Designs

A new design and a realisation

This week saw most of my plans crumble like a soggy digestive. A recurring inner ear problem put me firmly out of action for a few days and meant that my lovely neat content calendar went disregarded - seriously cross - I used coloured pens and everything.

But I did manage to launch my new shawl design - The PPS* - which I was really pleased about. And a huge thank you to everyone who has been in touch, bought the pattern or talked about it to their friends. I really appreciate it, and seeing it on the front page of Ravelry patterns (albeit briefly) was a huge boost - Thank You.

In the past though I would have been stressed about what I was not doing, about things that I “should” be doing. They were in my planner for heavens sake - therefore they must be done.

This time though I listened to my inner voice - the one that sounds uncannily like my Mum. Telling me that I really couldn’t do it all. That trying to battle on through a horrible combination of vertigo and seasickness was never going to end well. And that it was OK to just take a few days off.

And so I did. And I have to say that it felt really good. Maybe, just maybe that pesky inner voice knows what it’s talking about sometimes.

*The PPS - why the name?

It stands for the Pattern Please Shawl - which if you are a member of any online communities (Facebook - I’m looking at you) you’ll instantly recognise as the pesky phrase that pops up repeatedly when people share their work but don’t share every last detail of the pattern/yarn/needles. I’m easily amused, I know but I quite like the idea of people asking “pattern please” when folk share an image of their completed shawls to which the response can quite legitimately be “why yes it is, how did you guess”

I told you I was easily amused - although judging from your response I think that quite a few of you also share my sense of humour

Comfort Blanket KAL

Well, that escalated quickly.

So many of you were so enthusiastic about me running a Comfort Blanket KAL that I dived in with both feet and have now got the pattern page up on Ravelry and ready for your purchasing pleasure.

For a serial prevaricator like me you’ve no idea how unusual this course of events is. I can dither for weeks sometimes before hitting the Ravelry publish button.

The KAL kicks off on Monday 8th April and will run for 8 weeks, but please don’t worry. I’m not expecting you to knit a blanket in 8 weeks, I promise.

Each Monday, you’ll get a pattern update on Ravelry and it will alternate between a pattern for a particular mitered square, and self-care tips and suggestions. On Ravelry at the minute there is a pre-KAL Information sheet available for download after purchase. That just sets out the key dates for your diary and gives you a bit more information on the closed Facebook group for the KAL and some basic information on yarn/needles.

If you’d like to find out more I’ve summarised it HERE

And if you are ready to jump in and join me for the most gentle of KALs - just click HERE

Any questions? Just drop me a quick email and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.

How to make felted dryer balls

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Whilst casually scrolling through Pinterest and various zero waste websites I came across a number of references to tumble dryer balls. For the uninitiated these are balls (no surprise there) that you put in your tumble dryer in order to speed up the drying process.

Mr Amazon of course sells packs of these in various shapes and sizes - most of them plastic - which didn’t really appeal to me. Then I came across a reference to tumble dryer balls made of wool and of course my keen knitterly senses perked up at this.

A bit of Googling later and some kitchen experimentation I found myself with quite a bowlful of these cute felted balls. The jury is still out on the whether they categorically reduce drying time but my goodness they are such fun to make - and of course a fabulous way to use up an scraps of 100% wool you happen to have about your person.

I’m sure there are a variety of techniques available for doing this but when I shared photos on Instagram so many people asked about them I thought i would share it here:

HOW TO MAKE FELTED TUMBLE DRYER BALLS

  1. You must use 100% wool for this

  2. Also be aware that strong or deep dye colours in your wool run the risk of colour transfer to your laundry so choose accordingly.

  3. Start of with a small core of tightly wound sock yarn (any yarn will do for this) - about 5g in weight, or if you have any spare roving/yarn ends scrunch these into a small walnut sized ball.

