Love your LYS

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This article was previously published in May 2018

In the face of the relentless encroachment of online shopping and the large commercial companies all using their considerable resources to vie for our attention, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of it all. So much is made of the convenience of online shopping, the speed and the price that it's easy to just shrug your shoulders and go with the flow.

But even the snazziest of websites, with all their glossy photos and shiny banners can’t hope to compete with the sensory overload that is a yarn shop. As knitters and crafters we are tactile creatures. Never more at home than when using our senses to see, touch, smell and even listen to yarn. Don’t laugh - don't tell me you don’t love the pleasing crunch that a rustic tweedy yarn makes when you squish it between your fingers?

Such is the effect of a yarn shop that many knitters will simply stop on crossing over the threshold and take a moment just to look around and let their senses acclimatise to the dazzling array of colours and textures on offer.

Now tell me the last time that buying from a website made you feel like that. Did your heart skip a beat as you opened up the web page. Did you pause to appreciate the joy as you clicked the checkout button? I very much doubt it.

It’s important to note that I make an exception in this to online shopping with indie dyers such as Countess Ablaze and Eden Cottage Yarns. Both of these yarns I rarely get to meet in person so online shopping really is the next best thing to plonking myself down in their studios for a cup of tea and a yarn squish.

As well as the sense of community that a yarn shop can foster - the classes, the expertise and help available, the knitting groups and just the sheer joy of being around like minded people and it’s clear that buying yarn online is a very poor relation.

Now I know there are times when it just isn’t possible to buy yarn in an LYS. Not every town has one for a start or it may not stock what you need. Difficulties with transport, with access and choice can all play a part and leave you reaching for the mouse instead.

But when you do, as we all do from time to time please bear in mind that you have a choice over where you spend your hard earned money. Unlike with book buying online (where Amazon has pretty much annihilated the competition) the same isn’t true - yet - of yarn shopping.

You could chose to click on one of those well known online yarn giants whose well placed Google Ads fall so conveniently at the top of the search screens. Or you could choose to scroll a little and shop online from one of the many UK LYSs who have fabulous websites and offer a great alternative online shopping experience.

After all, it may not be a yarn shop local to you but it is still local to someone else. And even if the small independent yarn shop is solely online (as opposed to being a bricks and mortar shop) your money will still go into the local economy where that small business is based.

Just as convenient - you can still shop for yarn at 10 pm in your PJs. Just as easy - modern websites and payment systems means that even the smallest of LYS can invest in a slick purchasing system and in a few clicks that yarn can be on it’s way to you.

The difference is that you will have the peace of mind that knowing you have supported a real person, a real small (often family run) business. A real LYS that doesn't have the advertising budget to compete with the “big box” stores but which still very much has a valuable service to offer.

So, as it is Yarn Shop Day this coming weekend, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t need a special day to remind us. What if every day was an LYS Day - where we make a conscious choice to support our LYSs - even if they are miles away from where we live.

How to avoid 'ears' on toe-up socks

An ‘ear-free’ sock toe

An ‘ear-free’ sock toe

It’s such a tiny thing to worry about in the greater scheme of things, I know. But if you’ve ever been annoyed by that tiny sticky-out ear that you sometimes get when you start a sock toe, then this tip might help you.

I’ve been starting socks this way for so long that I can’t remember where I heard it first. It might have been either via Paula of the Knitting Pipeline podcast, or Susan B Anderson - both fabulous sock knitting gurus.

It’s ludicrously simple to do - you just need to unlearn the first piece of advice you were ever given as a new knitter and don’t start with a slip knot. It is this tiny knit which sticks out in the fabric, no matter how tightly you try to pull it and gives that annoying little lump on the very outside part of the toe.

Don’t use a slip knot when casting on

Don’t use a slip knot when casting on

Instead of tying a slip knot, just drape the yarn over the needle and then arrange the yarn as you would do normally for a Judy’s magic cast on - yarn tail over index finger and the end nearest to the yarn ball around your thumb.

You might find it helpful to give a twist to the yarn before you start casting on - just to anchor it and give you something firmer to knit into on the first row. But once you’ve got that first fiddly stitch into the loose loop out of the way it’s plain sailing.

No, tiny knot and no annoying sock ears!

Do give it a go and let me know what you think.

PIN FOR LATER


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Of socks and mice...

