Life With Yarn

Posts Tagged ‘knitting

On the needles

It’s all about little projects or spending time on the Shipwreck shawl at the moment as we’re going away in a couple of weeks and I don’t want to start anything big or take something too big away with me. In that vein, I cast on some DK weight socks last night in some Mirasol Hacho that has been sat in my stash for far too long. I’m just working a plain toe up sock until I run out of yarn – I might add a stitch pattern to the leg but it depends on my mood when I get to that bit.

Off the needles

I have quite a lot of pictures this time of things I’ve been working on since my last post.

First up is my Flare jumper, designed by the very talented Veera Valimaki and knit in Posh Yarn Natasha sock which is a camel/silk blend that is so soft and so luxurious that I just love wearing this. This was my unofficial Ravellenics project – unofficial because I didn’t cast on until a week into the Games. I did, however, finish it in under 16 days so I’m pretty proud of that achievement.

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I also finished another top for me which is the Watershed cardigan, designed by Amy Swenson and knit in more Posh Yarn, this time Caitlin Aran. This was a quick knit that I plan to take on holiday to wear over dresses and strappy tops in the evening. The only modification I made to the pattern was changing the way the decrease was worked and adding the sleeves.



I also got two pairs of socks off the needles – my Circle socks in Zitron Trekking XXL and the Juugatsu socks in Ring-a-Rosie Handpainted yarn. This year is definitely turning into a year of socks and tops.

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But it wasn’t all knitting for me, I also finished this top for Zoe which is Kismet and I knit it in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply (the black stripes) and Artisan Telfi (the pink stripes). She loves it.




It just fell into my bag

There’s not actually much to show this time. I got a couple of club yarns in the post, which I haven’t managed to photograph yet, and the other yarn I’ve ordered has yet to arrive. I did buy a couple of project bags from AmeliaXJoy on Etsy which are beautiful and a good size for a pair of socks in progress. I also bought some wooden stitch markers from here, which are beautiful and there were two packs of free wooden buttons included in the order as well both of which are lovely and I look forward to finding the perfect garment to put them on.

I have also been buying a few non-knitting-related things, including some cook books by Nigel Slater and Mary Berry as well as some fiction.

Where’s my bookmark?

I’ve read some good books recently, including Caleb Carr’s The Alienist which I loved. Right now, I’m reading Helen Dunmore’s Your Blue-eyed Boy and I’m not entirely convinced I’m going to finish it. I picked it up because I remember reading a passage of Dunmore’s writing when I did my English A-level (which feels like a lifetime and a half ago now) and liking it so the name stuck (along with Bruce Chatwin, although I’ve yet to read anything by him either). However, I’m finding the story a little slow and I do tend to have the attitude these days that I have so many books I really want to read that I won’t waste a lot of time reading one that I’m a bit meh about.

What I’m watching

As well as my usual knitting podcasts, my husband and I have downloaded The Wire box set and are steadily working our way through season one right now. We’re also enjoying the new season of The Walking Dead and The Musketeers which is showing on the BBC right now. I do love my American dramas though so I’m also currently addicted to The Following and Bones. We very rarely watch TV live any more – we are far more likely to record it and watch it later on which means we’re usually at least an episode behind everyone else!

Family life

We’re currently preparing for our trip to South Africa next month to stay with the in-laws for 2 weeks. I’m really looking forward to a few days in Cape Town and hopefully getting the chance to go to Robben Island as well as taking the girls up Table Mountain. I’m also looking forward to some warmer weather as the strong winds we’ve been experiencing this last week are draining. And of course, I’m already plotting which projects I’ll be taking away with me – I have at least 3 pairs of socks planned and probably a shawl as well. I always end up taking too much with me but I’d rather have too much knitting than suddenly run out before our long flights home!



