It's all about the knitting - top tips for maximising your knitting time

At the risk of sounding a trifle obsessed my focus today is all about getting ready for Stash Dash - which starts tomorrow! I may have mentioned it once or twice before.

Success in Stash Dash (whatever your goal is) depends upon maximising your knitting time, and at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious you need to spend as much of your free time knitting and avoiding having to tink back or stop to hunt for supplies.

 With this in mind I am putting together a few project bags which have all of my essential supplies needed for socks and shawls - stitch markers, tape measures, waste yarn etc. I don’t know about you but in my house I can easily lose 10 minutes searching for a tapestry needle. And that crucial 10 minutes knitting time can be much better spent putting in an afterthought heel.

I know that not everyone shares my obsession but this year with time tighter than ever I have put together a few top tips to help me reach my 10K goal - I will report back later on how successful they are:

  1. Round up all essential supplies and set up a “sock bag” and a “shawl bag” where my current projects can live while they are being worked on.

  2. Do a quick inventory of larger projects and check what stage they are at. Do they need trying on or a decision made about length/fit/gauge - now is the time to decide so that you don’t waste valuable knitting time later on in a state of chronic indecision (no prizes for guessing how I know this).

  3. Do you need to order more needles? I’m not joking - nothing is worse than getting to the crucial stage of a project and realising that you need a different size or that something is lost or broken.

  4. Plan to curb screen time. This is a big one for me but I need to get my screen time under control if I’m going to make the most of my free time. I’ve downloaded an app called QualityTime to help me monitor how much time I spend online on my phone and I fully expect to be slightly shocked. If I manage to cut my screen time by even a quarter - that’s time that can be more gainfully employed.

  5. Gather up local takeaway menus and put them on the fridge. I’m not planning to feed the kids pizza every night (although the thought did cross my mind) but a few easy meals and minimal kitchen time will mean that I can spend some of the precious early evening hours (before I’m too tired to function) getting some solid knitting time under my belt.

If you have any tips for squeezing more knitting time into the day I’d love to hear them. Every little helps, as they say.

A bit of perspective

I’m going to apologise in advance for this blog post which takes the form of a mini rant and isn’t in my usual style. If you’ve popped in looking for the knitting, please feel free to pass this one by and pop back tomorrow.

I’m well aware that in the knitting industry there is a perception that all knitters are lovely, and indeed the vast majority of them are. But there is a small but significant minority of knitters who I’m afraid are anything but. Now I am well aware that in saying this I am sticking my head above the parapet and I may well lose some customers or subscribers as a result. But I feel strongly about this and I feel that by pretending everything in the garden is rosy we are doing everyone a disservice.

What am I talking about here? One word - courtesy. Specifically courtesy when speaking to people online. It’s a well known fact that people behave different to each other online than they do in person and that comes as no surprise. What has surprised me though is the response to a recent event, where I offered a free copy of a shawl pattern if people signed up to receive my regular newsletter.

To recap slightly, I designed the Fuss Free Festival Shawl in conjunction with Fluph Shop and the Little Grey Girl for an Edinburgh Yarn festival collaboration. The shawl then went on general sale on Ravelry and I decided to offer it free for a limited time as an incentive for my email subscription. All was fine for several weeks and I had a steady stream of subscriptions, then by a stroke of fate the pattern appeared in the Ravelry news pages. By the wonders of Ravelry the shawl shot to the top of the Hot Right Now page and stayed there for 24hrs or so.

The volume of new subscribers became a flood and my poor email service struggled to keep up. Now I'm not for one second complaining about this. It was a huge boost to my mailing list and my profile and was very welcome. What did irk me though was the tone of some emails and messages I received from people trying to access their free pattern.

These are a selection of genuine emails I received during a 12hr period - anonymised for obvious reasons.

“I signed up to your newletter expecting to receive your pattern as promised. It has NOT arrived”

“I really want your pattern but haven’t got it yet. Where do I get it?”