Precious Metals Socks - photo by kind permission of Anna-Maja (agrajag42 on Ravelry)

Precious Metals Socks - photo by kind permission of Anna-Maja (agrajag42 on Ravelry)

Sometimes I think I should really write a book - Tales of a Hapless Knitter perhaps.

Let me set the scene. A freshly washed and blocked pair of socks ready to be photographed for their moment of Ravelry stardom. They are also on a freshly washed clean white duvet cover but let’s ignore that for now. Our hapless knitter pops out for groceries and returns intending to take the necessary photographs and get her sock pattern up on Ravelry pronto.

Imagine the wails of dismay when she sees the carnage that has ensued in her absence. A certain black and white cat who goes by the wholly feminine and unsuitable name of Blossom, has brought her latest rodent find into the bedroom and proceeded to use said socks as a tablecloth for her feast.

I’ll spare you the sight but use your imagination on this one. It’s safe to say that a photo of the scene wouldn’t entice anyone into buying a sock pattern, not unless they have a particular interest in rodent anatomy.

But never fear, my lovely email subscribers are fellow KAL-ers came to the rescue with offers of project photos (as well as sympathy for the damaged socks). Thanks to their kindness the pattern is now up on Ravelry for your purchasing pleasure, without a hint of rodent massacre.

So this pattern is brought to you almost literally by blood, sweat and tears - and also the lovely photo taken by Anna-Maja (agrajag42 on Ravelry)

You can find the Precious Metals Socks pattern here - and you’ll also find a chastened cat banished to the kitchen,

Stripy socks and a celebration

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That feeling of new socks never gets old does it?
No matter how things are going or how bad your day, you can pull on your freshly finished pair, wiggle your toes and feel instantly so much cheerful - and not a little bit smug.

I knit these as a long sock snake with a toe at each end, and then snipped to add cuffs/heels. After lots of questions on the way I did these I’ll be doing a blog post on it later in the week but for now you can hop over to my Instagram Stories highlights where I’ve saved a short photo tutorial for you.

It also seems appropriate to wear new socks for the launch of my new Comfort Blanket KAL today. You can find all the details here but basically this is an 8 week KAL combining pattern ideas/recipes for a Mitered Square blanket with self care tips and suggestions along the way.

If that sounds right up your street or you are in need of #ablankettohideunder please do think about joining us, and if you have any questions fire away. I’d love to have you on board.

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.

A blanket to hide under

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Yesterday I did something that I don’t normally do, and posted an off the cuff and deeply personal caption on my Instagram feed. I do normally try to ‘keep it real’ and be authentic there as much as possible but like most people (I suspect) I do heavily filter what I chose to share (and to not share) with the world.

Yesterday though I admitted that I’ve been really struggling with anxiety lately. Partly due to personal circumstances, partly due to the uncertainty and political turmoil of the whole Brexit saga - it’s hard to stay positive in a world where you seem to be bombarded with horrible divisive rhetoric everywhere you turn.

My salvation, as ever is in my knitting and that probably explains why my favourite thing to knit right now are mahoosive garter stitch mitered squares. No thought required, just pretty yarn and soothing stitches.

So many people got in touch yesterday to share their anxieties and their coping strategies that it turned what started off as a pretty dark day into something much more positive, more upbeat, more manageable.

Jokingly we discussed the idea of knitting your own survival blanket - anyone else remember making a blanket fort as a child? And so, obviously my crafting little brain went off at a tangent.

As the Precious Metals Socks KAL is drawing to a close my thoughts turned to the possibility of a very gentle, no-pressure, blanket KAL - think soothing garter stitch, think squares of different sizes, think about an adaptable, flexible pattern (or recipe maybe?) where you can just relax and enjoy creating for the sake of it. Whether you decide to make a cushion cover, lap blanket or full-on “hide from the world” blanket.

I’d like to do this one a little differently though and my ideas are still sketchy so bear with me. First up, there would be a charge for this KAL as I would like to run it more as a community based event, with a closed Facebook group and maybe with a yarn swap component. The pattern will be purchased via Ravelry and purchase will give you access to the weekly prompts/pattern downloads and the Facebook group. The actual KAL itself will run for about 8 weeks with a weekly email from me. I’ll alternate the emails so that one week you’ll receive a weekly pattern/recipe for a mitered square (along with tips and tricks for a neat finish) and the following week you’ll receive some ideas for self-care and mindfulness. I’d also like to use the KAL to raise money for charity, so from each purchase I’ll be donating a fixed amount to Mind - the mental health charity.