On the needles

Christmas knitting is really getting going here this week. I cast on some socks for Eloise using the Dainty Anklets from Wendy B Johnson – I’m omitting the knitted on picot edging though. Both girls have been wearing socks to bed the last few nights so these will be for them to wear in bed. I’m using Rico Design Superba Poems which is in rainbow stripes (except green, don’t know why). I’m not being precious with the stripes, so Eloise’s first sock runs purple, orange, yellow, blue, purple whereas her second sock is so far pink, purple, pink so they don’t looked matched but she won’t care in the slightest. The yarn is ok, it reminds me of Noro Kureyon sock with the long repeats and the yarn is a little uneven at times with some rather thin bits. I know Noro can be quite divisive – it has big fans because of the colours but plenty of people who swear to never use it because of the bits in it and the thick/thin nature of the yarn. I quite like Noro – I love the colours and I love how it softens up with washing. The main problem I have with the Rico Superba is the splitting – it’s a single ply and is not tightly spun in places which means it’s splitting on me quite often. 

The pattern, on the other hand, is lovely – as Wendy B Johnson’s patterns are – plus with them being for Eloise, they are knitting up superquick. I’ve completed 1 sock and just turned the heel on the second so that’ll be finished in the next day or so.

I also cast on some Seamless Saloma slippers by Megan Williams (of the Stockinette Zombies podcast) in Cascade 220 in black for Duncan as part of his Christmas present. This is a great free pattern on Ravelry and what I love is that the finished object looks not like a slipper at all – you’ll see next week, as these are flying off the needles as well (handily because I don’t get a lot of knitting time when Duncan isn’t around at the moment).

Final new cast on of the week are some Barbie clothes for Zoe for Christmas. So far, just a skirt, but I’ve got patterns for a couple of dresses, tops and trousers as well so hopefully Barbie will have a better wardrobe come December 25th.

I still have Shipwreck on the needles but I doubt it’ll get much love before Christmas now.

Off the needles

My Austin hoodie is finally finished (well, apart from the ends being woven in). No pics just in case my sister is reading, but you can click on the link and see a couple of shots. They’re not great because the sweater is blocking and I can’t model it because it won’t fit me. The pattern was a little unclear at times but I do like it and I would make it again – although would probably make some more mods, including some sort of fastening. I used some undyed merino/silk blend that I bought on Ebay, so nothing named, but I loved it – I’ve have 2 skeins left and will probably get some more and dye up for a top for me. What I loved was how the yarn plumped up nicely when blocked so the whole thing looked more substantial. I did manage to finish it in time for the end of November and the end of NaKniSweMo – I definitely would still be knitting on it without that motivation

It just fell into my bag

It has been a bad week for my debit card this week, but I’d prefer to think of it as supporting small businesses. From Violet Green I picked up some Exmoor Bluefaced sock yarn for some socks for Duncan for Christmas which is a kind of grey/brown colour, quite paler than I expected – which is always the problem with yarn shopping online, the colour may not be quite the same on your monitor as it really is. Even this photo makes it look more grey than it is, but I could not get the colour right in any shot I took.


As I was ordering from Violet Green, I also added some sock yarn for me in a lovely blue colour and some undyed sock yarn as well.


I also picked up some sock yarn from Ring a Rosie a couple of weeks ago which I managed to photograph this week:


I also had a major accident at the Posh Yarn update this weekend but as they’ve not arrived yet, they really can’t be counted in this week’s post. That was, however, my last spend before Christmas now – I have lots of gift knitting to finish and a sample due later this month – I’m currently waiting for the yarn to arrive – and lots of sweater quantities to be getting on with in the meantime.

Where’s my bookmark?

I’ve not had a lot of time for reading recently – I’m edging into slightly panicked Christmas mode now – but recently, I’ve read Buffy & Philosophy: Fear & trembling in Sunnydale which is a collection of essays examining Buffy the Vampire Slayer in terms of philosophy. It was a really interesting read, but made me want to sit down with some episodes and watch them again. Right now I’m reading Letters from London by Julian Barnes which is a collection of 15 essays he wrote for New Yorker magazine between 1990 and 1995. Many of them have a political focus and as it’s a time when I wasn’t all that interested in politics (or anything beyond music and my own life, I was 13 – 18 when they were written), it’s been an educational read for me.