“ Why don’t you just put the pattern free on ravelry and then I can get it from there. I don’t want to give you my email address”

“On ravelry you promised a free copy of the shawl pattern. I have not received it. Is this some sort of scam????

“My pattern has not arrived as you promised. Please rectify this immediately”

I kid you not. These all genuinely landed in my inbox. The sender of the last email proceeded to send 4 or 5 more in tones of increasing anger at 1 hour intervals. Ending with a threat to report me to the unspecified authorities for fraud. Unfortunately they were in a different time zone to me and I was asleep.

Now obviously, people may get frustrated if they don’t receive something they have been promised. But on the Ravelry page and the subsequent email chain I did explain in detail how to access the free pattern. I think the Mailchimp did get a bit overwhelmed at one point and so the automated responses may have been a little slow, which didn’t help.

But the immediate reaction, to dash off a hasty and yes, rude email shows a basic lack of courtesy and a lack of appreciation that they are dealing with a real life human being. A real person who has worked an 8-hour day outside the home. A real person who has dealt with homework crises, mundane domesticity and a dead washing machine. A real person who is presently trying to achieve the impossible of 8 hours quality sleep.

I did receive many lovely thank you messages too - which outnumbered the rude ones by quite some amount. I’m not asking for sympathy and I’m aware that in the scheme of things this is a very small thing.

Nevertheless I feel it shows a real lack of awareness on the part of a very small number of people. I’m sure that none of those people would have been intentionally rude to me in person, but put a keyboard in the way and their communication style was very different. And at the end of the day, this amount of angst over something which can be purchased for just under £3.50 (around $5) seems to be lacking somewhat in perspective.

Courtesy. A small word but such an important one. Please and thank you cost nothing whether you are speaking online or in person.

There, rant over.

As you were.

Serious preparation required

Time for some serious list making today as Stash Dash looms large in my knitting calendar. My basket of unfinished objects is starting to make me a little twitchy, I must confess but they have to wait until May 26th until I can gleefully cast them off and count them towards my 10K goal.

Because Stash Dash is all about maximising your knitting time I am taking advantage of my restlessness now to compile a list of all my stash dash projects. I have them listed in Ravelry too but as a committed bullet journaler I like to have all the information to hand in my trusty journal too.

I've tried many knitting trackers and apps over the years but I always come back to the tried and tested paper option. In order to try and minimise the amount of time spent faffing with lists I tend to use Ravelry to track my progress and yarn amounts used. But I can't help being drawn to some beautiful ideas on Pinterest for tracking project progress. This idea in particular really caught my eye - but don't say you weren't warned. The combination of knitting and bullet journalling is a complete Pinterest black hole.

How to create a slipped stitch shawl edge

If you have knit the Fuss Free Festival Shawl you will have noticed that it has a slipped stitch edging which helps to give it it’s distinctive relaxed crescent shape. Whilst it is isn’t difficult to work a few people contacted me for help as they found it hard to visualise how the stitches should look.

So to help I thought I would just create this mini tutorial just to show how the stitches are slipped.

To start with, all slipped stitches in the pattern are slipped purlwise, by which I mean that you insert the right hand needle tip into the first stitch on the left hand needle as if you were going to purl it.

The instructions say to Sl 1 pwise wyif - ie to slip 1 stitch purlwise with the yarn in front. To do this you start with the yarn hanging down at the front of the work. Leaving the yarn where it is, insert the right hand needle tip purlwise into the first stitch on the left hand needle and slide it across to the right hand needle. You don’t knit it or do a yarn over - the stitch is simply slipped, unworked to the right hand needle.

Then, move the yarn between the two needle tips to the back of the work ready to work the next stitch.

The next stitch is an increase - where you knit into the front of the next stitch, pull the loop through on your right needle tip but don’t slip it off the left hand needle. Instead, insert the RH needle tip into the back of the same stitch. Pull the loop through onto the RH needle tip and then slide both stitches off the LH needle. This creates an increase.

