Meet The Designer #giftalong2014 (it’s me)

Hope you are having a good weekend. Things here are off to a slow start but that is how I like my Saturday morning.

After some intense deadline knitting over the last week I have a beautiful new secret project blocking and a little bit of breathing time to knit something that isn’t on a deadline. This is a wonderful feeling.

Last night I did a few rounds on my latest personal project, a very bright version of Snell. I am knitting this to wear on my bike as I cycle around Edinburgh. It is hopefully going to keep my neck warm and tone down my very bright luminous high visibility jacket (although I think I need to accept that nothing will ever tone that beast of a jacket down).

My Snell is being worked in Rainbow Heirloom. The “Sweater” base is a fabulous yarn is the colourways Highlighter and Grey Whale. I will be doing a full review of this yarn once I have worked with it for a little longer. Although I can already add that I knitted a hat for my little girl in the “Almost Spring” colourway and it is brilliant. The yarn blocks beautifully and wears really well.

photo-62

I also wanted to let you know about a lovely interview that Sashka Knits just did with me as part of the Ravelry #giftalong2014 event. You can read her interview on the Sashka Knits blog, click here to pop over to her little corner of the internet. 

Finally I am taking part in a very exciting KAL starting next week. More details on that tomorrow.

What are you working on at the moment? I love to hear about your projects.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Happy Knitting.

Clare

x

Caught My Eye – Yukiya

A day later than usual, here is this weeks Caught My Eye.

I first spotted this hat a while ago and immediately fell in love with the colours and the way the stitch patterns blends the yarns together to create such a beautiful effect.

When Julia Trice released the pullover I knew this has to be featured in”Caught my Eye”.

The Yukiya Hat uses three colours of 4 ply yarn, with the two contrasting colours needing only 55m each. A great way to stash bust!

Copyright: Julia Trice. Used with permission

Copyright: Julia Trice. Used with permission

Copyright: Julia Trice. Used with permission

Copyright: Julia Trice. Used with permission

The Yukiya pullover is knitted from the bottom up and uses the same slipped stitch pattern around the neckline. The circular yoke is very flattering and the pattern comes in ten sizes.

Copyright: Julia Trice. Used with permission

Copyright: Julia Trice. Used with permission

Copyright: Julia Trice. Used with permission

Copyright: Julia Trice. Used with permission

 Julia also has lots of other gorgeous patterns. I highly recommend having a look. 

Hope all my US readers had a wonderful thanks giving and that everyone has a fantastic weekend ahead.

Happy Knitting.

Clarex

Guest Post on Wovember Blog

header

I am honoured to have been asked to blog for Wovember. In true Clare style I have written about sock knitting and sock yarn. This time I have gone in search of the perfect sock yarn, without nylon. Yes folks, after all my advocating for nylon I have gone searching for the complete opposite.

I still think there is a need for nylon in sock yarns but my eyes have recently been opened to the world of sock knitting without nylon. Pop over to the Wovember blog to read the article I wrote for the team there. I hope you enjoy it. Click on the link to go straight to the article.

Pure Wool for Socks (no nylon here folks)

Happy knitting,

Clare

x

 

Episode 25: Choose Your Weapon! How to Choose Needles for Sock Knitting

My latest podcast segment with Jo is now ready for your listening pleasure. Hope you enjoy the show. I will be back later this week with more details to help you pick the best sock needles on the blog. Happy Knitting. Clare x

Shinybees

I heart ChiaoGoo. I heart ChiaoGoo.

Following on from the last episode, where we welcomed Clare Devine to talk about how to choose yarn for knitting socks, this episode sees us explore the next big life knitting question: which needles? Starting off the episode is a little bit of chat about recent travels, then there is a review of Msanzi: South Africa on my Needles from Sally Cameron. We have a giveaway from a fab new indie dyer, Coach House Yarns, before we get into all things needle related.

