Designs

Pure Luck socks

 Pure Luck socks

Pure Luck socks

It seems that new designs are like buses - you wait for ages and then a few come along at once.

Today is October 1st - the start of Socktober and what better way to celebrate than with a new sock pattern.

These are toe-up socks with a little difference in the toe detail. Perfect if you want to try something different for your next toe-up pair.

You can find all the details over on Ravelry - and if you use the code SOCKTOBER at checkout you’ll get a 25% discount with my compliments.

There will be a few more Socktober happenings as well during the month so be sure to check in for news - or sign up to my newsletter so you don’t miss out.

Click here to jump to the pattern

Self Care Cowl

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Well, this is a surprise. Last time I checked my publishing schedule for the last 4 months of the year definitely didn’t include a cowl. Socks - yes, a shawl - yes. But definitely not a cowl.

This skein of Malabrigo Chunky had other ideas though and was originally a plain knit cowl that I never wore. I had knit it in the round at a slightly too-tight gauge and it always gave me the feel of wearing a neck brace.

So I ripped the yarn back and decided to see what would happen if I knit the cowl flat with a textured slip stitch pattern. As it turns out, it makes all the difference and creates a wonderful warm, smooshy texture and 1 skein is enough for a not-too-snug cowl, perfect for chilly autumn mornings.

If you subscribe to my newsletter please check your inbox for a special discount code. For those that don’t (please do think about it - I promise not to spam you) there is an early bird 25% discount until 1st October. Please just use code SELF-CARE at the Ravelry checkout.

You can buy the pattern here.

Chunky yarn and large needles make for a super quick knit and it’s no exaggeration to say that I knit this cowl, the whole thing, in an afternoon. It’s the perfect knitting project for when you need some self care time. Turn your phone off, stick Netflix on and spend a few hours treating yourself to a fun, luxurious knit.

PIN FOR LATER:

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The power of positivity

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I've said before that if knitters ruled the world we would have the whole world peace thing sorted out before tea time. And the events of yesterday I think have proved me right - at least in part.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to take part in a collective launch of an online initiative which was the brainchild of the Countess Ablaze. You can read the whole back story here but basically she issued a challenge to indie dyers, designers and other online creatives to come up with a design or yarn based on her iconic colourway "If I Want Exposure I'll Get My Tit's Out". And at 12 noon yesterday over 250 folks did just that - launching their #titsoutcollective products upon the internet.

I was hopping backwards and forwards between Facebook and Instagram and even managed to snag a skein of yarn for myself as well as launching my own design - the Erika Cowl. It was a busy, exciting and uplifting way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Each participant had to choose a charity to donate a proportion of their proceeds to and I can't wait until the end of the month when we all submit our sales totals. The original yarn from the Countess raised over £3000 for a charity and I can't wait to see what our collective efforts will unleash this month.

As with anything online these days there were a number of negative comments too, which was a shame but ultimately did not detract in any way from the huge wave of knitterly positivity that swept through the internet yesterday. People discovered different indie dyers, new dyers sold out of yarn faster than hot cakes and the whole thing was just so inspirational that I was hugely proud to have taken part in it.

If you haven't already done so, please do check out the #titsoutcollective hashtag on Instagram. And if you are a member of the Everyday Knitter Facebook group do keep your eyes out for a cheeky little group project later in the month. It will be a chance to show off your "Tit's Out" purchases in a fun show of support for the Countess and the fabulous project she has pulled off in just 2 weeks.

 

 

Why it's not OK to share patterns - even free ones

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One of the most common misconceptions that I come up against in my daily online chat is the enduring myth that it is OK to share patterns as long as they are free. Most people understand and accept the copyright issues around paid patterns but for free ones it seems that it is still very much fair game.

As a designer who makes a significant chunk of her income from online pattern sales I do still make a few of my patterns available for free and I choose to do this for a number of reasons.

I have a baby cardigan pattern which I use for class teachings - the Fuss Free Baby cardigan - and I also make it available free via my Ravelry store. On there I ask that if people use and enjoy the pattern that they consider making a donation to Bliss (a UK charity for newborn and premature babies) which is a subject very dear to my heart.

