crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making… Christmas socks, yes I am.

The next project that is my main focus are these Bob Socks – the same Louise Tilbrook pattern that I’m using for those grey toned socks – I just really like the way they fit and the wrap and turn heel is so much easier to do than a heel flap and gusset. Picking up stitches is not my favourite thing and with this type of heel you don’t do that at all so that’s a massive win for me, I also prefer a rounded toe to a wedge to fit my Viking toe.

Knitting in the garden at the weekend with the Wee Sew and Sew

I’ve just finished this book too, its a lovely read, OK its a bit sad, after all the woman’s fiancé gets killed in a car crash pretty early on but it doesn’t leave you feeling all full of doom and gloom either, there’s a lot of humour in it with her family and work and all that.

When I first cast these on in December 2020 (cast on as a second pair for the Strictly sockalong) I used the garter panel option from the pattern but I didn’t really like it, but I carried on with it right until I’d nearly finished the first sock and here’s how they looked. Not bad but not my cup of tea somehow. I did however have my Christmas nails painted to match which was a great idea right up until the point the third lockdown started leaving me still having Christmas nails on Valentines day.

The thing is, what is the point of putting the time and effort into making handmade socks if you’re not going to love them? So I ripped them out and started again as a pair of vanilla socks. It’s the stripes, they don’t need any help from texture do they?

The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners’ Candy Cane, which is a Christmas yarn but its not so Christmassy that you can’t wear these at any time of the year, I think the green is quite spring-like. The needles are Knit Pro Smart Stix dps which I like purely because the stripes are pretty, I don’t use them to measure my knitting but I suppose I could if I couldn’t find any of my tape measures, I do have a bit of a weakness for tape measures so I tend to have quite a lot of them.

I bought mine from a LYS – Seeded in Southsea, well worth a visit if you’re down my way.

If you use Ravelry, I have a project page for these socks which you can find here. I think it is entirely possible I will have finished these by the end of May, I’m entering then into the Needles at the Ready Spring make along, they’re encouraging us all to finish off some WIPs, there are prizes but its the make-along element that I like, its really spurring me on to finish some long standing projects.

So here we are, just about to turn the heel, I reckon the next time you see these I’ll be on on the second sock.

Cat in a teacup!
crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making… Bob socks

What do you say, 75% complete?

I’ve put some time into my Bob Socks – a pattern by Louise Tilbrook – and I’m really pleased with them. Mind you I cast these on in September 2018 so they were due a bit of attention. I am making these using Opal yarn from the Style range and the colour is Senstationell. I’m knitting them using my beloved Lyn Roberts Design silver dpns, and yes that is silver as in the precious metal, not just the colour.

I do need some fairly normal colour socks, most of my sock yarn is quite bright colours and sometimes you just need something a bit more toned down don’t you? Then again if I cast these on in 2018 and haven’t finished them yet my need can’t be that great can it?

The thing with me is I do like to cast on every single thing that takes my fancy. I’m not happy if I have an empty project bag knocking around and I do like buying project bags. Which is great and everything, but it means I have so many things on the needles that not much actually gets finished. Consequently I’ve been a bit stern with myself and I’m going to make an effort to actually finish some stuff this year. I can’t take all the credit for this self-control, it’s mainly because the marvellous Needles at the Ready YouTube knitting channel are running a MAL to finish your languishing WIPs.

So far it’s going really well, I have cast off and blocked two quite big projects already this year and I’m on track to finish last year’s Christmas socks in time for the height of summer. I’ve also just finished (and listed in my Etsy shop) an embroidered artwork I’ve been working on for a few weeks.

Obviously this is not going to stop me from also casting on all the things, I’ve signed up for the Curious Handmade Shawl Society which starts this month (yarn should be delivered in the next couple of days for the first one) and I’m also going to join in on The Fibre Hustle‘s (another excellent knitting and sewing YouTube channel) Vertices Unit knit-a-long which starts on 1st June. See you there?

crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making… Strictly Socks

Its Strictly season! Thank god for that. I needed a bit of sparkle and fun. You know what else that means don’t you? Its Strictly Sock time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s the sock MAL run by Ali of the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast on YouTube. She runs this very easy going knit along every year where you quite simply knit a pair of socks while you watch Strictly. You’ll have to check the podcast (there’s a Ravelry group too) for all the details but there are prizes and cheating is encouraged so you don’t have to worry about sticking to a load of rules.

