It's the little things...

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Relax, there will be no mention of a certain, over inflated, over commercialised V-word day today. I don’t hold with the idea of picking a specific day to celebrate love to be honest. Although, while we touch on the subject, ever so briefly, what the heck is Galentine’s Day all about, apart from just another excuse for card companies to make money?

For me, love is in the expression of the smallest of things. the things we do every day without making a song and dance (or a lavish Facebook post) about.

It’s me remembering to fill up the car with fuel before my husband borrows it. He knows how much I hate queuing at our petrol station - so it goes without saying that he appreciates the gesture.

My husband spends more time than he would like, probably, listening to me waffle on about yarn but he puts up with it patiently and sympathetically, because he loves me. And he knows that, just every once in a while he is the recipient of some of it. He commiserates when a project goes wrong and is genuinely happy for me and proud of me when things go well.

But, for services above and beyond the call of duty he has been known to help me wind, by hand, 2,000m of hand dyed laceweight yarn. Two whole kilometres of yarn!

If that doesn’t say love then I don’t know what does quite frankly.

A new KAL around the corner

The Bob Socks  - the last KAL that I ran via Instagram

The Bob Socks - the last KAL that I ran via Instagram

If you subscribe to my email newsletter you’ll have already had a sniff of this but starting in March, I’m going to run another sock KAL.

The last sock KAL I did was a simple, sock designed for the adventurous beginner and I ran it as a free, weekly installment type KAL over on Instagram. It eventually then became the Bob Socks, a paid-for pattern on Ravelry.

This time, to keep things a little tidier I’ll be running it through weekly email installments, and again the final pattern will be a paid-for one on Ravelry - with email newsletter subscribers receiving a free, gift copy.

If the thought of this fills your knitting heart with joy please do sign up to my email list - here.

And if you want to vote on whether it’s run as a true mystery KAL or with a photo upfront - vote here.

And as an added bonus. If you are taking part in the UK Sock Knitters Periodic Table KAL this year, the KAL socks will have a tie-in to the March prompt. What more could you want?

Colour Therapy

Whenever anyone asks me what my favourite colour is, my stock answer is always “Blue in general - Teal in particular”. But this latest project of mine is giving me cause to reconsider.

I am reknitting an older design of my own - the Garter Ripple Squish blanket - that I originally designed as a smallish sized baby blanket for a friend.

For some time now, you many have noticed, I have been wittering on about the size of my leftover 4ply sock yarn mountain and fearing that my entire stash space is going to be taken over by these cute, beguiling, self-multiplying balls of handdyed yarn.

I had been looking online at a whole host of stashbusting projects but having just finished a sock yarn, mitered square blanket I was in no hurry to undertake another 4ply blanket project - especially since it took me 3 years to finish it. During which time my sock yarn leftover stash was entirely undiminished - in fact it grew considerably.

So having seen a few marled projects - especially the Bobble Marley hat by Riverknits - I had a bit of a “What If…” moment. I grabbed 3 balls from my leftovers pile and cast on for a lap sized Garter Ripple Squish.

And it was love at first sight. There’s something magical about watching each colour blend into the next. And something pleasingly thrifty about being able to use up every last yard of yarn. I just knit until one of the three yarns runs out and then add in another one. I’m using the Clasped weft join for this and will leave the ends until after I’ve blocked it - before giving them a trim.

It’s so addictive, and on 7mm needles it is growing at a very pleasing rate indeed. And more importantly, I can report that there is definite shrinkage in the size of the leftovers mountain. It’s still there - but I finally have the sense that I have the upper hand in this battle.

Social media - You have more control than you think

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With social media it’s easy to forget that you can choose what you don’t see, but also, more importantly what you do see.

In recent weeks and in light of many conversations that are taking place about diversity and inclusion, I (I suspect like many others) have been reviewing the accounts that I interact with on social media. I was shocked to discover how homogenised my Instagram feed was at first. Even though I followed a diverse range of people, on closer examination I realised that the majority were very like me.