The next stitch is slipped purlwise in the same way as the first. So bring your yarn between the needle tips to the front of the work and then slip the stitch purlwise.

I hope this helps you to visualise the beginning of the shawl. Once you get into your rhythm you will find it to be a relaxing and fun knit - I promise.

Yarn with a mind of it's own

Don't you just love it when yarn has a mind of it's own? By which I mean that it virtually shouts at you what it wants to be. It saves so much time spent dithering around, trying out and rejecting ideas, endless Ravelry surfing and general indecisiveness.

As soon as I got my mitts on this delicious alpaca yarn from We Are Knitters it practically shouted at me "Make me into a cowl - now". Then it added "Please", because of course it is a polite and well behaved yarn.

So, who am I to argue? This 100% alpaca yarn is listed as a worsted weight but part of its appeal is that it can be worked on a range of needle sizes depending on the effect you are aiming for. I am thinking of a relaxed, drapey cowl - ideally one which can be wrapped once or twice around the neck. 

For this reason, and also because I am planning a little cable action too I'm thinking of starting off with a 5mm needle and will see how I go from there.

First things first, coffee and a quick scout around for my needle case, then I can crack on and let the yarn do it's thing.

Why I block Instagram followers

Now, it's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Instagram. I love the community feel there, I love the chat and I love the woolly inspiration that I find there on a daily basis. What I'm much less keen on is the rise in fake accounts, in 'pay for follow' activities and general spamminess which gets in the way of my daily dose of fibrey goodness.

I recently logged in to find a rush of over 300 new followers which, to say the least was mildly surprising given that I usually get an average of 10 new followers per day. Closer inspection showed that all my new 'fans' were from non-English speaking accounts. And judging by the 'duck-face' selfie pouts and fairly scanty clothing I'm guessing that most of them weren't interested in knitwear of any description. The mystery was solved a few hours later when I had a direct message from an account saying that they had given me the 'gift' of 300 new followers, and if I paid them a sum of money they would be happy to send more fake followers my way.

Quite apart from being contrary to Instgram rules I found this to be pretty disturbing to be honest. Yes, my follower numbers had taken a huge boost - which was nice - but they were all fake and I'm sure they would have all unfollowed over the next few weeks. It felt horrible knowing that they were there, falsely inflating my IG stats and also I didn't like the fact that if someone viewed my 'followers' page they would see a whole host of the aforementioned duck-faced selfies.

So, I sat down with a cup of coffee and deleted them all - yes - all of them. The main account and a handful of others I also reported to Instagram for good measure. It took some time but it felt so much better and I genuinely felt relieved at the end of it.

Since then I have started to review my new followers on a regular basis and any which are obviously fake or engaged in a 'follow for follow' program I remove and block so they don't show up any more on my followers count. Just this morning I had a new follow from a charming looking gentleman, seated on the bonnet of his shiny Mercedes overlooking a tropical beach. He has 2 posts to his account and followed over 1000 people. I'm pretty sure he isn't my target market - and with 1000 followers he will hardly notice 1 less. 

My IG account now feels happier and healthier and I see far less of the sudden drops in followers that can occur periodically as all the follow bots kick in and unfollow those who don't follow them back.

I feel that I can focus more on relaxing, chatting and engaging with those wonderful woolly folk around me, and spend less time worrying about fake followers.

Although, maybe with hindsight I could brush up on my selfie pose - it clearly needs work.

How to keep track of your Stash Dash total

There has been a lot of discussion and questions about the actual process of taking part in Stash Dash and whether it is cumbersome to keep track of exactly how much you have knitted. As ever in so many things knitting related Ravelry comes to the rescue.

By entering the amount of yarn you have used for a project Ravelry will automatically calculate the exact amount of yarn used (in meters and in yards). For example, for a shawl where you have used 1.5 skeins of a sock weight yarn - you can just enter 1.5 skeins (or you can do it by weight - 150g) and Ravelry will work out the rest.

