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



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!




Estimating yardage - or - how to avoid playing yarn chicken

I recently shared a baby blanket project I had been working on using up partial skeins of leftover Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. It is my go-to favourite for easy-care baby knits and so I inevitably am left with lots of partial balls to use up.

The project generated a lot of interest and questions, most notably how I estimate the amount of yarn needed for each colour block. I thought it might be helpful to share my process with you - in the spirit of thriftiness and virtuous stash busting.

If you are happy with truely random stripes then just crack on and knit that blanket however it pleases you. Needless to say that my brain doesn't really do random and  I did need to decide on some kind of structure and uniformity. As I was knitting I decided that solid blocks of colour would work well, interspersed with sections of narrower stripes and so, when I was embarking on a coloured section I needed to make sure I had enough of that chosen colour to complete the block.

I'm sure there are many methods of estimating yardage out there but what I did was to use a paperclip to mark off 100cm of my working yarn. You can clip the paperclip right onto the yarn and it will stay in place. I then knitted as normal with the working yarn, counting my stitches as I did so until I reached the paperclip.

This gave me the number of stitches which were needed to knit 100cm of yarn. In my case this equated to 50 stitches.

So, 50 stitches needs 100cm (meaning that 1 st uses 2cm)

Each colour block required 9 garter ridges (18 rows)

18 x 120 = 2160 stitches

2160 x 2cm yarn = 4320 cm ( 43.2 m) 

Being able to knit on a colour block without the anxiety of playing yarn chicken really helped me to plough through the knitting. There are times when a knitter likes to live dangerously but this project wasn't one of them. And with my trusty paperclip to hand I could relax in the knowledge that my yarn wouldn't run out partway through a row.

Do you have a favourite tip or trick for avoiding the dreaded yarn chicken? Do leave a comment and let me know.

The Ultimate FO: Roundup of the Mitered Crosses Blanket

This project has been a long one, there's no denying it. The truth is there for all to see on my Ravelry page. The Mitered Crosses blanket started way back in 2013:

Date started: 29.03.2013
Date finished: 28.07.2015

In progress: much caffeine required

During the course of the project and latterly, through my participation in Stash Dash 2015 I have received lots of very kind encouragement and also a lot of questions, some of which I'll do my best to answer here.

I found that it helped to knit the squares in batches, working a series of coloured centres (as many as I could get from one skein) and then going along and adding all the neutral borders. This helped to keep the project portable as I didn't have to drag all the yarn along with me. All the squares were joined at the end - I used this tutorial for joining using crochet - which also maintained its 'portability'.

Working outside for a change of scene
My top tips:
  • When picking up stitches for the neutral border I used this tutorial, picking up through 1 'leg' of the stitch only to create as flat a seam as possible.
  • Be careful to pick up the exact number of stitches along each centre square - this makes joining the squares a lot easier and avoids wonky corners (ask me how I know).
  • Weave in the ends after each square is completed. I tried to do this religiously but a surprising number found their way into my project box without this crucial step.
  • When you pick up the project after a length of hibernation - and you will - check the pattern to make sure you are casting on the right amount of stitches for your mitered square. As well as this project I am also doing a mitered sock yarn blanket which calls for a different number of starting stitches. Why, yes. I am easily confused. How did you know?
Some assembly required

Without Stash Dash 2015 I don't think I would never have had the impetus to finish this project, but sharing my progress and receiving all of your feedback and encouragement has been invaluable.

Thank you all so much

In place - and cat free (for the moment)

Yarn used: Shilasdair Luxury dk. Each 100g skein has 340m (372 yds). This yarn has now been discontinued but a very similar one is still available just with a slightly different fibre content

7 = the number of semi-solid colours used
8 = the number of neutral skeins used

6 = the number of squares I got from each colour
2.25hrs = the time taken to knit one full square (42 x 2.25 = 94.5 hrs)
1.25hrs = the time taken to add a neutral border (42 x 1.25 = 52.5 hrs)
15hrs = approximate time for seaming and single crochet border

A grand total of 162 hrs

Sock yarn blankie

Don't worry, I won't bore you too much with photos of a mitered square blanket growing at a snails pace but once I month I will post a tally of how many squares I have completed. More as a means of keeping the project 'front and centre'. otherwise, I know what I'm like. It will slide to the bottom of my WIPs basket and then further into dusty oblivion before being rescued during a marathon cleaning attempt.

So In April I did a grand total of 40 squares - it has grown a little since this photo was taken - and I'm really enjoying it.

I am trying to stick to mainly UK indie dyers yarn - fortunately I have many (many) leftovers and am loving how all the different colours and tones come together.

Very addictive. Just need to keep reminding myself to pick it up at least every other day to keep the momentum going.