It’s certainly no excuse but it’s a fact of life that the internet reflects back to us how we most often see the world. Algorithms are very good at monitoring what it thinks we like and then giving us more of the same. So if we spend a lot of time commenting on pretty floral flat lays, or lovely skeins of hand dyed yarn, then that’s what it shows us more of.

Hence, my social media feed is often comprised of yarn, coffee and sometimes cats. There was a weird stage when Instagram kept insisting on showing me photos of those odd looking hairless cats. Heavens knows why - maybe it thought they needed a knitted sweater.

In recent weeks though I have been spending time purposely exploring new accounts from people with a diverse range of backgrounds (even some non-knitters) and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how quickly the algorithm picks up on that.

As well as choosing what we do see though, we also have the ability to choose what not to engage with on social media and to choose where we direct our energies. Instagram is a wonderful place in so many ways but it’s use as a platform for meaningful social interaction is limited to say the least. Comments are difficult to moderate and it is all too easy for well meaning words to be taken out of context. I’m not entirely sure how best we can effect genuine societal change when it comes to diversity and inclusion but I’m fairly sure that liking a few posts, adding a few comments and following a few new accounts is not actually going to do that much. Much less is it going to help to shout at each other across a Mark Zuckerberg owned social media platform.

I’m increasingly conscious of the amount of time I spend on Instagram and have started to use the “time limit” feature to help me manage my time better. Far better sometimes, rather than getting dragged into online debate and drama is to actually put down my phone and do something in the real world, whether that’s finding out more about local charities that I can help with, spending time with my young boys helping them to find their own way in the world or spending time on my own reading and education.

I guess this is just a long-winded way of saying that if someone is “quiet” on Instagram or any other social media platform, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing anything. Conversely, just because you shout loudly on social media about a certain issue it doesn’t mean that translates to anything meaningful in the “real world”. Social media is all well and good but at the end of the day, surely it’s the little things we do every day, the small interactions we have and the baby steps we take every day towards being a better human, that actually count?

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.

Why we knit?

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In the midst of all the social media noise it is sometimes easy to lose sight of why we knit. Or at least that’s how I’ve found things over the last few days and weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time (probably too much, if I’m honest) on social media recently - the fact that Instagram now tells you how many hours per day you have spent on the platform doesn’t help but certainly brings the issue into sharp focus.

Handing over this finished baby blanket to a newly created family of three this weekend though, really brought me back to why we knit in the first place. We knit because we want to create beautiful things. We knit because we want to put love out into the world. And for us (by which I mean Knitters with a capital K) we best express our love in the form of yarn and needles.

Watching the new, slightly sleep-deprived parents unwrap their gift and instantly wrap their new baby in it brought a little tear to my eye, and theirs. They had been through a long journey to become a family and in that moment they felt welcomed and supported as new parents in our small rural community. Yes, it was just a blanket. But it was a blanket knitted with love and good thoughts, and knit just for them.

And that feeling that we all had at that moment - that’s why we knit.

Little by little

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Blogging and writing is a tricky thing indeed. It’s very easy to get into a habit but conversely it’s very easy to get out of one too. A missed blog post one day, or not writing for a few days is such a simple thing but one that creeps up on you and before you know it you’ve missed a few weeks.

No one says anything - because of course everyone has busy lives - and to be fair they probably don’t even notice. But before you know it, it’s been weeks and you haven’t set (metaphorical) pen to paper.

Now, I love to write. In fact after knitting it’s my next best thing but recently I’ve got out of the habit. Putting your own work out there into the world, whether that be a knitting pattern or a piece of writing is not for the faint hearted or thin of skin. It’s easy to dwell on the negative voices, the voices that keep you small, the voices that tell you that you aren’t enough, that you aren't “good enough” or that you should somehow be better.

Gradually over time you start to listen to the voices and you don’t say anything at all. Keeping quiet is a good way to make sure you don’t invite any harsh words or criticism. But it’s also a good way to ensure that, in any debate, it’s those harsh voices that are heard loudest.