To make life even simpler you can set up Ravelry to keep a running total of your total. Just assign each completed project a tag (eg StashDash2017) and then you can set up a filter to just show you all of those projects - and at the bottom it proudly displays your running total. With zero effort on your part.

If you've never done this before go to your notebook page and click on the ‘organise’ tab.

Then click on the button to ‘create a new set’. You just need to make sure that you enter your stash dash tag exactly as you've used it on your project.

Then when you go back to your main notebook page you will see a new tab across the top for StashDash2017. You can then click on this to see all of your Stash Dash projects neatly in one place.

In these screen shots I have shown you the one I set up for last year - I do hope it helps. After all Stash Dash is meant to be about maximising your knitting time so it makes sense to let Ravelry take care of the maths.

Withdrawal

Does anyone else experience withdrawal symptoms when they are away from my stash? In my case this manifests as a strong desire/need to cast on All The Things as soon as I return home. 

We had an amazing and fun weekend in London celebrating our boys' birthdays and on coming home I should have either been relaxing with a cup of tea, keeping the mellow mood going - or doing laundry and getting ready for the school week. Instead I found myself pawing through my stash and seriously contemplating winding 5 skein of sock yarn (in my tip of a kitchen) so that I could start a Find Your Fade shawl (or similar). Never mind that a particular skein of yarn has been in my stash for over 2 years. I have to knit it and knit it now.

Fortunately DH knows me well and lured me away with a well timed glass of Prosecco - otherwise I dread to think what the consequences might have been.

I was sensible and knit on a sock (whilst drinking the lovely Prosecco) and disaster was averted. Tonight through I feel might not end so well. I definitely need something soothing and gartery on the needles.

How to get your afterthought heel in the right place

As much as I love the afterthought heel I know that not everyone is convinced and one of the most common questions I hear is from knitters who worry that they won’t know where to place the heel to ensure a good fit.

This is one of the most common concerns and is heard a lot with toe-up sock knitting in general.

With cuff down socks it is very clear. You knit the leg until you have a length you are happy with - for me it’s 6.5”, for my husband it’s 7.5”. The you knit the heel, then you work the foot.Simples!

With toe-up socks it is more of a leap of faith. Standard instructions tell you to start the heel between 2-2.5” before the back of the heel ie total foot length minus 2 to 2.5”. If you get to the leg and find that the heel is in the wrong place, then a bit of judicious ripping is required.

With an afterthought heel this is a rather more unnerving prospect as once your heel is cut, there isn’t much room for error.

The best advice I can give for this, which will also increase your confidence, is to practice doing a few standard toe-up socks first with either a basic short row heel or a fish lips kiss heel. Learn where the best fit point is for you - you can put in a lifeline if needed so that if you do make an error in the heel placement you can just rip back to the lifeline and not worry about lost or dropped stitches.

Make a careful note of the exact length for your ideal heel placement then use this measurement when doing your afterthought heel.

Also - my best tip for making sure you get a good fit is rather than measuring the toe-up sock flat, actually slip it onto your foot and use a bulb pin or similar to mark the point on the base of the sock where the cut should go. For my UK size 6 foot, this is usually at 7.5” from the toe (with sock slightly stretched). My total foot length is 9.75”

Armed with this information I can now pretty much pop in an afterthought heel (for me) wherever I am, safe in the knowledge that the sock will fit me fine.

I hope this helps ease the nerves somewhat. If you do decide to be brave and give it a go - do let me know how you get on.

 

Project overload

Too much choice?

Too much choice?

It was inevitable. Yesterday in a fit of pre Stash Dash planning I pulled out all my WIPs and neglected projects and piled them up in a heap on my bed. And then I sat back and looked at them. 

I'm not going to outline them all because to be perfectly honest with you I felt a sense of shame and overwhelm that I find quite hard to put into words.

In my house I have, let's be frank a lot of money tied up in projects that have lain untouched for months and years. And in an age where austerity and very real hardship is a problem for so many people I have to say it made me feel incredibly sad that my WIPs had got to this level. I am lucky enough to be able to buy beautiful yarn and yet some of it is yet to see the light of day and again.