Not a ton of progress, admittedly.

I wanted to make a glitzy pair of socks because, obviously, its Strictly. Lucky lucky lucky me West Yorkshire Spinners have brought out their new Christmas yarn – Silent Night and it is sparkly! Its a sort-of stripe in a few shades of night or evening time blues with silver stellina to represent stars. I know. Its perfect.

I love West Yorkshire Spinners, and these Zandra Rhodes earrings which are sadly too heavy to wear except on Zoom meetings.

A couple of weeks ago I popped in to the brilliant Seeded independent yarn shop in Southsea (near Portsmouth) and picked up a ball (and a ball of WYS Candy Cane too for the Stranded Festive Sock Along) and got the free Comet Sock pattern by Winwick Mum too.

I did cast on for the Comet socks but I feel a bit funny about patterned yarn and lace designs together. It just feels like there is too much going on for me but I cast them on anyway knowing it was pretty sure that I wouldn’t like it, but I’m willing to be won over so I gave it a go.

If you can get to Southsea please go to Seeded, its a treat.

Nope. Frogged that. Two problems here, one is that I can’t do variegated and pattern all mixed up, it makes me feel oogly. Look at the picture from the pattern, you really can’t make out the lace pattern can you? The second is, I can’t watch Strictly and do a lace pattern at the same time. Not my brain, not my fingers.

I pulled them back to the rib and now I’m knitting them as just vanilla socks and I love them. The yarn is so pretty and I can just knit, knit, knit and not care if I’m in the middle of a round if I want to stop and just concentrate on Maisie’s amazing samba. Which I did, a bit open mouthed.

By now I’m sure you’re gagging to find out where I bought the best dpn holder ever for this project aren’t you? Its metallic gold and I got it from Pickle-Lily on Etsy. She has a ton of really nice dpn covers and project bags, so well worth a look there. It all came really nicely packaged too so that was a treat. The envelope had a rainbow on, the covers (I bought two) were wrapped in tissue paper and tied with candy striped twine and there was a little thank you note too. Just bloody lovely.

Also, I’ve had my nails done, so had to get those in.

I am going to make the Comet Socks at some point, the pattern looks really pretty but I’ll make them out of a solid colour yarn. I’d like to see the lace pattern clearly so I can appreciate the desigN. I have some Triskelion yarn in a lovely soft pink that I think would work well but I’m in two minds whether I want to use the pink for that or the Curious Handmade cream tea socks. I think what I need is some midnight blue solid sparkly yarn. Where am I going to find that? No really, tell me if you know where I can find that.

Knitting

Today I’m Making… Shell Cottage Socks

We’re settling in nicely to our new home, we love this area, the people are so friendly and smiley – I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy anywhere I’ve lived.

Of course the house needs a few bits and bobs doing but nothing urgent and we’ve almost unpacked everything, I think there are about 18 boxes left, and most of that is stuff that really belongs in the loft or it’s my craft supplies that I need to buy new storage for. So now that we’re pretty much sorted I have been able to do some lovely relaxing Sunday knitting and what is better than a nice pair of socks?

Teensy bit too long for my blockers

These are my Shell Cottage Socks, they’re a design by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade and were the first socks in last year’s Sock Society. I love this pattern its so pretty and effective, I actually have two pairs of these on the needles but these grey ones are my favourite. I think they look just like those lovely cobblestone cottages you see driving through Hampshire.

I cast these on when the pattern was first released but because I like to cast on all the things and knit them all at once progress is painfully slow on with every single thing I make. I only recently finished the first sock – a good 18 months later.

