Starting today - a special offer and a prize draw

August is a big month for me as it marks my birthday and this year is especially exciting as it is my 10 year knitting anniversary.

To celebrate I am going to be offering a 21% discount on all of my self published patterns - I'm not 21 anymore but a girl can dream, right?

In addition, to mark my knitting milestone I have put together an exciting prize package from my (ahem...) extensive stash. Each use of the exclusive discount code - 21TODAY - will earn 1 entry into a prize draw for said lovely package.

I'll be sharing details of the prize over the next few days but it includes yarn and notions from some of my favourite indie people - ideal for sock knitting on the go.

So, keep an eye on your email inboxes over the next days to make sure you don't miss out.

Until the end of time

The rational part of my brain tells me that I'm almost done. That just 15" of stocking stitch in the round (and a bit of ribbing) is all that stands between myself and a finished Breathing Space sweater.

My knitters brain points out that between the narrow stripes, the frequent colour changes and the endless untwisting of both sweater and yarn - I'm going to be knitting this sweater until the end of time. Or until hell freezes over. At least I'll be glad of a warm are when it does.

Sleeves truly are my nemesis and next time I firmly resolve to knit them first once I've separated for the body. In truth I would have done this in this project except for the fact that I was worried about striping in the 2nd skein of grey as it was quite different to the other. Well that, and the fact that I forgot to.

The thought of boosting my stash dash total really is the only thing keeping me going at the minute. Well, that and cake. Please send tips for how you see deal with sleeve island. 

Snacks would be nice too 😀

 

Being brave

Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and go for it, whether it's applying for a new job, making that dreaded phone call or tackling your next big project.

If you've followed me for a while you'll know that I'm no stranger to the fine art of procrastination. In fact it's probably fair to say that I could procrastinate for my country if it were ever to become an Olympic event.

For ages now I've been wanting to do a Facebook Live in my group (Everyday Knitter). I've planned it, rehearsed it, imagined it but never actually taken a deep breath and done it. Various excuses have included "I'll just wait until I've had my hair cut" and "I need to find the right shawl to wear".

Yesterday I listened to the very inspiring Making Good podcast with Jen Gale. There was a whole episode about making more out of Facebook and using it to best advantage. Jen is so down to earth and practical that I just thought - "why the heck not".

I was going to wait for the right time (I even scheduled it in my diary) but then I found myself with 10 child free minutes and just took a deep breath and went for it. I was very nervous but people were very kind with their comments and I'll definitely be doing it again. I'd like to do a weekly slot where people can ask questions and each week I'll pick one at random to answer.

Sometimes you need to take leaps of a smaller scale too. This skein of gorgeous yarn from Goldings Yarns has been sitting patiently in my stash. It came in the Mystery Gems package from The Little Grey Girl a while ago now and I've been saving it for that "perfect project".

But in the interests of "just going for it" and as an antidote to the horrible grey weather we are having at the moment, it's going on my needles today.

Bright, cheery, fearless socks are on the way.

 

 

3 tips to power up your knitting

Now I like a nice meditative knit as much as the next person but there are times when you do just need to power through something. Whether you are knitting to a deadline or whether you have 10" of plain, grey, stocking stitch sweater to plough through there are times when you just want to put your "foot to the floor" and knit as fast as humanly possible.

The next time you find yourself in that situation why not try these few simple tips to speedier knitting?

Use super slick and shiny needles: As slick as you can get away with without your stitches flying off the needles. I like Addi Turbos in particular for lots of stocking stitch. The points aren't the sharpest but they really are super speedy.

Front load your stitches: Scoot as many stitches as you can to the tip of your left hand needle. That way you don't have to pull the next stitch to the top of the needle - it will already be there.

Knit at the tips: Knit each stitch right at the tip of the left hand needle - but be sure to wrap the yarn fully around the wider part of the right hand needle as this is what determines the tightness of each stitch.

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Eyes down and why not see how much you can knit when you really put your mind to it.

 

 

Yay for new socks

Toe-up socks in yarn from West Green Loft Yarns 

Toe-up socks in yarn from West Green Loft Yarns 

There's truly nothing better than new socks, finished just in time for #FOFriday and the weekend. Being able to gift them to a friend is an added bonus. This is one of those projects that I'm almost sorry to see finished.

The yarn was from the summer yarn club by West Green Loft Yarns and is a joyous mixture of bright pastels. I really love knitting with this type of yarn where you have more colour than just "pops" but not enough to have longer colour runs and cause all types of issues with pooling. I have no idea how Vykky does it, but I'm just pleased that she does.