I have no wise words or cunning plan today I'm afraid. My tried and tested list making skills failed to help as itemising it won't make the problem better. Equally, shoving it all back under the bed won't help either but that was the solution I opted for.

One day, when I have steeled myself I will go back and pick out a few projects at random and make a decision on them. Frog it or finish it. I'm not going to number them or set goals for myself right now but by the end of Stash Dash I'm hoping to have considerably fewer bags under the bed and hopefully a lighter heart too.

Lists of lists

So, today I'm all about the lists and a bit of organisation. I have decided to get all my ducks in a row before the start of Stash Dash 2017 in an effort to beat my total from last year when I completed 14 projects with a total of 7826m.

Poor planning on my part meant that a few larger projects were finished up in April and May when in actual fact I could have saved them up and counted them against my finished Stash Dash tally.

This year I would like to pass the 10K mark - I know - why do we do it to ourselves. But, show me a challenge and I can never resist.

Phase 1 of my cunning plan involves assessing all my sock WIPs and seeing how much work is needed on them. Short answer - a lot. I'm aiming to get each one to around the 75% complete mark and then in the first week of stash dash I can have a burst of finishing and give myself a bit of a motivational boost into the bargain.

I does mean of course though that I'll need to cast on a few more things - so that I have something to work on as May 26th (the official start date) appraoches.

If you'd like to find out all the rules and requirements for Stash Dash please follow the thread on the Knit Girlls Ravelry group. Their next podcast episode is promised to be all about the event - so you are far better off getting all the information direct from them.

Right, now I think I might just go and set up a spreadsheet or two.

To finish or not to finish...

It's a dilemma that most knitters will empathise with. I have at a conservative estimate 5 pairs of vanilla self stripe socks in various stages of completeness. Most of them are toe-up with an afterthought heel and at least 2 pairs could be finished in an evening if I put my mind to it.

My problem of course is that Stash Dash starts in just 3 weeks - on May 26th - I think (but don't quote me on it). Under the rules of this annual event all yardage from a completed project counts towards your Stash Dash total - no matter when it was started. So I could wait until May 26th and then whip a load of afterthought heels in and easily get the first 1000m or so under my metaphorical belt.

But then, I'm feeling the urge to finish a few things and free up some project bags. Oh.. and I've run out of sock needles too. Decisions...

 

Insert lovely blog post here

This blog post was intended to be a review of my yarny activities over the weekend and a quick recap of events around the country for Yarn Shop Day. 

However through the wonders of social media I have found out some more behind the scenes information about the day that have made me question my former enthusiasm for the 'official' event.

I knew that some yarn shops were participating officially and that some werent. What I wasn't aware of was that yarn shops had to pay to be included in the official event as advertised. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this information, particularly in a community which is overwhelmingly inclusive. Like many knitters in the UK I like to support as many indie yarn sellers as I can whether they be local Yarn shops or online indie dyers or online yarn sellers. They all play a pivotal role in keeping our UK knitting community vibrant and alive - and let's face it our knitting world would be a pretty sad and dismal place if we had to resort to shopping solely in the 'big box' craft stores.

As a result I have pulled this blog post while I have a rethink and find out some more background information. As a blogger I feel that I have a responsibility to know more about the events I talk about here and maybe I was slightly naive in some of my earlier assumptions.

Goodness me - that's all pretty serious stuff for a Monday morning. Im going to suggest some calming knitting and a cup of coffee. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

 

Happiness is... a new sock knitter

It's a thrill that never gets old no matter how many times I see it. The thrill of teaching someone the basics of sock knitting and watching their eyes light up as suddenly they get it.

The smile when they realise that because the right side is always facing them, they don't have to purl to create a beautiful, flat stocking stitch fabric. The huge grin on their .ca e as they turn the heel and realise that for the first time they have managed to turn their 2D flat tube through 90 degrees.

And the sense of accomplishment when they Kitchener stitch the toe stitches closed.