I’m quite pleased with my gusset

This is absolutely no reflection on the pattern, I love Curious Handmade patterns, they’re so well written I’d happy knit nothing else but when I enjoy something I want it to last so here we are. I mean really, what is the rush? I’ll still have feet next week…

I’m knitting them on my lovely Knitpro wooden cubic out of Debbie Bliss Rialto Sock, which is very pretty but a bit too keen on unplying for my peace of mind.

Debbie Bliss Rialto Sock
Yarn bowl from Little Wren Potteries on Etsy
This is where they sleep, this bag is from Flying Tiger on one of their £2 sale days.
Lou Lou is not that interested in knitting.

Knitting

Today I’m Making – Bob Socks

You’re impressed with my progress, I can tell.

I had to check my projects page on Ravelry to remind myself how long ago I cast on these socks. 29 September 2018. 2018! That’s pretty bad isn’t it, and to have only got this far. I’m a little bit ashamed of myself. So I suppose these socks should be what I concentrate on making this week. I mean, they should be but knowing me I’ll be distracted by all the other things I have on the needles but my intentions at this part of this day are good.

If you’re not familiar with the pattern, these are the Bob socks by Louise Tilbrook designs, Bob is really BOB – it stands for Build on the Basics and they’re aimed at beginner knitters really. I just like a nice simple sock. They’re mainly vanilla but they have two options of simple side detail that I think looks quite vintage menswear. The pattern is very clear and is laid out simply so that you aren’t constantly flicking back and forth. I’d say that if you’ve never knitted a pair of socks in your life this would be safe place to start if you don’t want to do a plain vanilla sock.

Twisted rib panel

I have a ton of sock yarn but most of it is highly coloured, variegated and/or speckled which is lovely but sometimes I don’t want my socks in the foreground of my outfit and I really fancied a pair of dark grey socks to wear with black trousers and DMs. I’m imagining myself a vision of monochrome cool in a slightly beatnik style. Its nice to have an imagination to prop yourself up with.

The yarn I’m using is Opal Style, I’m not sure that you can still get this yarn seeing as I bought mine some time prior to September 2018 but good luck hunting. I bought mine from InterKnitCafe who vends at a local monthly artisan market. Hopefully that sort of thing will be back up and running again soon but in the meantime she has a good selection of Opal and other sock yarns in her Etsy shop. The owner is a really nice, chatty and approachable person to so if you are close to either Fleet in Hampshire or Farnham in Surrey those are the two places where I know you can find her in person for a nice squish. Of the yarn. Obviously.

Lyn Roberts Designs solid silver dpns

But here comes the really special bit. I’m knitting them on my solid silver dpns. Yes you read that right. They’re the ultimate in knitting luxury. I bought them from Lyn Roberts Designs, I’m a big fan of her work and although obviously hand made silver dpns cost a fair bit more than commercial needles they’re nowhere near as expensive as you might imagine. I love mine, they feel lovely in your hand and they’re really pretty. They are weightier than you might be used to but I like that. I don’t really like lightweight wooden needles, they feel too flimsy in my hands so if you’re are committed Symphonies knitter these might not work out for you but I really recommend looking up Lyn at a yarn fairs in the future, I think once you have her knitting tools in your hand you’ll be so enchanted you’ll want to own them yourself.

I keep them protected by this very ugly but massively practical dpn holder that I bought at the Westcliffe Knitting Hotel in Blackpool. There’s no maker’s label on it but they do stock these regularly and I have bought a few in much prettier fabrics, I got this one just because I needed one at the time and I think it was the last one in stock. If you ask maybe Paula (the owner) will be able to put you in touch with the maker.

Look! There’s a cat in a sheep onesie.

These socks live in this adorable pyramid sock bag that I bought from I Knit London (sadly a victim of souless commercial regeneration in Lower Marsh, London). I really like pyramid bags for socks, you can actually get quite a bit in there and the print is perfect. They’re cats in onesies. Its just the cutest thing every and those are totally my colours. I don’t think Gerard made these himself, I wish I knew who did. I nearly said purrfect but that would be cringy cheap. I’m so glad I resisted the temptation.

Is the one in the stripes having a poo?

I doubt whether making pyramid bags can be that difficult, can it? I might have a look on YouTube and waste another 18 months not knitting my socks.