I’m a long -time follower of Jen Carrington and by a miraculous stroke of luck she has just started a 28 day free online course called “Write the Damn Thing”. It’s a course focused on overcoming your obstacles to writing - whatever they are - and just getting on with it. Jen has a wonderfully no nonsense approach and so I decided this was the perfect opportunity to get back into the writing habit. No excuses and no faffing.

My daily writings here for the next month will be just me, doing what I do normally. Knitting, writing and drinking coffee - cake may be involved.

I’ve no idea what I’ll write over the next month but I’m sure knitting will be involved.

The joy of socks

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I know that the Marie Kondo method is currently having it’s annual revival, courtesy of a particularly well timed NetFlix show and my social media feed has been full of neatly folded drawers and decluttering of epic proportions.

If you are new to the whole #konmarie movement it is based on Japanese principles and aims to streamline your home, your belongings and indeed your life by asking a simple question - does it spark joy?

The idea is that, when decluttering you take each item in turn and ask yourself whether it sparks joy before deciding whether to keep it or remove it from your house. Obviously I’m hugely oversimplifying this and there are some great books and YouTube channels out there devoted to just this thing.

Suffice to say that I tried it, for about 5 minutes and then gave up. I get the idea, don’t get me wrong and I can see how it might work if I wasn’t surrounded by two chaos creating young boys and a husband who is a determined and self-confessed hoarder.

One of the central themes of the #konmarie method is that all items in drawers should be neatly folded - yes even underwear - so as to prevent an unsightly tangle. If you don’t believe me just look on Pinterest for photo after photo of neatly folded knickers.

That was taking things a bit too far, even for me but I couldn’t resist making a few neatly folded sock boxes - just for the purposes of private amusement.

Have you tried the Kon Marie method? If you have I’d love to know how you made it work for you. I want to but it all just seems a bit too extreme for my liking.

Knitting and Inclusion

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This post has been brewing in my mind for little while now. Random thoughts and experiences have swirled around but stubbornly refused to merge into a cohesive piece. I’m still not sure they are fully formed to be honest but now seems as good a time as any to get them out of my head and on to paper.

I’m sure I’ve talked about this before and at length but the statement that “All knitters are lovely” has to be one of the biggest myths around. Yes, there are fabulous and wonderfully generous knitters out there. Knitters who give their time freely to help others and to share knowledge and experience. But knitters also represent a full cross section of society.

In short, knitters are human with all the faults and foibles that come along with that. If you talk to any group of knitters they will invariably say how welcoming and inclusive knitting is as a hobby, but scratch beneath the surface of this well meaning statement you’ll invariably find that groups of knitters can be anything but welcoming. Pretty much everyone can relate to an experience of being shunned by a cliquey Knit Night group for example, or been made to feel they aren’t one of the ‘cool kids’ on a Ravelry forum. It happens and it happens every day.

When people are recommending a group - either in real life or online they invariably say “Oh, everyone there is really lovely”, when in reality what they actually mean is “Everyone there is like me”.

In the Everyday Knitter FB group for example, I am known for calling out people when they start a post with “Hey ladies”. The idea that all knitters are automatically women just drives me nuts. And when you (gently) point out that the group has a significant number of men and non binary members, often it is met with anger or defensiveness. They generally insist they meant “no offence” but my point is always that it’s about inclusion and making everyone welcome in the group.

This issue has come to greater prominence in my mind after all the discussions centering around race and white privilege over on Instagram over the last few days. You can read more of the back story here and here. As the discussion unfolded, I like many other people who have benefited from white privilege realised that I had a lot of reading and learning to do.

Simply pick up a knitting magazine (with the notable exception of Pom Pom Quarterly) or attend a knitting show and it becomes obvious just how underrepresented people of colour are in our community. Whilst I had often noted it subconsciously, I was embarrassed to realise that I had never really challenged the reasons the lay behind it, nor had I questioned it further with folks within the industry.