It's a thrill that always fills me with joy and it's one of the many reasons that I teach sock knitting to others. I can't think of a better way to spend local Yarn Shop Day than by sending off 6 new sock knitters into the world.

Stand back - its huge

I'm really pleased to report that the worsted version of my Fuss Free Festival Shawl is off the needles.

2 skeins of gorgeous, squishy Malabrigo Rios practically flew off the needles and I have to say that I'm really pleased with how it has turned out. It did grow - a lot - on blocking though and with hindsight I think 5mm needles (I used 5.5mm) would have been sufficient.

I will be updating the Ravelry page but for those of you assessing your stash or planning a purchase here are the basic details.

Yarn: 1.92g Malabrigo Rios worsted in Arco Iris. 369m (403yds)

Needles: 5.5mm circular 80cm length

Finished wingspan (relaxed) 70". Finished depth 15"

The result is a long, wrappable and super squishy shawl. Perfect for colder weather or as a light later in places where the air con is a little fierce. 

I will be updating the Ravelry pattern with the details over the weekend. Now is also a good time to mention that the Fuss Free Festival Shawl is free if you sign up to my email newsletter but this offer will be ending on May 8th. After this time it will revert to being a paid for pattern only.

 

 

Saying goodbye

Today seems the perfect time to wear one of my favourite pairs of socks I've ever made. Simple toe-up socks with a fish lips kiss heel and made from yarn from an outstanding indie dyer.

Today is the funeral for our friend Heather aka Sparkleduck. Appropriately enough for such a big Star Wars fan, on May 4th. I was lucky enough to meet Heather at shows and events over the years and we both shared the same LYS - The Sheep Shop in Cambridge.

Visiting the shop was always a great treat but made even more so by the wall of gorgeous Sparkleduck which greeted you when you walked in. Rifling through my stash after Heather passed away I was struck by how little of her yarn I had. And then I realised that was because I have most of it away. Sparkleduck yarn was always reserved for special gifts because, Well, it was special.

Whilst the news of Heathers sudden passing has shocked us all I take a lot of comfort in knowing that her work will continue to spread happiness and joy for many years to come. As knitters, dyers and other creative folk the work that we do lives on long after we do. Cherished blankets and shawls provide a tangible link between the past and present in a way that other material goods cannot. People years from now will still be treasuring the things we make today and that is such a warm and happy thought. 

So, on this difficult day why not take a few minutes to work on something special and weave a few positive thoughts and happy memories into it as you go. In years to come you never know who might find comfort and happiness in it.

 

4 ways to support your LYS - without buying yarn

Limited edition LYS Colourway from West Yorkshire Spinners

Limited edition LYS Colourway from West Yorkshire Spinners

Saturday May 6th is Local Yarn Shop day here in the UK - seriously one of my favourite days of the year.

I am lucky enough to be teaching a Socks for beginners class at my LYS - The Sheep Shop in Cambridge and afterwards Third Vault Yarns will be doing a talk and Trunk Show which is all very exciting.

We are so lucky to have exciting and vibrant local yarn shops here but I know that there are certain areas of the country where this isn't the case and it's important that we show our LYS's some love all year round - not just on May 6th.

So here a few ways you can support your LYS

1. Buy yarn obviously. I could be preaching to the converted here (in fact I suspect I am) but even though online buying is quick and convenient nothing beats the squish factor. Getting up close and personal with your intended purchases is far more satisfying than through a computer screen.

2. Tell your friends about it. Word of mouth is a great tool in encouraging more people to visit an LYS. Alternatively leave an online review for your LYS to help inform others.

3. When you do visit an LYS - share it on social media. Check in there on Facebook and show off your purchases. It all helps to share awareness among your wider social group.

4. Participate in Knit Nights or other group events in the shop

5. Even if you are on a yarn diet, do you need new needles, stitch markers or scissors - every little helps.

If you aren't local to Cambridge there are some fabulous events going on around the UK. You can find a list of participating stores here.