Hallmarked and everything.
crafting · crochet · embroidery · Etsy · Knitting

Sunday Crafts update

Here is my plan for today. Every Sunday I choose a maximum of six projects to work on for the day and work on them in rotation, either in one-hour blocks or for the length of whatever podcast I’m watching on YouTube, because Sunday is also the day when I binge watch podcasts and Sewing Quarter. I start at the bottom left corner and go round in a clockwise direction. If I finish something I can replace it with another project. I’ll go into each project in more detail below but so far today we have:

The PPS shawl – by Louise Tilbrook
Three snood orders to pack up ready to post
My current book – Lady Audley’s Secret
A black snood
A marker to remind me to do my embroidery coursework
Shell Cottage socks – by Curious Handmade

I actually cast on this shawl when I was on holiday in Crete in June, then I came home and neglected it a bit. I am the sort of person that has a million projects on the go all at once which means slow progress on pretty much everything but there’s no deadline on enjoying yourself is there? Who cares if it takes forever.

I’m using my gorgeous little bird yarn bowl from Little Wren designs – who sells on Etsy and she has these in several colours. The colour has not come out brilliantly well in this picture – this is a really cute sandy yellow in real life.

Here is my progress so far, as you can see I’ve finished the first set of stripes and things are looking pretty good so far. I’ve started the shaping for the main single colour part of the shawl and that’s coming along nicely though I’ve realised I have made my usual mistake of doing slightly too tight yarn overs for the increases but thankfully it hasn’t ruined the shape and a bit of blocking will sort it out if need be.

This is a great pattern and really enjoyable to knit.

Here’s a close up of the yarn – the stripes are a mini set from Manos del Uruguay, they’re the silk blend Fino and I bought mine from Interknit Café at a local monthly artisan market but she also sells online and had several other colours when I bought mine but she was expecting them to sell out fairly quickly

The main colour was a silk blend from Once Upon a Time Skeins who sadly has stopped dying to sell but I believe she still has a few skeins on Etsy of other colours and fibres. Her colours are beautiful, this one is a gorgeous eau de nil lightly flecked with blue, yellow and pink.

I’m using my Knitpro Zings, I mainly like them because of the colours – I find the join between the needle and the cable can be a bit harsh but this metallic lime green goes so well with my colour 2 stripe that I don’t care.

I love this stitch marker, I bought a set of these from Wild & Woolly in London, which is currently my favourite bricks and mortar shop. The owner is such a nice woman, though I’ve only managed to visit a couple of times myself to be honest. These stitch markers were part of a multi coloured set that are all stamped with different stitch abbreviations so that you know what it is you’re supposed to be doing when you get to them. Brilliant.

Not much to say here except that the postage and packing element of an order takes a fair bit of time in itself, but once these are all labelled up and in my bag to take to the post office tomorrow I’ll replace these with another craft project.

These poly bags are plastic so not ideal but they are recycled. I did use brown paper for a while but I was really worried that one day a customer would cut right through the snood when they cut open the package. I want to find an economic degradable version of these poly bags but if I can’t I’ll move back to brown paper and swallow my fear.

Next up is my current read. I’d never heard of this author before buying this book. This is utterly gripping, it’s a Victorian ‘sensation’ novel. It might even be THE Victorian sensation novel, it was hugely popular in it’s day and would make a brilliant tv serial drama. Lady Audley is not all she at first seems to be, there’s not much mystery here in that you pretty much know what she’s up to from quite early on but its the way her secrets are gradually unravelled that makes it so completely gripping. I’d say this is one of the best books I’ve read this year out of the 25 I’ve read so far.

I read 50 pages a day so when I’ve hit that target I can replace the book with a craft project.

A black snood. Always there is a black snood on my hook. This particular hook is my much beloved Lyn Roberts silver hook, bought at Yarnporium 2018. It never leaves the house but it is the only hook I will use to make snoods when I am at home. I LOVE it. I do like making black snoods but I also like a bit of variety in my life so I probably don’t make anywhere near as many of them as I should. Plus I’ve scaled down dramatically the number of snoods I’m making this year so that I can get on with my embroidery coursework.