These socks have been riding around in the car with me for weeks now as my in-car travel project and we've become good friends. But I know that my friend will love them and I get to rummage in my stash for my next plain vanilla pair of socks in waiting.

Happy weekend one and all

X

A new monthly challenge: Cables

This month over on the Everyday Knitter Facebook group we are all about the cables. Whether you are a complete cable newbie or you are planning to embark on the world's most epic cable sweater I hope you will pop over and join us.

I'm going to be doing a few blog posts and mini tutorials on the subject of cables with the first one being how to do simple cables without a cable needle. This is a super handy, nifty little technique that will leave you feeling like a total knitting ninja. And it's also useful when you have lost your one and only cable needle down the back of the sofa.

If there is anything about cables that you've always wanted to know or learn please let me know and if I can do a tutorial or anything to help I'll certainly try.

I'm also in the process of creating a Pinterest group for the Everyday Knitter. A place where we can put popular patterns that we talk about regularly and a place to browse for inspiration and ideas. I'll create a cable board too so that you can see some of the great cabled projects that folks are trying out.

Whether you are working on a cabled sock on a beach or getting ready for winter with a cabled afghan I hope you join us. Cables are one of my favourite things in knitting and I'm excited to be chatting with you about them this month - it's going to be a good one.

 

We are not at home to the knitting police

Just the other day on a Facebook group I saw a comment which started innocuously enough but by the time I had read the thread to the end I had steam starting to come out of my ears. And so, another slightly ranty blog post ensues.

I hasten to add that it wasn't the Everyday Knitter facebook group where this thread happened and I'm not going to name it for fear of adding fuel to the flames. I think I've said enough over there for the time being. Anyway, it started out as a comment about people learning to read charts and whether there was any advantage in being able to do so.

There then followed lots of helpful advice with people merrily debating the pros and cons of each. There then followed a series of far less helpful and constructive comments which is when my right eye started to twitch ever so slightly.

"Knitters who read from charts are lazy" 

"There is no reason to use charts when all the decent designers provide written instructions"

And my personal favourite "Charts are antiquated"

By this time my blood had started to boil and I had to step away from the laptop. 

Seriously, why on earth do people think they have a right to criticise others for how they chose to assimilate pattern directions. If they think the use of a chart is lazy what does that say about the use of stitch markers, or heaven forfend, lifelines. Why not go the whole hog and insist that we all knit complicated fair isle in mercerised cotton whilst adhering to directions written over 2 pages of densely packed 8 point Arial font? Surely anything else is just bone idle?

As soon as people start asserting the viewpoint that there is only 1 way to do things I know it's time to back away slowly. Strangely enough, this 1 way, this solitary way always seems to coincide with the speakers way of doing something and they are never backwards at coming forwards with this view.

Faced with the Knitting Police - whether they appear in front of you in public and whip your sock from your hands, or whether they are behind a keybaord on a Facebook group I now employ the tried and tested technique which got me through many a visit from the Health Visitor when my boys were babies.

Simply *smile, nod, ignore. Repeat from * to end.

Disclaimer: In case anyone were to think I am maligning health visitors let me be clear. They do a wonderful job in difficult, trying circumstances. We had 3 HVs during our baby days (prem babies, lots of TLC needed - won't bore you with the details). 2 HVs were wonderful, sainted creatures who made me tea, dried my tears and told me that despite all my protestions to the contrary I wasn't the worlds crappest mum. The third was awful. Opinionated, bossy and never failed to make me cry. I learned to deal with her by employing the above advice and it worked a treat.

For want of a scale.

Yes of course. I always make copies notes on a pattern I'm knitting. That way when I leave it under the bed for 6 months I know exactly where to start from when I pick it up again. I wish!
Someday, maybe I'll learn to do this. But for now I've just lost an hour of my life sorting it out, thinking I knew where I was, then ripping back to start again where I actually was. Sigh!

It really is a lovely pattern though. Very wearable and I've no idea why I abandoned it for so long. Then of course as I knit further and get my mind back into the project I remember. The second skein of grey yarn (Baby Elephant colourway from The Uncommon Thread) is quite a bit lighter than the first skein I've already used most of. Striping it in won't be a problem I don't think but I needed to make sure I left enough to also stripe it in for the sleeves too. 

And for want of a digital scale ( my old ones broke last year) this poor project has sat unloved for many months. It only took a few minutes to whip out my old scales and wind off 10g for the sleeves.

Now I'm back on track and motoring down the waist shaping.