If I was further north I would most certainly be making a beeline for the Countess Ablaze's new dye studio in Manchester for one of her legendary soirees. Or in London, Anna at Wild and Woolly is hosting a fabulous event featuring The Wool Kitchen and Travel Knitter amongst others.

It's going to be a fabulous day. Whatever you do - even if it is just leaving an online review for your LYS or telling a friend about them I hope you enjoy the day and that you can help to share the love for our LYS's.

 

Fickle Steps - a new sock design

Fickle Steps by Louise Tilbrook Designs

Fickle Steps by Louise Tilbrook Designs

After months of keeping it under wraps I am really pleased to let you know that I have a new sock design published - in a fabulous new magazine called Rib.

Aimed at men who knit and those who knit for them this is only the magazine's second issue but it has already built a considerable following on Ravelry and on Instagram. They have a wonderful clean and pared back aesthetic and the designs in this issue all have that immediate appeal that makes you want to grab your needles and cast on immediately.
I was so pleased to be able to work with them and also to have to chance to work with some fabulous yarn -Nomade - from Julie Asselin

Fickle Steps is a pattern for a unisex cuff down sock with a design that is fun to work and easy to remember.

There are some great sweater patterns in this issue too and I can see them appealing to both men and women. The Survey Pullover for example would make a great addition to my wardrobe!

I do hope you pop over and take a look at the magazine and I'd love to know what you think.

 

A new KAL you say? Oh.. go on then...

Fuss Free Festival Shawl by Louise Tilbrook Designs

Fuss Free Festival Shawl by Louise Tilbrook Designs

And why not? Its a bank holiday in the UK and a project this simple and straightforward practically knits itself.

We all love a good excuse for a cheeky bank holiday cast on, so why not grab a skein of lovely sock weight yarn and join us. No rules, just lots of fun and garter stitch.

Join us over on the Everyday Knitter Facebook group or use the hashtag #fussfreefestivalshawl on social media so we can all see what you are working on.

The pattern is still free for another week or so if you sign up to my email newsletter so if you haven't snagged a copy yet you might want to while you have the chance.

May Sweater Challenge

May is the perfect month to concentrate on a little bit of sweater knitting. Never mind “Summer knits” and wafty linen tops. We know that the british weather is fickle at the best of times and you can be very glad of a warm woolly sweater on an August bank holiday in this country.

Even if the weather gods smile on us and we have a glorious summer, by starting a sweater now you have a great chance of having a fabulous new addition to your autumn wardrobe.

Sweater knitting also ties in very well with the #memademay challenge. Predominantly an initiative started by sewists this also extends to anyone who makes elements of their wardrobe by hand. There are some inspirational blog posts on the subject and this is a hashtag I love to follow on Instagram, along with #handmadewardrobe and #slowfashion.

If that wasn’t incentive enough there is also #milomay - an annual KAL for the super cute and very adaptable Milo vest - a pattern by Georgie Nicolson. This has been running for a few years now and there are some wonderful examples on Ravelry of knitters who have taken this fabulous pattern and really made it their own.

And just to add the cherry on top of the cake, starting a sweater gives you are great boost on your Stash Dash total. I’ll talk more about Stash Dash in the coming weeks - a lot more as it is a real favourite of mine - but for now just bear in mind that it starts towards the end of May and runs until August. Seasoned Stash Dashers will be already planning their summer knits with this in mind.

So, what are you waiting for? Just a suggestion but these are a few ideas for how you can participate in the #maysweaterchallenge.

  • Dig out your unfinished sweater projects and either rip them out or finish them.

  • Challenge yourself to knit your first garment - baby knit totally count.

  • Cast on a brand new shiny sweater project - yes I know - this is my favourite option too.

  • Organise your stash and pair up your ‘sweater quantities’ of yarn to patterns in the queue.

As ever, there are no knitting police. Set your own challenge and be sure to head over to the Everyday Knitter Facebook group to join in the fun and chat. Hope to see you there.