Finally, after what seems like forever, I have a new pattern to release: Lacuna shawl.Image

It is available to buy through Ravelry or through Craftsy or you can contact me directly to buy it. It’s a bottom up laceweight shawl with some of the lace worked on both sides, but the stocking stitch sections allow the mind to rest slightly. The sample is worked in 

About 3/4 years ago, not long after I discovered Ravelry and turned a hobby into an obsession, I learnt about the TKGA Masters Program for Hand Knitting organised by The Knitting Guild of America. Over time, I’ve come back to the website quite often and wondered about it. I consider myself an intermediate to advanced knitter but I know I don’t know everything and would definitely like to expand my knitting skills. But no matter how many times I looked at it, I never signed up because I just can’t justify spending that amount of money on something in one go. Obviously (slightly depressingly) if I added up all the yarn I’d bought in the last 12 months it undoubtedly comes to more than the price of all 3 levels of the TKGA course ($375 for all 3 levels), but that was in bits and pieces (except all the fun at Woolfest). So it’s always been something that seems like a good idea, that I’d definitely get some enjoyment from but is very much pie in the sky.

But last week, I was reading a thread on a designers group on Ravelry which talked about doing the program and the very talented Alex Tinsley linked to a blog post she’d written back in 2008 when she’d considered doing the TGKA program. Instead of signing up for the course, she wrote a list of the things she wanted to learn how to do and decided to try and do it herself. Now, she admits she didn’t get very far down that list but I liked the idea. So last night, I sat down and wrote down what I’d like to learn and boy, oh, boy, do I know nothing about knitting. I mean, I know a bit, but once I’d written this list down, I felt like I knew nothing. 

I thought I’d post the list here, with the links I’ve found so far to help me out, and hopefully it’ll mean I come back to it once in a while and gives me something else to blog about. So here it is:

Different cast ons: Knitting Help tutorialsPurlwise 

Casting off: Knitting help, Interlock bind off 

Decreases: Knitting help 

Increases: Knitting help 
grafting: Purlwise

Magic loop 
Two at a time socks
afterthought heel
fleegle heel
padded sweet tomato heel (have done a regular sweet tomato heel a while ago)
reinforced heels
other different heels – Knitty, Sock knitters 
different toes
Short row toe (toe up socks)
Easy toes (toe up socks) 
unconventional constructions – These are all Ravelry patterns with different constructions for socks: double helix, skew, perpendicular (or similar, don’t have this book), entrelac socks, mitered windowpane, stripe tease, hunger games extreme socks, outside in, hub of fashion, grun ist die hoffnung

Double knitting – signed up for a craftsy class & have a couple of patterns already chosen
Illusion knitting
Japanese short rows 
jogless stripes 
reversible cables – palindrome
Slip stitch/mosaic knitting – Barbara walker books
reverse knitting 
Knitting back 
Norweigan purl 
Joining yarn techniques 
one row buttonhole 
Diagonal knitting

KnitPurlHunter and TechKnitter both have lots of info & video tutorials to look at.

I’d also like to do a lot of swatches of stitches from my stitch dictionaries. I’ve drawn up a list on paper but I’m not going to list them all here. Some of them are about new techniques but plenty of them are stitches that I like the look of and want to use at some point so I figure if I swatch them out now, I can get a better idea of how I want to use them and will have some reference points for future ideas.


Now, I don’t believe for one minute that learning all of this will make me the world’s most awesome knitter, or even close to being so, but I do think that in the long run, if I want to keep on getting ideas down as designs, I need a wider knowledge of some things. Plus all those swatches will be great for using up random leftover balls of yarn.

Alongside this, this month will see me knitting my new cardigan pattern and hopefully getting it tested and looked over by a tech editor. I have another 3 patterns to write up and another couple of ideas to sketch and swatch out – quite a lot really, so I’m not sure it’ll all get done unless I start planning my time a whole lot better and maybe give up some sleeping (never going to happen!)



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The nights are drawing in and the wind is blowing, which makes it perfect knitting weather. I’m not sure, being in the UK, if there is ever not perfect knitting weather – certainly our summers don’t get so hot that I can’t knit – but the change in the air definitely means autumn is settling in and winter will not be long in arriving. We’re now past the start of term, routines are established in the house again and things are calm – my daughters’ birthdays are both gone and we’re not quite at the hustle and bustle of the start of Christmas, although it’s definitely on my mind right now.