Introduction

I recently went down south on holiday (sort of!) for Sanimal to be baptised at the church I used to go to when I was at school. The average speed cameras on the A9 have recently been activated between Inverness and Dunblane which is a total cash cow in my opinion, thought up by someone who never uses that road! Coupled with the…

View original post 1,018 more words

Meet the Designer #giftalong2014

The Ravelry #giftalong2014 is well underway and today I have another fabulous interview with one of the designers who is participating. I chatted to Robynn Weldon, a fellow South African now living in Europe about her inspiration, designs and dream knitting. Hope you enjoy the interview.

Robynn has some stylish yet practical knits in her Ravelry store. I really like the Wraparound Mitts, the have an interesting construction and suit a slightly variegated yarn perfectly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another of my favourites is the matching pair of mitts and scarf / cowl / headband / ear warmer aka the “perfect accessory for keeping you warm on a run”. The Runaround Loop was designed because Robynn enjoys running. I enjoy a little jog now and again and cycle everywhere, so this is the perfect accessory for me. The matching Runaround Mitts are the perfect companion to the Runaround Loop.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

CD: Where do you find your design inspiration?

RW: Lack of ideas has never been the problem, only lack of time to execute them. All the more so now I have two small kids. The time factor means that regardless of what exotic or fashion-forward concepts you might find in my notebook, the ideas that make it to the top of the queue tend to be small, needful things (either for myself or my children); things that are fun to make, useful and well suited to stash diving! Necessity, in my case, is the mother of inspiration.

CD: What types of yarn do you love to work with? I would love to know about weights, fibre types, finishes, dyeing methods etc.

RW: I used to run a luxury knitting shop (Purlescence.co.uk) and as you might imagine, came away with an enviable stash of hand-dyed yarn. The sensual element of knitting has always been very important to me – I can’t be bothered to work with yarn I don’t love to handle and look at. But I also don’t want to waste time on something that’s going to fall apart quickly. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years learning about yarn (I even teach a workshop about it) and have formed some pretty strong preferences: while I love natural fibres, everything from linen to merino, I won’t buy singles or pure cashmere (both too pill-y and fragile!). My absolute favourite yarn is Posh Yarn Natasha (a camel/silk blend, amazing for lace) – Posh colours are incomparable, but I’m also a big fan of Sweet Georgia. As for weights, I favour anything between regular laceweight (not cobweb) and DK. I love the way lighter fabrics move, compared with chunkier weights, and it helps that they don’t add too much bulk to my frame.

CD: What is your favourite knitting technique?

RW: I really enjoy lace stitches. Cables are awesome too, textured stitches are fun, but lace is very satisfying to me.

CD: What is your most treasured or most useful knitting tool?

RW: A girl can never have enough tape measures.

CD: What is your favourite quick gift knit pattern, and why?

RW: I don’t knit a lot of gifts. You have to be really deserving to get a knit from me, and I’ll put a lot of thought into choosing something that is just your style. But I’ve been very tempted by some of the quirkier patterns in the GAL – Platypus by Selina S, or the Neck Kraken by Annie Watts! They would be so fun to gift.

CD: If someone knitted you a gift what would you love to receive?

RW: Oh, a lovely wide scarf! Scarves are awesome, and there are so many fantastic patterns, but I don’t knit a lot of them. Maybe because I have a short attention span and scarves are so looooong.

CD: Any tips for those taking part in the GAL this year?

RW: Remember gifts for yourself count too. You know the recipient will appreciate it, and they’re surely deserving!

CD: Will you be casting anything on for the #giftalong2014?

RW: Hell yes. I’ve bought eight patterns (!) – you can see which ones on my blog – and while I’m obviously not going to be knitting all of them by GAL end, I’m hoping to have a good try. One of them is your own Jozi. I love socks that make good use of handpainted yarn, and as a South African myself, how could I resist?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

CD: If someone gave you a two week knitting holiday (24 / 7 knitting and relaxing time) what projects, patterns and yarn would you pack in your bags?

