blog and Ravelry group - participants are invited to make a smallish project (originally a single skein of yarn but this has expanded to include different amounts - the group is very relaxed about rules). The project should be something indulgent and for yourself, as a treat at this busy time of year. There are prizes too with the draw happening on Christmas eve.  #MEALONG

In a similar vein there is the Knitmore Girls and their #grinchalong. Sticking with the Knitmore Girls, they have a number of ongoing KALs which are great fun. Largely run on Instagram. browsing the entries using the hashtags #operationsockdrawer is a great way to spend a coffee break. They are also taking part in the long running #projectsweaterchest (in conjunction with Susan B Anderson)

Chrissy of the Stitched Together podcast is hosting a Random Rummage Craftalong which embraces all crafts.It started on Nov 1st and runs until January 31st 2015and must use yarn/fibre etc from your stash. ~#STRRCAL

Eden Cottage Yarns is having a KAL of the amazing Quadratic shawl - designed by the very talented David O'Kelley. This pattern is an absolute classic - I've made one already - and I couldn't resist joining in and making another one. There are some great adaptations so and the KAL thread on the Ravely forum is a great source of inspiration. #quadkal

Helen of Curious Handmade is running a KAL alongside her Knitvent collection for this year. There are some beautiful patterns in this collection - the main challenge is choosing which one to knit first. #giftingzen

And of course I couldn't forget The Golden Skein - who is celebrating their first birthday and hosting a KAL to celebrate. The pattern is a wonderful shawl from Clare Devine - Kunye and the KAL will run from 20th Dec to 1st March 2015 #TGSONEKAL. The shawl is wonderfully elegant and will be just perfect for those few of my Golden Skeins that haven't grown up into projects yet.

The only challenge now is choosing which is to cast on for first - or working out how to do some sneaky double dipping.

The Accidental FO

The accidental FO

How does one accidentally create an FO?

If like me, you tend to jump into things with both feet, it's quite simply really.

A chance mention by Victoria of the wonderful Eden Cottage Yarns about a forthcoming KAL made my knitterly ears prick up. The pattern in question is a wonderful shawl - Quadratic - designed by David O'Kelly. Using 1.5 skeins of sock weight yarn this is a generous garter stitch shawl which uses small scraps of leftovers or mini skeins to create fun, colourful and rather addictive stripes.

Garter stitch - check
Mini skeins - check
2 skeins of delicious ECY Titus sitting in my stash - check

Faster than you can say KNIT! I was off and away.

The work week from hell, kids homework woes (curse you, long division) and a husband working on a different continent meant that I was sorely in need of a soothing garter stitch (and red wine).
Quadratic shawl by David O'Kelly

Without giving away the "secret sauce", the pattern has you start out with a large number of stitches and then work decreases until the end. At the beginning the more closely spaced stripes spur you on to work "just one more row". And once you are past the half way point, the ever decreasing stitch count means that the project just flies off the needles.

It is rare for me to knit a shawl so quickly, especially one with 150m of yarn but this was a true pleasure. A sort of "perfect storm" of pattern, yarn and stress and I am truely delighted with the finished product.

The shawl measures a generous 55" by 25" after very gentle blocking and patting (lots of patting) and it is wonderfully wearable.
Quadratic shawl - in action

Of course there is the minor detail of the fact that I have managed to start and finish the shawl before the official start date of Dec 1st.

Drat! Oh well, I will just have to make another. It's a hard life ;)

For all the KAL details check the ECY group on Ravelry - here

See you there :)

The 2014 Giftalong has begun

It's finally here.

After weeks and months in the planning the 2nd Ravelry giftalong has started. In actual fact it started in the wee small hours (at 8pm EST, American time) but this morning certainly marks my official start.

Some amazing background work by the organisers has brought together 293 designers from 21 countries in a 2 month event

Check out this amazing graphic by the very talented 80skeins for lots of geeky GAL facts:

Amazing Giftalong Infographic by 80skeins

It gave me a real buzz to see that the UK is so well represented. There are many well known and not so well known designers taking part and it is a great opportunity to showcase our work to the knitting world.

The support on the various chat threads on Ravelry has been overwhelmingly positive too, with eager folk chatting, planning and generally having a great fibre-y time.

Louise Tilbrook Designs Giftalong (GAL) Patterns #giftalong2014

Here is a summary of my patterns which are available through the GAL and click here to see the full list of all participating designers and their patterns. There is also some wonderful eye candy here on Pinterest, although I'm not responsible for the effect that browsing this may have on your queue.

The all important details:
The GAL runs from Nov 14th-21st and use of the coupon code "giftalong2014" will give you 25% off each designers selected patterns. There are over 11,000 patterns in total to choose from so you won't be lacking in choice.

Nov 14th also sees the start of a 2 month KAL/CAL where you can knit your chosen patterns to your hearts content and join in the various chatter threads relating to your projects. The "Foot and Legshttp://www.ravelry.com/discuss/indie-design-gift-a-long/3067893/1-25" thread is particularly fun - but then, I would say that ;)

Competitions, prizes, chatter and more mean that this should be a fabulous event for all concerned. I do hope to see you over there.