And yes, in case you are wondering, this does mean that my Windswept sweater is if they needles. It is currently blocking in a secure cat free location - photos to follow shortly. For a triumphal FO Friday post no less.

Second verse same as the first

Knitting away on my Starting Point shawl I find that this refrain "Second verse same as the first" keeps flitting through my mind.

The rational part of my brain knows that any shawl which calls for 5 x 100g skeins of 4ply yarn is going to involve A Lot Of Knitting. But then there is the cold hard reality that dawns when you complete the loveliness that is the end of Clue 1. You smooth it out, you admire and pat it, you weave in the ends... oh OK, You got me there. You know me too well.

Then you realise that you have to make another piece exactly the same before you can dive into Clue 2. Sigh!

Still, this time around I know what it should look like and it's fresh in my mind so I can just steam ahead. 

In case you are wondering, I'm keeping the textured stitches to a minimum so I just have the ribbed section for yarn 2 and i'm replacing the eyelet rows with plain stocking stitch - it's just my personal preference.

BOB Socks are released

After all the fun of the #instasockkal over the past weeks I'm really pleased to say that the BOB Socks pattern in it's entirety is now available on Ravelry. It is a paid for pattern but it has already gone out as a free pattern, with my compliments to my newsletter subscribers.

If you aren't a subscriber and you sign up by August 1st then a copy will also wing it's way to your inbox. Please click here for all the details you need to know.

If you missed the details, this is a super easy and very customisable cuff down sock, entirely suitable for a beginner with a go-getter attitude. It cunningly avoids a heel flap and gusset by using nifty short rows and if you are averse to Kitchener stitch then this holds no fear for you. A rounded toe does away with the need for toe grafting - making for happy knitting all round.

All you need is some fun sock yarn - speckles and self stripe won't make the knitting go any faster but they certainly don't hurt.

After August 1st the pattern will revert to just having the paid for option but there will be a few additional sizes - don't worry though - newsletter subscribers will get these as well. And if you use the free download code that comes along with it, you can also add it into your Ravelry library and stay abreast of any pattern updates that way too.

Chronic Indecision

Eden Cottage Yarns Starting Point MKAL Pack 12

Eden Cottage Yarns Starting Point MKAL Pack 12

My knitting time today should be devoted to sleeve knitting and swatching for a new design submission. This little yarn delivery is calling my name however and I'm trying to resist.

This is Pack 12 from Eden Cottage Yarns and is destined for a Starting Point shawl.

This was originally released as a Mystery KAL and obviously now I know what it looks like it isn't exactly a mystery, but how it is put together intrigues me so I'm still planning on knitting it clue by clue, without reading ahead.

I absolutely couldn't decide on colours and yarns for this. In fact if you added up all the time I've spent rootling in my stash and surfing web sites I could have probably knitted the darned thing already.

So in the end I let the lovely Laura at Eden Cottage Yarns take care of it and send me one of their brilliant KAL packs. It's absolutely perfect and I'm so pleased with the colours. I love some of the really vibrant ones I've seen on Instagram and Ravelry but I asked for more subtle colours for my own pack - just because I know they will go with more of the colours I already have in my wardrobe.

After all, if I'm going to spend an eternity knitting this thing (and my, it is quite an undertaking) I want to be able to wear it at every opportunity.

And now for some sleeve zen

I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who took the time to contact me yesterday after my "knitting at sporting events" mini rant yesterday. It really seems to have struck a chord with many of you and I loved some of the stories you mentioned in return.

Several people mentioned the wonderful lady who knits at US hockey games and who often appears in photos and news feeds. She was roundly criticised on social media for knitting during the games but, here's the thing - the team players think she is wonderful and leapt to her defence. Have a look for her on Twitter where she is @PensKnittingLady - surely a modern knitting hero?

In calmer news today I am cultivating a state of zen-like sleeve knitting. My Windswept sweater now has the sleeve stitches picked up and I'm attempting to whizz along with my mini circulars despite the best attempts of end-of-school-term chaos to throw me off course.

Nope, I absolutely don't want to spend two hours painting a cardboard box yellow for you school disco fancy dress outfit but thank you for asking. Instead you can go as Charlie Bucket (check shirt and scruffy jeans) as you have been doing every other year.

My cunning plan is to get both sleeves to the point where the decreases start and then magic loop them two at a time - we will see how that goes.

I doubt that this will be an FO this week, but for next Friday - you never know.

Please knit appropriately

Places I have knit include (but are not limited to): school halls, church halls, churches, cathedrals, cinemas, sporting events, Olympic events, rugby fields, carparks, traffic jams, airports, trains, cafes, restaurants, museums. Hell, I've even knitted over tea at the Ritz.