For every copy of this pattern that is given to a friend, or photocopied or shared (or photocopied and sold on Ebay - yes, that really does happen), that is a lost opportunity for a hard working charity to receive a donation.

Sometimes I will make a pattern available free for a limited time in order to achieve a specific marketing goal. Apologies if that sounds cold and calculating but at the end of the day we designers are trying to earn some form of living from this. As an example the Fuss Free Festival Shawls was available as a free download for a time in order to encourage people to sign up to my newsletter. I was very clear that this was for a limited time and that after the promotion had ended it would revert back to being a paid pattern.

Once the shawl was for sale though I still had a bit of battle with folks who thought it was fine to email copies of it to their friends on the grounds that they “got it for free and so it was only fair to give it to others”.

Sometimes a pattern is free, just because I want to offer it for free. But I would still like people to download it from Ravelry, favourite it, talk about it and generally help to spread the work to other people who haven't come across my designs yet. All of these things help to boost a designers visibility online and can really help to make a difference to the success or not of future pattern sales. A photocopied sheet or emailed screenshot really doesn’t achieve the same results and in the crowded online space of pattern sales all those little bits of exposure really do add up.

Nothing boosts a designers profile more than lots of happy knitters chatting online or in person about your latest fun pattern.

And to those knitters who already do go above and beyond to support and promote the work of indie designers - a heartfelt and very woolly thank you. Your enthusiasm makes everything we do worthwhile.

PIN FOR LATER

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Shawls for spring

 From left: Worth the Fuss shawl, Fuss Free Festival shawl, KISS shawl.

From left: Worth the Fuss shawl, Fuss Free Festival shawl, KISS shawl.

After what seems like the longest winter ever, I am thrilled to see that here in the UK it does finally seem as though Spring has arrived. We actually have some warm sunshine today which is so very welcome after what feels like weeks of mist, fog and grey gloom. Of course, as is always the way, it's also the day that the kids go back to school after the Easter break - c'est la vie.

I don't know about you but spring always makes me think of shawls. They make for such great layering and transition pieces. With our ever changeable weather here in the UK it can be a guessing game trying to decide what to wear each day and a scarf or light shawl can provide a perfect layer of additional warmth and then then be tucked into your bag as the day warms up. Providing warmth without the commitment (and potential heat exhaustion prospects ) of a full on knitted sweater.

I'm always amazed when I hear of knitters who have never knitted or shawl or who "don't get them". There still remains a perception that shawls are for "old ladies" and for many people the word shawl conjures up images of a large, woollen triangular affair, possibly with a fringe. Wrapped around the shoulders of dear, sweet, grey-haired old lady.

In fact, one glance at the work of Stephen West for example should be enough to dispel this myth forever. Bright, colourful, and exuberant. His designs are the antithesis of the traditional image and like anything in knitting are infinitely adaptable to fit your own wardrobe and aesthetic. So for the next few weeks I'm going to be celebrating my love of shawls in all their wondrous variety. I'm going to be looking at shawl shapes, different construction methods and also some all important styling tips on how to wear your beautiful creations.

If you have a shawl related question or something you have always struggled with please do let me know. Just leave a comment below or pop over to the Facebook Group join in the discussion there.

And just to celebrate the arrival of my favourite (if fickle) season, I've set up a discount code in my Ravelry store. Just use code SPRING for 25% off the price of 3 of my most popular shawl designs: Worth the Fuss, Fuss Free Festival Shawl and the KISS shawl.

In the meantime I couldn't leave you without a message from the man himself. If you haven't seen this before please make sure you aren't watching on public transport in case of accidental guffaws. He is priceless and his attitude to shawl wearing is something I think we can all aspire to.

Yarn with a mind of its own

 Yarn is Manos del Uruguay, Allegria. Colouway Orchid.

Yarn is Manos del Uruguay, Allegria. Colouway Orchid.

After wrangling a new sock yarn purchase for most of the afternoon and battling pooling in it's various guises my yarn and I sat down to have a full and frank exchange of views.

After a glass of wine we decided that actually it didn't want to be socks, that it had never wanted to be socks and that I was cruel and heartless for trying to persuade it into a nice, simple plain vanilla sock.