Speaking of which – this I my placemarker to remind me to actually get on and do some of my embroidery coursework.

I feel like I am quite behind with it but I only have one and a bit modules to complete. I think I’ll be able to finish this current module by the early part of October but I’m still worried that I won’t have time to complete the one after that in time for the end of the course, which I think is November. I need to check that really but I’m scared of the answer.

I’m plotting out a counted stitch chart today which I’ve made harder by having the wrong sort of graph paper.

Last but far from least are my Shell Cottage socks. These were the first pair of socks in this year’s Curious Handmade Sock Society. I haven’t finished a pair yet and I think we’re on the fourth pattern release now. That’s alright.

This project bag is from Flying Tiger when they did their £2 sale earlier this year. Nice isn’t it?

Its a good roomy bag, plenty of room for your socks, pattern, yarn and notions. There are a couple of pockets inside and some of those ring things to feed yarn through which I never use.

See how I’ve artfully draped my yarn across the repeat where I knitted an extra row. Actually I think I did that on another repeat a bit closer to the cuff. See also how little I care.

So here we are, warts and all.

I think I like the Curious Handmade patterns best of all because she literally writes out everything row by row, and you get a percentage in the right margin to let you know how far along you are. Its simply brilliant.

I’m knitting these on my Addi Crasy Trios which are my favourite needles for socks and the yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature sock. Good old WYS, you can’t go wrong really can you and they have the best solids.

So that’s it for today. I’m happy to report it’s absolutely piddling down outside so I’m staying in and enjoying myself with a ton of coffee and toast. I hope you’re loving your day too. x

Books · Knitting

Today I’m Making… Hermione’s Everyday Socks

I’m always very behind on knitting trends but I can remember when everyone was going mad for these socks and I have been meaning to knit a pair. Do you like my bright purple fishnets? I wear them to work sometimes when I feel like alarming some Greys.

Now I’m not usually a pink loving woman but when West Yorkshire Spinners brought out their floral range of sock yarn I had to have the pink. I’d really like the peach shade too but I haven’t seen that in stock anywhere for ages.

I feel like this yarn and pattern are just made for each other, I love how the texture works with the dye pattern to make a sort of spiral stripe. I have heard of people not enjoying that little phenomenon but I think it’s a delight.

I might do a contrast heel and toe next time I make these. Hark at me! Next pair? I haven’t even finished one sock yet.

I’m finding this yarn is going a bit thick and thin and there have been some fluffy patches but nothing too alarming so far. I’m really hoping that I have a nice amount leftover to use as a contrast heel and toe on other socks, I should do because I like to wear quite short socks so mine are much shorter in the leg than the pattern says.

I’m also still reading Elmore Leonard’s Freaky Deaky which is very funny considering the story so I’m trying to eke it out a bit to make it last. It’s not at all what I thought it would be, I was worried it would be a hard nosed gangster book but it couldn’t be further from that.

Having said that I might end up finishing it tomorrow because I have no intention of leaving the house tomorrow, I went out twice today and it was cold and horrible. I’m not making that mistake again.

crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making… socks for my bloke

This last week I’ve been on a knitting retreat at the ever excellent Westcliffe Knitting Hotel in Blackpool (really you must go if you can, its fantastic). The one thing I was determined to finish was the socks I’ve been knitting for my bloke for the last couple of months or so.

I didn’t. But I’ve finished them this morning (I came home yesterday evening) and I’m really pleased with them. So is he, and so is his mum!

I found a great sock pattern from 1986 in a charity shop and used that because it has a nice spiral decrease for the toe (like you’d see when knitting a beret) rather than a grafted toe. I dislike that chisel tip look you usually get, anyway, with a few tweaks this is going to be my standard sock pattern, there are also only 5 stitches to pick up after turning the heel and no silly heel flap.   I am going to rewrite the heel to make it sturdier but to be honest I don’t really need to.