So what do you think? If it sounds like something you might be interested in please click the link here to express an interest and as soon as I have more information you’ll be the first to know.

When is a hobby not a hobby?

Beginnings of a mitered square blanket - yes, another one :)

Beginnings of a mitered square blanket - yes, another one :)

I listened to The Little Chapters podcast yesterday - a fabulous newish podcast with Kayte of  @simpleandseason and @jessicarosewilliams and they were discussing hobbies - and more specifically the pressure that people feel to monetise their hobbies, in an age where everyone seems to have or aspire to have a side hustle. And it really got me thinking, from a knitting (and general craft) perspective.

So many times I’ve heard people say to me (or to other crafters), “Oh, you should totally sell those” referring to whatever handmade item you happen to be working on at the time. Now obviously, it’s a lovely compliment to pay someone, to say that their loving handmade item is “good enough” to attract a price tag. The problem is that such people - often non-crafters - are woefully lacking in information regarding the time and the cost of materials needed to make anything more than a simple chunky knit beanie. And even then, good wool doesn’t come cheap. There are very few people who can make a living wage from selling handknit items, and nor should people feel that they have to.

There’s nothing wrong with knitting just for the joy and pleasure it brings you. There should be no pressure to somehow “be productive” or to be judged for what others feel is a meaningful use of your time.

It doesn’t just happen with handknitted items. How many times on a social media platform have you seen someone excitedly share a new project - something that they have made up, or been inspired to create. All too often such posts are greeted with a barrage of "pattern please" or "you should write that up". Blithely ignoring the many hours of work it would take to do that. Not least the expectation that, that person should put in hours of work just to help someone else make something. Yes, of course it is a compliment of sorts but it also comes from a place of entitlement - that someone else should put in the effort (and in the case of pattern writing that’s a heck of a lot of effort) in order to benefit themselves.

That lead me to thinking about the way some people approach social media in general - some from a mindset of abundance and some from a mindset of scarcity - but that’s a post for another day.

As you can see, one small podcast episode can set off a whole chain of thoughts and that’s what I really love about The Little Chapters. Kayte and Jess chat freely about a whole range of topics - to do with being self-employed, running a business, mindfulness, slow-living. They are brilliantly down to earth and never fail to say something during the podcast that makes me say “ooooh….” and reach for my notebook. Do give them a listen - I’d love to hear what you think.

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.

Why I'm doing a No Spend Lent

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Every year I try to give up something for Lent -with varying degress of success, but this year I’m joining Barbora (@herinternest on Instagram) in #NoSpendLent2019.

Jessica Rose Williams wrote about this a while ago on her blog and it really made sense to me. A bit of a financial reset is a good thing to do from time to time I think. I’m fortunate in that both my husband and myself work and we have a reasonable household income. It’s easy to spend money on non-essentials like takeaway coffee and food without really thinking about it.

Not only does this lead to the inevitable confusion at the end of the month when I wonder why on earth I’m skint again, it also contributes to my guilt around trying to be more aware of environmental choices. I’ve been doing my best to ditch the single-use plastics and takeaway coffee cups and I do have reusable cups, but I’ve yet to fully embed this in my lifestyle and often myself lacking one when I need it.

The rules of #NoSpendLent2019 are simple: No spending on anything that isn’t essential, although of course it’s entirely up to you what you define as essential. Life doesn’t stop and kids will still need dinner money and school supplies (I think they eat bloody Prit Sticks and pens - the rate at which we seem to go through them) but anything that doesn’t fall into your essential category is off limits.

For me, my essentials are:

  • An outfit for an upcoming work event in April

  • Kids school stuff, and classes

  • Sports payments & classes

  • Groceries (although making an effort to shop from my freezer/pantry too)

  • Basic toiletries (again, making sure to use up what we have first)

Non essentials:

  • I’ve pretty much given up buying makeup and posh toiletries anyway as I try to reduce plastic use.

  • Takeaway coffee and takeaway meals

  • Books and magazines

  • Yarn and needles - I think I have enough to last me a month or so

  • Patterns - again - I think I have enough for now

The idea isn’t to live in a state of monastic self-deprivation. And if I come across a book that I really, really want to read I probably will buy it. It’s more a case of trying to be more aware of those small purchases every day. Those little £3-5 items which you buy almost without thinking about it. And really considering “Do I need this or do I just want it”.