In none of these places has anyone ever suggested that knitting is not an appropriate thing to do, nor has it generated the remotest amount of interest - except maybe when a lady took my sock off me in a cafe and told me that it wasn't possible to knit a sock on small circular needles (clearly overlooking the evidence she was holding).

The fact that a woman knitting at Wimbledon is enough to cause comment is something guaranteed to get my goat.

It would be bad enough if the comments were on the mainstream media but this discussion took place in a Facebook group for knitters. I am firmly of the 'live and let live' camp and I was pretty miffed to see so many comments along the lines of 'There's a time and place for knitting, and this isn't it'. Seriously, who is anyone to judge what someone else does with their time? I can't link to the thread as it ended up being deleted but to be honest it made for pretty unedifying reading.

And yes, if this sounds familiar you are quite right. The same thing happened back in 2012 and the BBC even ran a news story on it, And here we are in 2017 with similar comments and even comments that she is somehow wasting a seat because for the micosecond in which this photo was taken her eyes weren't on the match. If you did a quick headcount of all the people on Centre Court who were yawning, dozing, scrolling their mobile phone or daydreaming I'm sure you would find a good number who weren't fully focussed on events on the court. 

Imagine the headlines if a man were to be seen looking at his mobile phone during the 3:30 at Newmarket? Or someone gently dozing in the sun at Lord's. Would anyone even raise an eyebrow? But a woman, in public, knitting - hold the presses.

Wouldn't it be just fantastic though if it were a man knitting. How many social stereotypes could be broken in one sitting. The BBC would be mobilising the Newsnight team surely?

Nearly there

Fuelled entirely by caffeine and a desire to meet my revised stash dash goals. 

This morning I am determined that the body of the Windswept sweater will be off the needles and then I can dig out my trusty short circulars for the sleeves. I have learnt long ago that sleeve knitting and I can never really be firm friends and the only way that I can battle though them is to treat them like a plain vanilla sock and knit them on small circulars.

It's very strange when you think about it. Give me a lovely sock yarn and small circs and I'll merrily knit on them until the cows come home. Give me a sleeve on small circs and I hate and loathe knitting on it. I think it's the twisting and the untangling that comes along with having a sweater body attached to it. No matter what I try to I always seem to end up wrestling the rest of the garment as I try to knit.

A while ago I heard the Knitmore Girls talking about sweater knitting and I'm pretty sure that Jasmine mentioned that she knits the sleeves of sweaters right after the yoke and sleeve separation has happened. At that point there is hardly any sweater body to get in the way so you can knit the sleeves unencumbered and then go back and do the body,

That sounds like a fine plan and one that I wished I had remembered at the time. 

Next time... next time.

Stash dash: Or the quiet revaluation of goals

Windswept sweater in progress. Yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, colourway Scree

Windswept sweater in progress. Yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, colourway Scree

As you may remember from the blog last week I have been quietly contemplating my rather rash 10K goal for stash dash, after the somewhat depressing discovery that my crocheted, stripe blanket was rather smaller than I remembered it being.

As a result I took to rootling under the bed for some (very) long-neglected WIPs and came up trumps with this one. It is a Windswept sweater - pattern by Tin Can Knits which I started well over a year ago. All was going swimmingly with it as I recall. I had done the yoke, which is worked flat, separated for the sleeves and even sorted out the tricky overlap section to start working the body in the round.

Then, for reasons best known to my past self I had set the project aside without noting where I was on the lace panel chart (because of course I'm normally so good at doing that - not). When the time came for me to pick it up again, of course I couldn't remember what line was I up to so I did what I normally do and hope for the best. That didn't work, obviously and after another round I realised that I had totally messed it up.

I did what every normal, sane knitter would do with such a project. I stuffed it under the bed and went to cast on a shawl instead.

I'm pleased to report that this has a happy ending anyway. To my shame it really only took about 10 minutes to tink back, fix the lace panel and work out where I was - once I had a strong cup of coffee under my belt.

So, now I'm firmly back on track, steaming my way down the body and contemplating devious means of knitting the sleeves two at a time (to avoid my usual bout of sleeve paralysis). It may not get me to my 10K goal but it might help me to a respectable 7K with a bit of luck and a following wind.

BOB Sock - The Toe

With huge apologies for the delay. This 4th and final installment of the BOB Sock KAL should have been up here yesterday but my blog site and my phone have decided to stop talking to each other. I have had to bring in my laptop big guns and given them dire warnings to sort out their communication difficulties.