And, as always, the needles have been clicking madly. I’ve worked on a couple of commissions:

and have another pair of booties to finish up over the weekend. I’ve also been working on finishing a shawl for myself and some Christmas gifts. I also still have pattern writing and a couple of swatches to work through in the next couple of weeks for a magazine submission. There definitely doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day! I totally admire full-time designers – I love the design process but when it comes to actually typing the pattern up, I am not nearly disciplined enough and easily distracted. I do wonder though, if they have to just knit for themselves or friends/family? I keep living in hope that once the youngest starts at preschool next September, and school the year after (eek!), if that will mean I can get more stuff done. I’d like to think so but somehow, I doubt it!

I love September. It’s so much more the start of new things, for me, than January 1st ever will be. There’s that back to school feeling and a need to buy stationery – which I’ve so far resisted but only because I am so busy right now that wandering aimlessly round Paperchase going ‘Oh, pretty, must have’ is a disappointingly low priority right now.

But it is a new term, a new start and my eldest has gone back to school and celebrated her 6th birthday in the last week. Now her birthday is out of the way, I can officially starting thinking about Christmas. I know I’ve said in at least my last 2 posts that I’m starting the Christmas knitting but, to be honest, I’ve failed miserably at starting it. I made one quick gift a couple of months ago and I have (finally) finished this:

It’s a Christmas stocking for my youngest. My mum made me and my siblings one when we were little and so I’ve taken my stocking and written a pattern from it (she made it up as she went) and added a new picture to it. This is the one pattern I currently have for sale of Ravelry as well. So now both girls have stockings for Father Christmas to fill with goodies in December.

So the intention to start the gift knitting has definitely been there – I’ve balled up the yarn for my sister’s cardigan and I’ve cast on and knit one leg of a giraffe toy for the youngest (my first ever attempt at toy knitting as well). But then things went a bit out the window. I’ve completed a couple of baby shoe commissions, have a 3rd lined up and am also halfway through a pair of baffies/slippers for another friend and probably have a couple of baby blankets to do as well. This is just as I was beginning to think that the commission knitting was maybe something I’d do later and I was going to focus on some new designs first. I have a pair of gloves designed and knitted, just need to write that pattern up and see about getting it tested. I also need to consider whether to add the baby blanket pattern that I made for my nephew. I want to but there’s a couple of kinks in it – not least being I knit mine in discontinued yarn so I need to see how it would turn out in other yarns. At some point I also want to revisit the skirt that I made for my eldest and see if I can make a couple of changes to it to improve it.

In the meantime, I shall enjoy the last whirl of summer before the autumnal weather arrives.

So it is another WIP Wednesday. There’s not actually a lot on the needles right now, I am working on a shawl by YarnAddict, Anniken Allis which is one of my Ravellenic Games projects. So far, as part of the Ravellenic Games, I’ve completed this shawl byMichelle Miller, the Fickleknitter:


I still need to complete Eloise’s Christmas stocking and dye some wool, but there’s still a few more days to go. At least the weather is good so I should be able to dye the wool today or tomorrow and get it dried.

I’ve also been busy with other things. I posted my nephew’s present, so can now post a pic here. I made this blanket:

I’ve also submitted a proposal for my first magazine design. This is more nerve wracking than I thought it would be but also quite exciting. I will hear, one way or the other, by the end of the month and if it doesn’t get accepted, will probably release the pattern anyway. This is the first time I’ve designed something without it being for family or friends, the first time I’ve not been meeting a need for a particular item. It comes on the back of a little disappointment with the skirt I made for Zoe. I’ve tried and failed to get it test knit on Ravelry so for now it is going on the back burner. I don’t feel happy releasing a pattern that has not been knit at least once in every size and, to be honest, I was never quite 100% happy with it myself. I plan to redesign it slightly and then try again, but it’ll be in a couple of months now as the start of August also signals, to me at least, time to get on with present knitting. I have my list, I now need to get started. Hopefully this level of forward planning will mean I am not still knitting crazily on Christmas Eve, with sore hands, and my husband should get his knitted gift on Christmas Day, rather than always being the one who has to wait until a couple of days later. That’s the plan anyway, but we shall see if it actually happens!

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