Fancy joining me? If you do decide to have a go - however you want to define it please do let me know. Either use the comments below or tag me on Instagram with the #NoSpendLent2019 tag and we can cheer each other on.

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

The Rare Stitch Project

Third Vault Yarns self stripe with a duplicate ‘rare stitch’ added

Third Vault Yarns self stripe with a duplicate ‘rare stitch’ added

Have you heard of The Rare Stitch project? No, neither had I until I experienced one of those remarkable serendipitous events that our online knitty world seems to excel in.

I had just finished reading an article on the Ravelry home page under their regular Humans of Ravelry slot - you can read it here (you may need to scroll down a little to find it). The article talks about Raveller tentenkits - aka Margot - whose son was diagnosed with a very rare condition. She uses her knitting to raise awareness of rare diseases by incorporating a deliberately wrong (rare) stitch into each project as a visual representation of one ‘rare or unusual’ stitch in a sea of ‘normal’ stitches. Margot has a lovely Instagram account as @1010_studio and she is well worth a follow.

With cup of coffee in hand I literally popped over to Instagram to connect with Margot and the first post I see is a post from the lovely Deb - @tinckhickman sharing her ‘rare stitch’ project. She talked very movingly about a recent diagnosis within the family of a rare and unusual disorder and also linked back to Margot’s work.

How weird is that? I love how interconnected our knitting world is and I love that this project is doing such great work to highlight awareness of such rare and often overlooked diseases.

Today - 28th February - is Rare Disease Day so it seemed like the perfect time to share this little anecdote with you and to also help to raise awareness this group of disorders. For many patients and their families the diagnosis of rare disease (literally something that affects 1 in a million or fewer) can seem incredibly isolating. Support groups and help can be far away, or non existent and it can be baffling to navigate the healthcare system with healthcare professionals who also know very little about your condition.

Rare Disease Day is organised and supported by EuroDis - Rare Diseases Europe - who bring together research and support for those affected under one umbrella organisation and try to amplify the work ongoing.

So if you do one thing today, why not add a ‘rare stitch’ to your WIP and share it online with the hashtag #therarestitch and show a little support for this worthwhile project

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.

Zero waste socks

Yarn is a self stripe from Third Vault Yarns - Ides of March

Yarn is a self stripe from Third Vault Yarns - Ides of March

As knitters we tend to be a fairly thrifty bunch anyway, and I know that I am certainly loath to part with any scraps after I’ve finished a project.

But, as I was knitting on these socks it dawned on me that these will be my first pair of official “Zero Waste” socks.

The 100g skein gave a lovely pair of toe-up socks for me (64sts on 2.25mm needles) with a fish lips kiss heel and left 40g remaining. My eldest son liked them so much that he also wanted a pair - and although he now has feet that are as long as mine they are also a lot narrower (think canoe’s and you’re on the right track).

So I divided the remaining yarn into 2 x 20g balls and paired it with a toning brown (of long forgotten provenance) from my stash for toes, heels and cuffs. His socks are 56sts on 2.25mm needles and so I got about 5 inches up the leg before the self-stripe ran out.

I just did a Clasped weft join to the brown yarn and carried on to add another inch and then the cuff. So by the time I have finished his second sock there’s won’t be a single scrap of the self-stripe left, which I have to say is all very pleasing,

As I am determinedly ploughing on with my mahoosive (three strands held together) Garter Ripple Squish, the idea of not adding anything further to my dwindling yarn scrap supply is really quite attractive.

I’m not sure if this will be a “thing” for future socks too but it’s certainly been a fun project.

Staying small

Precious Metals Socks KAL starting soon

Precious Metals Socks KAL starting soon

I saw a really interesting statistic yesterday which really gave me cause to think, and also crystallised a few thoughts which I’ve been mulling over for a while. The ever-fabulous Casey from Ravelry ran and published a report into the income made by designers through Ravelry pattern sales. January was the best month for pattern sales and his figures showed that only 300 people made more than $1000 in sales. It goes without saying that sales for the summer months are a whole lot lower.

With figures like that it’s pretty obvious that pattern sales alone are not a viable way to make a living - and that’s the reason that most designers either have more diverse income streams or who work other jobs in addition to their designing.

For the purposes of comparison I checked my figures and in January I made just short of £660 in pattern sales (approx $860) - not bad - and probably about in line with my monthly average.