So, without further ado - may I present the instructions for completing your BOB Socks - by working a rounded toe.

 

*K6, k2tog, rep from * to end

K6 rnds

*K5, k2tog, rep from * to end

K5 rnds

*K4, k2tog, rep from * to end

K4 rnds

*K3, k2tog, rep from * to end

K3 rnds

*K2, k2tog, rep from * to end

K2 rnds

*K1, k2tog, rep from * to end

K1 rnd

K2tog to end

Break yarn and thread back through rem 8st using a tapestry needle. Pull tight and weave in end.

I would normally at this point say that your socks should be gently blocked but I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes to pull them on triumphantly parade about in them.

Or maybe it is just me....

Miracles take a little longer...

There used to be a sign over an office desk where I worked a temporary job. "The impossible we can do right away, miracles take a little longer".

I was reminded of this yesterday as I surveyed my Attic24 Granny Stripe blanket which has been in hibernation (aka under the bed) for an embarrassingly long time. In my head I was merrily thinking that this blanket could be finished this summer and would happily boost my stash dash total and help me on my way to my 10k goal.

The only problem seems to be that my blanket has shrunk while it was in storage. I was quite sure that I had done more than this. But the cold hard reality is that I have maybe done 8 or 9 inches on what is a double bed sized Afghan. Never one to give in without a fight I entertained the thought of doing a stripe per day and getting it done that way. Conveniently ignoring the fact that stash dash ends in mid August and we have a foreign holiday booked between then and now.

Out of interest I timed myself - and found one colour stripe (2 rows) takes an hour. 

At this point it is pretty obvious that this blanket might be fine in time for stash dash - but it will be in 2018!

If anyone wants me I will be drinking coffee and quietly evaluating whether to scale back my 10k goal to something slightly more achievable.

Sock knitting and stash diving

This month, the Everyday Knitter Facebook group is all about stash diving. Even those of us with slightly more modest stashes than my own yarn mountain have a few precious skeins. You know the ones. The ones we keep squirreled away in case of dire knitting emergencies. The ones that we bring out to pet every now and again, to sniff, to ruminate over it's endless possibilities -  and then we tuck it back neatly away out of sight.

So, this month we are celebrating the joy of untapped potential hidden in our stash. Pick a glorious skein of yarn and show it off. Pair it with a beautiful pattern and you're all set. For extra brownie points this should be an item for yourself. I refuse to use the term selfish knitting when discussing knitting for oneself. Instead I prefer to use the word indulgent. Our crafting time is precious and it's only right that we should enjoy it. What could be better than working on something you love, in yarn you love and knowing that you'll get great pleasure in wearing or using the finished object as well.

Sounds like a win, win to me.

Not just pretty nails

To the casual observer this is just a pretty shot of some yarn and a frivolous and fun manicure, but to me it's so much more. To me it represents everything I love about our wonderful and warm online community.

The Jamberry nails were bought from an online friend - Natasha (@coxabey on IG) who I've never met (yet) in real life but we share a love of yarn, fibre and funky nails. The bag was bought from another friend - Gem of Little Grey Girl - who I got to know online and then in real life and who now is a partner in crime when it comes to yarn shopping and hanging out in hipster bars.

Vykky of West Green Loft Yarns - is a newly discovered indie dyer for me and I've yet to meet her in person but as with so many people in the knitting community I just know that we would get on like the proverbial house on fire. 

We all have a shared love of fibre and crafts and in these peculiar and rather stressful times there is something rather lovely about being able to seek refuge in my little woolly corner of the internet. The online knitting community is a warm and wonderful place and just occasionally I wonder at how my life has changed since I first picked up knitting needles and discovered online knitting forums, and then of course Ravelry when it first started. It's certainly a lot more colourful and a lot more fun and every day I'm grateful for it and the yarny friends I've met there.

BOB Sock - The Foot

Hello and welcome to the 3rd installment of the BOB Sock KAL.

You will be pleased to hear that it's a nice, easy one this week. All the hard work of the heel is behind us now and it's plain sailing towards the toe.

So, on needle 1 you are just continuing in the pattern as you were before, whether that's the panel of twisted rib stitches at either side of the foot or the garter stitch panels. The stitches on needle 2 are just knit plain.

Keep knitting until the length of the sock (from the back of the heel) is 2.5" short of your total foot length. Or, if you want to try it on and measure it that way, the slight stretched sock should just reach to the base of your big toe.

Next week we will work the rounded toe and finish with a triumphal non-Kitchener stitch ending!