  4. Take your 100% wool and start to hand-wind to form a round ball. Rotate it carefully to ensure an even round shape.

  5. The balls in the photo use approximately 20-25g wool

  6. Once wound, break the yarn and tuck the end in firmly

  7. Once you have amassed 4 or 5, stuff them into the cut off leg from an old pair of tights. Put one down in the toe, then tie a knot. Then add the next ball and tie a knot. Continue until all of the balls are encased - with a knot between each one to stop them felting together.

  8. Throw the balls in with your laundry for a few cycles of washing and drying

  9. Then remove them from the tights and hey presto - cute, fuzzy yarn balls.

How to work the clasped weft join

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I suddenly developed a passion for knitting scrappy socks with leftover sock yarn. Having previously shunned them for fear of having to weave in All The Ends, I discovered the Clasped Weft Join and became positively evangelical about it.

Simple to do, no needle is required or any faffing. You don’t even need scissors if you can just snap the yarn by hand. It takes less than a minute and you are up and running with your new colour.

Sounds too good to be true? Just try it - and I’m sure you’ll be a convert too.

I uploaded a short video of how I do it, as it really is easier to see it in action than to try to write out a tutorial. It’s the first time I’ve ever uploaded anything to YouTube so please be kind - I may need to hire my teenaged sons to be my social media managers at this rate.

And we're off...

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The Precious Metals Sock KAL starts today - and I have to admit I’m just a little bit excited. It seems like ages since I did a sock KAL and I’ve really missed it.

The first installment should be in your inbox, if not now, then very shortly.

If you haven’t yet signed up there’s still time, just click this link to subscribe .

I’ve also created a pattern page on Ravelry - please do generate your own project page and share your progress with the hashtags #preciousmetalssockskal and #preciousmetalssocks

Happy Knitting

Mickelby Cowl

This was originally part of a collaboration with Eden Cottage Yarns and now this cowl pattern - my Mickelby Cowl - is on general sale on Ravelry with a little early bird discount - although if you are a newsletter subscriber please check your inbox first for a little extra discount*.

This is a quick and really straightforward knit which looks way more complicated than it really is.

If you have always shied away from colourwork or filed it away in the box marked “too scary” I promise that it’s a lot simpler than it looks. The slip stitch pattern means that you only work with 1 colour per round and it’s really addictive - a real “just one more round” kind of project.

And, as an added bonus it is a snug fitting cowl - it uses only 50g of sockweight yarn with 2 x 10g mini skeins - ideal for stashbusting purposes.

So there you go, quick, easy and thrifty - what more could you want.

*The discount codes apply until March 2nd

You can buy the pattern here, and if you’d like to sign up to receive notifications on future pattern releases as well as the forthcoming sock KAL you can sign up here.

A geeky sock post

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If you are a member of the UK Sock Knitters Group on Ravelry you may already know about their year-long KAL themes. It was a challenge from them a few years ago that first got me started on my sock designing journey - I think it was a seasonal theme and my first “proper” sock design Winter Footsteps was as a result of taking part.

This year though, they have surpassed themselves with a Periodic table KAL - inspired by a love of all things to do with Chemistry. As a biochemist by training this immediately appealed to my inner science geek and I couldn’t wait to come up with some ideas based on this theme. The group is great fun and very low-stress - with all manner of tenuous connections to the monthly theme accepted, even welcomed.

Last month was Hydrogen and so I knit socks with bright pink yarn from Truly Hooked - called Big Pink Beaver (Hydrogen - water (H20) - Beaver)

This month the theme is for chlorine or iodine. As you can probably tell from my colour selection I opted for the yellow/green of chlorine. Additionally I’m having fun with a cable design which is based on a 17 stitch panel (17 being the atomic number for chlorine).

It’s been a while since I designed a cable sock pattern and it’s really enjoyable to get the squared paper out again and wrestle with a few numbers.

Even if you aren’t up for another challenge right now, do go over and check out some of the projects on the group. It’s really inspirational stuff.

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!