Wovember 2014

Following on from the excitement of Socktober we are plunging headlong into the sheepy fun which is Wovember - a month long celebration of all things British and woolly.

Wovember logo

Britain has a long standing love affair with wool of which we are rightly proud and this is a great opportunity to showcase our rich and varied wool history.

The Wovember organisation has a wonderful programe of events, competitions, writing and more throughout the month. Even if you are a dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast (sorry - I couldn't resist) you are sure to come across interesting facts and snippets to pique your interest. Join the Facebook group or follow on Twitter and you will receive lots of great information to brighten up your day.

Naturally, no good event worth it's salt can be without a KAL, but this of course is a WAL (wool-along) and any wool-related activity can be included whether it be spinning, weaving, crochet, knitting, felting, wool embroidery - you get the idea.

The only stipulation is that you must use 100% British wool for your project. Other than that you can let your imagination roam free. All the details are here  along with lots of fun chat and links.

Naturally, I can never resist an "along" so I will of course be diving into the stash for some suitable yarn. I am in desperate need of a winter hat and mittens so this project will be ideal. it will also give me the opportunity to "double dip" with the GAL (Gift-a-along) - more on this later in the week.

I was slightly shocked to realise how little 100% British wool I have in my stash - a situation which surely requires some attention. Although in my defence much of my stash is sock yarn with a little added nylon or something extra. 

West Yorkshire Spinners dk yarn - Photo from Ginger Twist Studios
I do have several skeins of wonderful West Yorkshire Spinners dk yarn though in the natural light brown colour which is just crying out to be made into a hat...for me..naturally.

Sock design challenge: Week 4

So, it looks as though you would like a little bit more adventure in the heel department. The 'something different' option won by quite a margin.

We are looking at a unisex sock with a simple, easy to memorise cable repeat and something a little out of the ordinary for the heel. It's a good job I have been doing my homework and have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I have left the most difficult question until last.

Most of my designs I like to offer in both toe-up and cuff down formats but due to the time constraints of this project only one option will be on offer.

So, over to you...

1. Toe-up

2. Cuff down.

Leave a comment below or head on over to the Ravelry group to cast your vote.

Sock design challenge: Week 3


A technical hitch meant that this didn't go out on Monday as expected.

We are on to Week 3 and having determined that you fancy working on a simple cable repeat we are now thinking about heel options.

Would you prefer:

1. Standard heel flap and gusset

2. Short row heel

3. Something different that you might not have tried before

Leave a comment here on over on the ravelry group to have your say.


Tour de Sock

I must be mad, I have no idea why on earth I get myself into these things.

I signed up to this years Tour de Sock 2014 challenge. A sort of speed-knitting event which raises money for Doctors without Borders.

You pay your entrance fee, find a few like-minded sould to join you in a team (or go solo) and you're off.

There are 6 stages and each pair of socks must be completed by the time the next stage starts in order for you to progress. If you don't manage to complete, you still get access to the patterns - you are just out of the race.

I love events like this as it allows people to take part at whatever level they are comfortable with. Some just like the fun of a good old-fashioned KAL. Some like to sharpen their competitive edge a little or to challenge themselves to achieve a target. And some like to go all out, in a no holds barred race to the finish.

For the record I probably fall into the middle category - if only because I know I am in no way speedy enough to race to the finish.

The first pattern is the Wye Socks. Now these are relatively complex socks with twisty cables and (what seems to me) an unfeasibly long leg, but some amazing knitters were posting finished pairs within 24hrs of the pattern being published: here and here.

I have no idea how our speedy Finnish cousins knit so quickly but I am in awe of such speed and accomplishment.

As for me, after some determined hard-core knitting time and extensive use of saved freezer meals I have completed 1 sock and have just turned the heel of the next.

Allez....as the French would say!


What better way to kick off my new website than with a brand new pattern for spring.

Beltane is a collaboration with the wonderful Eleanor of Solstice Yarns who loves to hand-dye yarn in fabulous nature-inspired colours. Her yarns are really a joy to behold and my limited photographic skills certainly don't do them justice.

The colourway for these socks is Feathered Nest - inspired by duck egg blue bird's eggs nestling in a cute twiggy nest.

These socks feature an unusual twisted cable which is fun but surprisingly simple to work and a little elegant ribbing to keep the look unisex and ensure a good fit.

As usual, the pattern is offered in both toe-up and cuff down formats - as I know that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the toe-up way. Also, the sample as shown features the Fish Lips Kiss Heel - my new favourite. The pattern when purchased will have my usual heel flap construction but if you would like to try a new heel which works with both toe-up and cuff down then I highly recommend giving the Fish Lips Kiss Heel a try. At just $1 (approx 60p) the pattern is superb value for money and gives a wealth of information which I'm sure will be of value in your sock knitting journey.

So, if you'd like to welcome the arrival of spring with a bit of sock knitting how about joining us for a KAL, over on the Solstice Yarns group. There are no rules, other than having fun and chatting and all are welcome.

As an added incentive, use the code Beltane at checkout to get a 25% discount on the purchase price (usually £2.50)