So here they are, charmingly modelled by himself with barely any direction from me, he’s worn them round his mum’s just now and she’d like a pair too, scaling the pattern down for her feet won’t be any trouble at all, once she’s measured her foot and chosen her colour I’ll get cracking on them.

I do want to say something about the yarn, and I’m sorry to say its not going to be overly positive. I used the Debbie Bliss Rialto so called luxury yarn.  It looks delightful as you knit (unfortunately I bought three balls so I’ve got to use it up) but it unplys as you knit shockingly and I can’t work a way out to stop it (any suggestions anyone?). It lurches in width from thick to thin to very thick and very thin alarmingly but strangely it hasn’t affected the finished socks that I can see so not a huge problem but not something you’d expect when you’ve paid £10.50 a ball. I am quite worried about wear with it unplying so badly (you can’t do a whole round without it happening), where it has happened the yarn must surely be a fair bit weaker.  Now, I know I could take photos and send it back and blah blah but I’m not going to, I’d rather just not buy it again.

image

Still for all that I’ve make a very fine pair of sock and Mr GinPoodle is very happy with them indeed so its all worked out well in the end, eh?

 

 

crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making – Progress on the toe-up socks

I say progress, is it really progress if you realise they not going to fit?

I’ve finished one sock and its enormous.  Same as the last couple of pairs I’ve made these are closer to a size 10 than a 6.  What I should stop doing is following patterns that I know are not going to turn out right and go with my own measurements, so that’s what I’ve done.

I have cast on this little git’s brother but the next pair are going to be my own pattern and lets see if that fixes my baggy heel issues.  Do you see the odd pointy toe? Its happening again on the next one, sort of like it though. Happy to report I’m not flat-footed, evidence top left, I always thought I was growing up because I didn’t leave pretty damp footprints in the bathroom but looking back perhaps I should have been focussing on more important things like turning up at school rather than bunking off to see bands or go clubbing.

I’ve made slight progress with the book too (mini review here) his wife has left him for his best mate and they’ve skipped off to Mexico together.  I’m with her so far. The book in the picture I bought from I Knit London and its a Ronseal read, does exactly what it says on the cover i.e. gives you a load of cast on and off methods and tells you which type of project they’re suitable for. I’ve used a y/o cast off for the cuffs and I like it very much.

crafting · Knitting

Today I’m making…. Toe-up socks

I think I started knitting these toe-up socks earlier this year, the yarn is a mega cheapy from Tiger and to be honest the colour is lovely but lets just say I expect they will be hard wearing fellers and leave it at that.  The colour is lovely, a raspberry toed purple but I wouldn’t buy this yarn again.

Other projects distracted me for a while when the pattern asked for a 2.5mm short circular needle and I took an age to get around to buying one.  Mind you I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to use a circular I reckon I could have carried on with my carbon dpns quite happily though the circular does mean you can try them on as you go so that’s a bonus but I prefer the dpn’s.

 

 

I’ve never got on with the magic loop method either, I find it a bit of a faff so I think for me socks and circs don’t go.

So here we are working the heel and the finish line in sight so to speak.  If only I liked this yarn more, I’d feel more motivated to crack on with them.

I’m not that motivated to finish this book either, it looked good from the blurb on the back, its a collection of articles published by a writer who died young when he was swept out to sea whilst torturing fish.  Anyway turns out he was massively into dance culture and football which to me just means YOB. I’ve set myself a low target of reading 26 books this year and I’m already one book behind schedule and this bloke isn’t helping. Dunno about Bliss to be Alive, more like bliss to get to the end. Still it was a freebie from my days working at DK so can’t complain too much.

Why don’t I just rip these socks and make some with the huge stash of beautiful handspun hand dyed yarn I’ve bought from I Knit London and just squirreled away? I think there must be something wrong with me sometimes but then again these were supposed to be just a trial pair to see if I got on with a toe-up sock and I can take the fancy stuff with me to Westcliffe when I go back for a week at the end of July.

Oh didn’t I mention that before? I’ve only booked myself in for a whole week at the Westcliffe Knitting Hotel in Blackpool the last week of July.  Can’t bloody wait.