So, I took the yarn's advice and cast on for a nice garter stitch Fuss Free Festival Shawl instead.

And now everyone is happy.

The moral of the story is clear - sometimes you just have to let the yarn win. And also - a glass of wine helps most (but not all) knitting dramas.

All in for the Ravellenics

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You know me, I can never resist a challenge. Especially when it comes with a cast iron excuse to sit on the sofa and watch lots of sporting action. The Ravellenics - held on Ravelry are a great excuse for that and for weeks now I've been plotting and planning the perfect combination of projects. 

Of course, as knitters we should know that real life never runs that smoothly and I suddenly found myself needing a new travel project a short notice. I have just released my newest shawl design - the KISS shawl - which is a stocking stitch shawl knitted from side to side with a lace border worked as you knit. All the time I was knitting it though the recuring thought running through my head was "I bet this would look really cool in garter stitch".

Most things look better in garter stitch in my opinion. So, this was the perfect project to pick. I know the pattern anyway so there was none of the awkward set up phase. I could just cast on and knit.

Now, just to spice things up a little I am going to Unravel this Saturday and so the next thought that popped into my head was "Wouldn't it be cool to be able to wear this to the festival?"

I really need to have a word with that inner voice of mine...

So, here we are. 5 days to go and 350m yarn to knit. Totally doable I know - I just need to focus and not get distracted. If you see me browsing the Ravelry queues or surfing Instagram feel free to prod me and get me back on track.

KISS Shawl - a new pattern release

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It's a beautiful sunny day, crisp and clear and the perfect day for a new pattern release.

The KISS shawl lives up to its acronym of Keep It Simple Stupid as it is super simple to knit. Starting and ending with just 2 stitches there's no complicated cast on nor do you have to bind off a billion stitches. The lace border is knit on as you go, so at the end  you can just bind off and wear it with pride.

It's perfect for the special skein of sock yarn that you have squirreled away somewhere and because it is knit side to side you can really maximise the yarn you have. Just weigh the yarn periodically and once you have used half you start the decreases. It really is that simple.

The sample here is knit in the fabulous Nether Alderley 4ply yarn from Yarns from the Plain - a beautiful yarn which drapes really well when knit at a relaxed gauge.

The body of the shawl is worked in stocking stitch which really shows off a hand dyed yarn. But if your yarn has speckles or pops of colour it would look equally fabulous with the body knit in garter stitch instead. Or you could knit two version - one of each and see which you prefer.

You can find the pattern here - and there is an early bird discount too (until midnight Feb 9th) - if you are a newsletter subscriber though do check your inboxes as you have something a little special.

Either way, there's no better way to celebrate the coming of spring (allegedly) than with a new shawl.

Worth the Fuss Shawl

 Worth The Fuss (WTF) Shawl - sample knit in Eden Cottage Yarns Titus 4ply (Starling)

Worth The Fuss (WTF) Shawl - sample knit in Eden Cottage Yarns Titus 4ply (Starling)

If you've knit the Fuss Free Festival Shawl (and even if you haven't ) this shawl makes a great follow on project if you are looking for something with a little bit more detail. Garter stitch is interspersed with easy-to-count eyelet rows to add texture and interest.

The eyelet rows also have the pleasing effect of increasing the drapiness and maximising the length and depth of shawl that you can get from one skein of 4ply sockweight yarn - ideal for making the most of that precious yarn.

This sample is knit in a precious yarn indeed - Titus 4ply from Eden Cottage yarns in the Starling colourway. If you haven't seen this colourway before keep an eye on Victoria's shop for coming updates (and maybe even sign up to her newsletter to make sure you don't miss it). It's a grey - so of course I love it already - but it has tiny shots of yellow/green/brown - which when viewed as a whole really does remind you of a birds plummage. Its truly stunning and well worth seeking out if you get the chance.

The What The Fuss pattern has a 50% discount from now until the end of October. Just head over to the Ravelry page HERE and use code WTF.

I also have a version on the needles using some beautiful mini skeins which would be an ideal stash buster - so watch this space!

 

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.

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.

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....

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!