Racism and discrimination is as rife in the knitting community as it is the general communities around us. That makes for very difficult and uncomfortable reading for many people, including me and it is clear that a great deal needs to be done to make the knitting community a genuinely more diverse and welcoming place to all knitters.

If, like me you are looking for a good place to start I can highly recommend the work of Layla F. Saad who has done amazing work in this area. And if you are looking to support and promote the work of POC within the fibre industry, do check out the Instagram profile of Marceline at @heybrownberry. In her Story highlights she is collecting a wealth of information on brilliantly talented fibre folk to follow.

Whether you love or hate the Instagram algorithm (mainly hate in my case) one thing it does tend to do is to reflect your own likes and preferences back to you. That means that if you mainly engage with the accounts of people ‘like you’ that means that in turn, only similar accounts to your own are suggested back to you. The more we change our behaviour by genuinely engaging with a more diverse range of people, then the more diverse our Instagram feeds become and hopefully the more welcoming our community becomes to knitters all of backgrounds.

I genuinely believe that the knitting community can do better and will do better in the future.

No cold sheep today

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I first wrote this blog post in January 2017 but as I read of another independent yarn store closing down it makes for more pertinent reading than ever.

FROM THE ARCHIVES:

Apologies in advance for the slight mini rant today but I have heard and seen so much online these past few days about 'Cold Sheeping' that I feel duty bound to try to redress the balance a little.

For those that don't know, the practice of Cold Sheeping refers to going on a yarn diet or a restricted yarn buying policy - akin to going 'cold turkey'. It is certainly a common feeling at this time of year to feel slightly overwhelmed by your stash, or to feel as though your house in general has way too much clutter in it to even contemplate buying anything more stuff. Heaven knows, I am certainly guilty of feeling a slight sense of panic as my formerly well-contained stash spills out of its neat wooden drawers and starts to set up home in other areas of my house (is it just me or does the stuff breed when you aren't looking?).

However, whatever the answer is I'm almost certain that it doesn't involve going on a yarn diet. For the simple reason that diets never work. If they did the diet industry would go out of business. Anything that advocates extreme restriction or denial will inevitably involve a backlash at some point and freed from constraint you will be gleefully hoarding pretty sock yarn again before you can say 'Blue faced Leicester'.

So, I am proud to say that there will be no Cold Sheep or yarn dieting here. This is a Cold Sheep Free Zone.

My stash is a thing of joy - it brings warm and woolly solace to dark days - and it means that at the drop of a hat (or the news of an imminent baby arrival) I can rummage in the stash, grab some needles and whip out something cute and giftable in less time than it takes to traipse into town to buy a congratulations card.

It must be especially hard at this time of year for our beloved LYS's and independent yarnies who have to endure all talk of 'cold sheep' with a fixed grin and a firm hand on their budgets. January can be bleak enough for any business but small, independent businesses feel the pinch more than most and a little support at this time of year could make all the difference. I know that budgets can be tight right now and appreciate that not everyone may have the funds to spend, but even if you can't take advantage of your favourite indie dyers latest update you can help spread the word by telling your friends or sharing it on social media. And if you are visiting your LYS but really don't want to buy more yarn you could always take the opportunity to stock up stitch markers or needles - you can never have too many of either.

So, this January I am encouraging you to give the Cold Sheep the Cold Shoulder. Embrace your stash in all its woolly glory and show some love to our fab independent business.

Normal service will resume shortly

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Gosh, its been a while since I last logged in. It turns out that a combination of flu, Christmas and a broken laptop isn’t at all conducive to blogging - who knew? I could say that I have been using the time to creatively reflect, set my goals and intentions for the year and plan our my next three months of blog posts. But in reality I’ve been hunkered in front of the fire knitting and eating my own body weight in Quality Street.