It goes without saying though, that this is not my sole source of income. I work a full time job and I’m married with a husband who also has a full time job. And of course there are the overheads to be deducted for tech editing, website hosting, software and the dreaded tax return.

My designing and pattern sales are a useful source of secondary income but more importantly for me, it’s fun and that’s why I do it. If I were to give up work to focus on this full time I’m not sure I would inherently be any more productive, or that realistically I would be able to convert that free time into actual income. There are only so many patterns people are willing to buy and hours in the day in which to knit them.

So much business advice is gearing towards growing your business, to “slaying it” and to building your income. Sometimes it feels as though it’s wrong to say “I’m fine where I am actually, thanks”. I’m never going to be a crusading business woman, and I’m fine with that.

I’m just happy, doing what I do. And I’m eternally grateful that I’m able to do it.

My favourite apps for knitting pattern storage

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As much as I would love to say this is my library/craft room, in reality, due to lack of space (and an excess of kids and Lego) I’ve had to embrace digital storage of patterns and knitting paraphenalia. I access and store patterns almost exclusively in digital rather than paper format these days. The exception to this is the beautiful (print only) Laine Magazine and also a few treasured stitch dictionaries - the complete Barbara Walker series as well as my absolute favourite Japanese stitch bible.

In my quest for the perfect digital solution I’ve tried out a few different apps (I’m an Android user) and I thought it might be helpful to share them here:

KnitCompanion: I know this is really popular and I have bought (and used) the paid for version. There is also a basic, free version if you wanted to try it out. I really love the way it seamlessly integrates into Ravelry and if I were a really prolific knitter of other people’s patterns I think this would probably be my app of choice. As it is, I’m usually juggling knitting my own designs with knitting those of others, so I tend not to use this very much at the minute. It’s really great for saving your progress though and avoids that “where the heck am I?” feeling when you pick up a long-term WIP that you have mysteriously abandoned half way through the lace chart from hell.

Goodreader: This available for i-Phone/Apple users. I’ve no experience of this but I know that many people do use it and speak very highly of it.

Evernote: I’ve had an Evernote account for years now and I use it for all sorts of things, from household bills and storage of documents, to knitting patterns and clips for design inspiration. The platform is free to use, or you can pay a small amount (as I do) to access a greater range of premium features. I keep the vast majority of my bought knitting patterns in here, stored in folders along with useful articles, research articles and those all important size charts that I always need to reference. Whenever I buy a pattern - usually from Ravelry - I download it straight away to whatever device I’m on and then save a copy in Evernote. It synchs across all of my devices and it means that I can always access that crucial bit of pattern information no matter where I am. I love it so much that I am an Evernote affiliate. You can sign up by clicking this link for a free trial of their Premium service. This is an affiliate link which gives me points towards my own Premium membership.

Google Drive. I’m a real fan of Google docs and spreadsheets, and most of my design work and content creation happens here. I love being able to create specific folders for everything and the fact that it integrates so seamlessly into Trello (see below) is a real bonus.

Trello. This is where I do my day to day (and month to month) business planning. I love the calender function here and so this is where I manage my everyday tasks, set my editorial calendar and keep track of various projects.

Where do you stand on the issue of pattern storage? I asked this question in my Instagram Stories earlier today and so far it’s about 35% Team Paper and 65% Team Digital.

If you know of any apps or storage solutions that I haven’t mentioned, do please let me know. Like the search for the elusive perfect notebook, the search for perfect storage is always ongoing.





A new sock KAL

Precious Metals Socks KAL

Precious Metals Socks KAL

Who doesn’t love a good knit-along?

It’s been ages since I did a good old-fashioned sock KAL and so I thought with the coming spring, lighter days and a general burst of creative enthusiasm what better way to celebrate than with a shiny, new cast on.

This KAL is offered, free to those who subscribe to my email newsletter, with four weekly installments starting on 4th March.

Just in case you are heading to Unravel this weekend I’ve put together a pre-KAL information sheet - with a few suggestions on yarn choices etc. You can find this in your email inbox if you are already an email subscriber, or if not - just click this link to subscribe and you can download it from your Welcome email.

I’ve also created a pattern page on Ravelry for those among you who like to be super organised.

I’ll be back in a few days with some more information but for now, do feel free to have a rootle in your stash and see what you can come up with. I’m using the beautiful BFL Supersock from TravelKnitter but any solid or semi solid sock yarn would work well.

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.