BOB Socks - the Heel

 BOB Socks: Build on The Basics socks by Louise Tilbrook Designs

BOB Socks: Build on The Basics socks by Louise Tilbrook Designs

The heel uses the wrap and turn method. If this is new to you, then this tutorial is well worth a look. It's a simple method but it might be worth a little practice first just to make sure you get it straight in your mind before attempting the heel. The heel is worked back and forth on needle 2, so work across the 1st 32st on needle 1, ready to start:

K31, W&T, always ensure wrapped st is slipped back to right hand needle, turn work.

P30, W&T

K29, W&T

P28, W&T

Keep going in this fashion - working 1 less st each time (to 1st before the last wrapped st)

The final row is P10, W&T. You will have 10 central sts and 11 wrapped sts on either side. For the 2nd half of the heel you will work back across each of these wrapped sts, wrapping them again.

K10, k 1st wrapped st (pick up wrap and knit it together with that st), wrap next st (this will now be double wrapped) and turn.

P11, p 1st wrapped st (together with its wrap), wrap next st and turn

K12, this will take you to the first double wrapped st, pick up both wraps (from bottom to top) and knit them along with the st, wrap next st and turn

P13, pick up both wraps (from the front, bottom to top) and purl them along with that st, wrap next st and turn.

Cont in this manner, work until 1st double wrapped st, pick up both wraps from front of work (bottom to top) and work with that st, wrap next st and turn.

Continue until all st have been worked and you are ready to commence working in the round again.

 

 

Summer of speckles

I defy you to look at this beautiful speckly yarn and not want to cast it on immediately. Isn't it just wondrous? I treated myself to the summer yarn club from Vykky at West Green Loft Yarns and I was the lucky recipient of this sunset-inspired skein. It also came with a beautiful semi solid purple which matches it really well - but I'm totally blindsided by the speckles to be honest.

Between this and the Rusty Ferret yarn I am using for my second BOB socks (see previous post) I am declaring this my summer of speckles. I am mostly going to be knitting with speckled yarn. 

Now I can't deny that the odd bit of grey or semi-solid might creep in there. I'm only human after all and I do have a couple of commissions on the go where others yarns will be needed but for now, I'm happy to get the ball winder out, cake up this beauty and bask in enjoyment of fresh, speckled yarn cast on.

If you fancy joining me in some speckled yarn love - please use the hashtag #summerofspeckles. Always happy to be enabled into some new speckly yarn purchases.

Early morning knitting

In the great scheme of things I know that British summers are a bit of a joke in general. Once the temperature stays above 25 Celsius for a few days we generally all start to be a bit limp and secretly longing for cooler days. To other countries this is generally quite amusing but once you bear in mind our almost universal lack of airconditioning - in all but the nicest and most modern buildings, then hopefully we might seem a bit less like a nation of whingers.

Anyway, heatwave or not the knitting must continue. I'm quite glad I chose socks for my first #instakal rather than a shawl as socks are ideal for even the hottest of weathers. I use metal Hiya Hiya needles and so if my knitting gets a bit hot in my hands I can just set them down for a few minutes and they cool right off. If things are really hot and sticky I just bung the knitting in the fridge for a few minutes and that does the trick nicely. Luckily my family are a very tolerant lot in general and no one minds in the least opening the fridge to find my project bag sitting on top of the cheese!

So, this morning sees me up bright and early - getting in a few rows before the house wakes up. Just me, my knitting and of course, my coffee. I'm powering on towards the heel as I want to get the directions for next weeks installment ready and tested before the weekend.

I'm so enjoying seeing everyone's progress on Instagram. When you have a minute be sure to browse the hashtags #instasockkal and #bobsock for some great inspiration.

 

The BOB Sock KAL starts here

When casting on for a cuff down sock I prefer to work 1 row flat before joining to work in the round - to reduce the risk of accidental twisting. Using long tailed cast on, cast on 64 st onto your circular needle.

Set-up: k1tbl, p1 to end.

Join to work in round, being careful not to twist and place marker to indicate beginning of round. Work in twisted rib (K1tbl, p1) to end, until cuff measures 1.5” from cast on edge.