I’m normally raring to go in the New Year, fizzing with all manner of cunning plans and ideas. But this year, I’m just not feeling it. It feels like a time to be slow, to be reflective and just to to take my time emerging from our family holiday bubble. If you are struggling with this too then you might like to check out Kayte Ferris of Simple and Season. She has a great blog and podcast and her most recent newsletter was packed with tips for how to survive the next few weeks if the whole January “new year new you” thing just feels a bit too overwhelming.

Please rest assured that I’m not going anywhere. I’m still here, still knitting but just taking my time getting back into the swing of things. Because of my aforementioned lack of laptop (thanks Windows for totally arsing things up) I’ve been using my Instagram account as a sort of mini-blog with longer and slightly more reflective captions than I normally do. This recent one was a bit of an affectionate poke at the tangles that we knitters can get ourselves into with New Years Resolutions. Heaven knows, I’m no stranger to this and I’ve often made elaborate plans in January for mammoth year-long projects only to find that come February I’m happy to convert that planned throw into a cushion cover and have done with it.

Anyway, please grab a coffee and your knitting and bear with me. I’ll be back soon once I’ve emerged from hibernation - and bought a new laptop.

Review and reflect

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There’s definitely something about this time of year that encourages review and reflection - although in my case this has been rather enforced by a week in bed with flu - I didn’t have the energy to do much else. And even thinking felt like too much effort at times.

I really love this time of year - seasonal craziness notwithstanding - not least because I get to indulge my love of planning with a brand new planner and lots of big ideas for the coming year. But, as much as it is helpful to dive headlong into a new year it’s also nice to look back at what we’ve achieved this year. To stop a minute and take stock of all those small wins. It’s all to easy to focus on the things we didn’t do and the resolutions that went unmet, when in actual fact we probably achieved a heck of a lot more than we think we did.

According to this fun #topnine app apparently in 2018 I mostly knit stripy socks. I love how the snazzy Must Stash Yarn stripy socks account for my top 3 Instagram posts (in terms of likes) in 2018.

Once I’ve shaken off this lingering bug and had a serious amount of coffee I’m planning on a serious bit of 2018 reflection before I get too carried away with 2019 plans. I recently discovered Susuannah Conway through her #decemberreflections2018 project on Instagram and she also has a brilliant (and free) workbook - Unravel Your Year - which I can’t wait to dive into.

But for now, I’m going to take it easy with my knitting - in fact I might even cast on another pair of stripy socks to see me through into the New Year.

A more minimal knitters Christmas

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Please don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love the warmth, the fairy lights, the candles (and yes - a bit of mulled wine). What I increasingly struggle with is the excess and the intensity of it all. Each year seems to bring a mounting sense of urgency, of the endless pursuit of seasonal perfection and a constant comparison between myself and others.

I know that the last point - the comparison - is entirely on me. It’s the way that I can respond to external pressures when I’m feeling less than positive about my own circumstances and that’s something that I am working on.

But, that minor personality foible aside I do feel as though every year brings with an onslaught of more - more Christmas “stuff”. There are some beautiful yarn advent calendars out there and some really lovely KALs and projects but sometimes it all just feels a little bit too much.

I’m really glad that I decided not to buy a yarn advent calendar this year. I was sorely tempted back in the summer when my favourite dyers were busy plotting and planning. But in the end I decided that I would rather not put that pressure on myself to keep up. I would inevitably feel that I had to keep up with the daily knitting (again - that’s entirely my own neuroses talking) and that it would just add to the general feeling of overwhelm that often threatens to overtake me at this time of year.

So instead, rather than wallowing in my own self-analysis I’ve decided to adopt a few principles for a more minimalist knitty Christmas.

  • I am packing away my WIPs (and a sizeable chunk of my stash) - all of them - into the loft when I get the Christmas decorations down. Instead I am just going to have the 3 or 4 that I’m actively working on instead of the huge WIP basket that stares balefully at me every time I pass it.

  • I will pick out a few suitably seasonal skeins of yarn to decide on a relaxing “Twixtmas” project - the lovely period between Christmas and New Year when nothing ever happens.

  • I am doing absolutely no gift knitting, other than things I want to do (read: none)

  • I have asked for no yarny gifts (or indeed any gifts) this Christmas. Both my husband and I have agreed that we have enough “stuff” and we would rather folks donate to Crisis or some other charity on our behalf.

  • Rather than doing an advent knit I am going to use up some of my sock yarn stash and make a series of hats for a homeless shelter, ready for donation in the New Year.

    I am really sorry if this post comes across as “holier than thou” or in any way miserable. I promise you that isn’t my intention at all. But I’ve been writing this blog long enough now to realise that if I’m feeling a certain way there are bound to be others who are feeling just the same.

    I love seeing all the advent and festive posts on my social media feed but for this year I am giving myself permission not to get caught up in the seasonal knitting. But instead to relax, light some scented candles and just do some nice plain hat knitting with no pressure or expectations.

It's Indie Gift-along time

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I’m really pleased to be able to announce that I’m taking part in the Indie Gift-along 2018 sale over on Ravelry. If you are new to the GAL you are in for a treat.

There are hundreds of participating indie designers who team up for a few days at the end of November each year to offer a 25% discount on a selected range of their patterns. But then the fun really starts. There is a knitalong which follows on from this and runs along until the end of December. There is a whole group devoted to chat, competitions, prizes and lots more over on Ravelry and it’s always great fun to be involved in it, both as a knitter and as a participating designer.

You can join the Ravelry group here and when the full list of participating designers goes live you’ll be able to see, browse and buy patterns using the special “giftalong2018” coupon code. The sale goes live on November 23rd, 2018 at 8:00 pm US EST which is 1 am on Friday for us UK folk, so you’ll have plenty of patterns to browse over your coffee on Friday morning.

If you want to see the patterns I’ll be offering in the sale you can see my GAL Bundle here but please note that the “giftalong2018” code won’t work until the full GAL kicks off.

Christmas Knitting...or not

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The above photo neatly encapsulates the sum total of my planned Christmas knitting - and yes - it’s all for me. The West Yorkshire Spinners Fairy Lights yarn will be my festive socks for the season (and beyond) and the sparkly delights of this smashing Lay Family Yarn will be my relaxing knitting project for December (pattern to be decided).

I do plenty of deadline knitting throughout the year for commissions and designs of my own and so for a few years now I have made the conscious decision not to knit for others at Christmas. The exception being stripy socks for my boys - but they have recently had new pairs of socks from me and at the rate their feet are growing they will just have to wait for their next pair.

Knitting to any kind of deadline is enough to systematically remove all the joy I might feel about making something for others, no matter how knitworthy the recipient. So instead I’ve adopted the rule that if I see a pattern or yarn that I think someone might like I knit it, when I feel like it and give it to them. If it happens to coincide with a birthday or important life event then so much the better. But sometimes, those spontaneous gifts are so much more memorable just for that very fact of spontaneity. “I knit this for you, just because…”

I loathe the term “selfish knitting” with a passion and refuse to apply it to my own knitting. The day I hear someone refer to the term “selfish reading” or “selfish running” I might reconsider.

Knitting for me is an essential part of who I am and time spent knitting is time I’m investing in myself. Investing in both my physical and mental health.

Knitting is my daily act of self care and adding labels or time pressures to it is not an option.

Don’t get me wrong. I am totally in awe of those dedicated souls who churn out hats, mitts and scarves for their loved ones at Christmas. And if that act of knitting and giving motivates them and gives them joy, then all power to their needles. But, it’s not for me.

I firmly ascribe to the view that knitting (gifts) isn’t just for Christmas - it’s for life!

On Wool - and other thoughts

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Last week I announced that I was going to run a small knit-along - the #winterwoolkal - aimed at carrying on, in some small way, the fabulous Wovember love from previous years. You can read the original blog post here.

I had planned to do a slightly bigger event but my enforced wi-fi break the week before during our family holiday meant that it was all a bit rushed. Still, I was very pleased with the enthusiastic response. Lots of knitters gleefully rootled through their stash or took the opportunity to buy a skein from a new-to-them producer or dyer.