For the original Bob sock I knit the first and last 4 stitches of each needle in twisted rib - for this second version I chose to work them in garter stitch - you can of course just knit these plain if you prefer.

Leg: Ribbed panel option

N1: (k1tbl, p1) x 2, k24, (k1tbl, p1) x 2 N2: repeat as for N1

Work each rnd exactly the same until cuff measures 7” (or desired length) from cast on edge/

Leg: Garter panel option

Rnd 1 N1: p4, k24, p4 N2: repeat as for N1

Rnd 2 N1: k all st N2: repeat as for N1

Repeat these two rounds until cuff measures 7" from cast on edge.

Introducing BOB - a basic sock for beginners

Meet BOB - short for "Build on the Basics".

This is a sock which is ideal for a beginner but also offers something a little different from the standard basic sock. If you want to try a cuff down sock without a heel flap and that doesn’t require Kitchener stitch to graft the toe - then you are in the right place.

This pattern is for a 64st sock - sized to fit a foot circumference of 9” 

Eventually this pattern, with expanded sizes and design options will become a paid pattern on Ravelry but just for now, I’m offering the basic version in weekly installments for your knitting pleasure. There is a pattern page there however for those of you that like to track your projects. The purpose of this post is to let you know what materials you need so that you can get started when the first installment comes out on Monday (June 19th, 2017).

Installments will be posted here and also on my Instagram account . If you want to save the installments to your Instagram 'collections' just click on the little bookmark symbol to the bottom left of your screen.

For these socks you will need:

Yarn: 100g sockweight yarn (4ply) of your choice -  Speckles or self stripe make the knitting more fun. 

Needles: I use 2.25mm Hiya Hiya sharp interchangables with an 80cm cable. We are aiming for a gauge of 32st and 44 rows to 4”. Please adjust your needle size if necessary to obtain correct gauge.

Skills: if you can knit, purl and knit 2 together you can knit these socks. There is a different type of stitch - the wrap and turn - at the heel but I’ll talk you through this.

 Technique: throughout the knitting of these socks I will be using the magic loop technique with 32 stitches on one needle and 32 stitches on the other. You are of course welcome to use your preferred method of small circumference knitting and I will give the directions for needle 1 (N1) which covers the 1st 32st, and needle 2 (N2) which covers the 2nd 32st.

I'm really excited to run this KAL in a slightly different format to my usual ones and I hope you are too. I'll be back on Monday with the first installment but if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.

How to work a rounded toe

A few people asked about the rounded toe on my latest sock - specifically about the fit. This is the best photo I have to show it but it is really comfortable. A little roomier than a standard toe but so far no complaints at all. And of course, the added advantage is that there is no need for Kitchener stitch. To work the toe was super simple too. On 64st:

K6, k2tog to end

K6 rnds

K5, k2tog to end

K5 rnds

K4, k2tog to end

K4 rnds

K3, k2tog to end

K3 rnds

K2, k2tog to end

K2 rnds

K1, k2tog 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.


 

 

 

Morning Pages - a hug in shawl form

 Morning Pages.

Morning Pages.

Now I appreciate that my timing may be a little off here but please indulge me. This shawl was originally conceived back in February but then had to be set aside for some commission work and it was a few months before it saw the light of day. As soon as it was finished though I knew that I just had to share it with you - because everyone needs a large worsted weight shawl in the middle of a summer heatwave - don't they?

It uses 3 skeins of the glorious Cumbria yarn (a worsted weight) from The Fibre Co and it was inspired by listening to the wonderful Kate of the A Playful Day podcast. She was talking about getting up early in the morning to work and write whilst her tot slept on, and even though my boys are a little older now, this is something I can totally relate to. Even now I often set the alarm for 5am to get my important tasks for the day out of the way before the rest of the house wakes. And our kitchen gets pretty cold in winter.

So, the Morning Pages shawl is a really generous, wrappable shawl which is technically semi-circular but is actually shaped like 3 sides of a square - but Ravelry don't have a classification for a three-quarters square. The garter stitch gives a great squishable texture and the contrast bands of stocking stitch really allow your chosen contrast colour to pop out. This is a great one to play with colour combinations and be a little adventurous.