So far so good. It was a bit of a surprise then to be greeted with, what a friend laughingly termed a ‘wool backlash’. I received a steady stream of emails, PMs and messages suggesting that my focus on 100% wool (the original Wovember principles) was somehow elitist and risked alienating a large number of knitters.

Quite apart from the hysterical thought of a bunch of grown adults being scared off by 50g of Blue Faced Leicester DK, my grandma (who always knit with with wool) would have been tickled pink to be called elitist.

Seriously! How can the choice of wool over other fibres be controversial. It has been such a staple of textile production for 100s of years. I think many of the comments stem from the misconception that wool is somehow expensive and that certainly seemed to be a recurring theme in my emails. This is an excellent article by Louise of KnitBritish which most excellently debunks that myth.

I have always maintained that there is a valid place for acrylic yarn. But that place is not in a KAL aimed at promoting wool and the British wool industry. Including acrylic and other fibres in the KAL would detract from the whole message in the same way that calling a £1 ball of acrylic yarn from Aldi “wool”, detracts from the value of wool as a living, breathing, essential resource for knitters.

In addition, just because a group of people have chosen to apply the term “wool” to anything you can knit with (as opposed to calling it yarn) it doesn’t mean you can use it in a wool KAL. If it didn’t come from a sheep then it isn’t wool.

Wool has so many wondrous qualities, which others have expressed far more eloquently than I can - just browse the Wovember back catalogue of articles for inspiration. Acrylic yarn and other fibres obviously have their place but can never replace wool in my opinion

Nothing beats the the feel, the squish and the smell of real wool. No one - to my knowledge - has ever ripped open a bag of petroleum based yarn product and gleefully inhaled the aroma within. And for that reason, I am and will remain a wool enthusiast to my very core.

Winter Wool KAL

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As we all know, sadly Wovember isn't happening in its original form this year but I'd love to keep the Woolly Love going and do something to celebrate 100% wool this November.

So I thought I'd host a #winterwoolkal running for the month of November.

Just pick something 100% wool from your stash and grab your needles. I'm honouring the original intention of #wovember with this one and being strict on the 100% sheep's wool. As beautiful as alpaca, mohair etc is - this is all about the Wool.

You can either join in over on the Everyday Knitter Facebook group, or jump in on Instagram with your woolly project. Look for the #winterwoolkal #wovember and #britishwool hashtags. That will help you to find other folks are who participating.

We cast on, on 1 Nov and will cast off on 30 Nov.

I'm offering a 25% discount off all of my self published patterns and I know that some other indie designers are doing the same. So grab a yarn - 100% wool - pick a pattern and let’s share the woolly love this November.

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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Socks - do you block yours?

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It’s always a bit of a tricky one and something that people can have strong opinions, on but I love the process of blocking in general and blocking socks in particular. There’s something very pleasing about seeing two weirdly shaped tubes suddenly and magically become sock-shaped on the blockers. And yes, I know that you can just block them on your feet (and I certainly do this with my kids socks) but it is much easier to take a photograph of your finished sock masterpieces when they are on blockers as opposed to when they are on your feet - ask me how I know?

For me, its part of the whole closure that comes at the end of a project. In the same way as you come to the end of a good book and you are reluctant to move on to the next one whilst the characters are still alive and kicking in your mind. Coming to the end of a much loved sock project is much the same. These socks in the photo - knit with yarn from London House Yarns - accompanies me on most of my summer journeys and our happy family memories (and a bit of sand) are knit into each stitch of these socks.

I like to take my time, tidying up the loose ends and emptying out the project bag of assorted bits and pieces. In an ideal world I’ll also put my needles neatly away but I know in practice they often end up randomly in a drawer waiting for me to rifle through them in a desperate search for elusive 2.5mm needles.

Do you have any “end of project” rituals or things that you like to do at the end of a project - or is it just me?