RW: What a magnificent fantasy… I long for uninterrupted time for proper, big projects and delicious lace, so I’d pack Marnie MacLean’s Arctium shawl, with a gorgeous skein of Natasha from my stash. But best of all I’d have time to work on my own hibernating Big Designs: a cowl-neck pullover in some fabulous grey alpaca/silk from The Uncommon Thread, and an oversized, richly textured fine-gauge tunic. I think Holst Garn’s Coast would be perfect for that.

Even for a fantasy, that’s more knitting than I could possibly accomplish in two weeks, but I make it a firm rule never to go away with fewer than three projects. Say one craps out, one goes faster than you think, and then what?

You can find Robynn as @woollythinker on Twitter and Pinterest, and her website is studio-miranda.com.

I hope you enjoyed this interview. Are you taking part in the #giftalong2014? There are so many wonderful prizes to be won and a great chatty knit along happening over in the Ravelry group. Pop over and say hi. 

Happy knitting,

Clare

My Favourite Commercial Sock Yarns

Earlier this week I wrote about my favourite indy dyed sock yarns. I love hand dyed yarn and relish the opportunity to knit with skeins that have been lovingly and masterfully dyed by talented creative individuals. However, this does not mean that commercial mill dyed yarns do not have a place in my sock knitting adventures. There are some fabulous yarn shops online and many beautiful bricks and mortar shops that stock a wide range of yarn produced on a commercial scale.

Here are a selection of my favourite mill dyed yarns.

Araucania Ranco. 75% Wool / 25% Polyamide, with 344m to 100g. These yarns are produced in Chile and come in solids and variegated. The colours are beautiful and the yarn is lovely to work with. It wears and washes well too, I have a very well loved pair of socks in this base.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Manos Del Uruguay Alegria. 75% Wool / 25% Polyamide, with a generous 400m to 100g. The colours of this yarn are out of this world amazing. Their bright and bold colours are the ones that capture my heart. Where better to let your colour choices run wild than on your feet? They do have some more subdued yarns too if you prefer a more toned down sock knitting experience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Schoppel Wolle Crazy Zauberball75% Wool / 25% Polyamide, with a generous 400m to 100g. Two strands of dyed yarn and twisted together to bring you a variegated striping effect. I love this stuff. It is fabulous colourful sock yarn. It also comes in a heavier weight for thicker and quicker socks. Some of the colour combinations are very bright but others are more subdued (and still fantastic). I have a pair of vanilla top down socks on the needles at the moment in the black and white colourway.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Regia 4 ply. This is the king of commercial sock yarn in my book. 75% wool / 25% nylon, machine washable and with a 10 year guarantee. This stuff is made to last. It is also soft and lovely to work with, and the best bit … it comes in a ridiculously wide range of colours from neutrals to neons and everything in-between. They also produce the cute itty bitty My First Regia, a 25g ball. These are perfect for contrasting heels and toes or baby socks.

Regia Design Line comes in a fantastic range of colours and stripes as you knit. You can buy it in 50g balls. At under a fiver each I think this is great value sock yarn. Don’t forget it lasts “forever”, well it has a ten year guarantee which is good enough for me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rowan Fine Art. 45% Wool 20% Mohair 25% Polyamide 10% Silk with 400m to 100g this luxurious blend is made in my home country, South Africa. The Mohair and Polyamide serve to strengthen the Merino (South African Merino is deliciously soft), the silk pops in to add a touch of extra luxury. The yarn comes in a stunning range of hand painted colours. Rachel Coopey has a fantastic book of socks designed with this yarn. Her designs are brilliantly put together and her patterns are clear and easy to follow. I definitely recommend taking a look.

Last, but certainly not least is one of my current favourite workhorse yarns. West Yorkshire Spinners have been extending their range recently and I love what they are doing. The new Signature 4ply range is perfect for socks and very well priced. It comes in a great range of colours and a good selection of variegated / self patterning yarns. The wool / nylon blend is perfect for socks. Their DK and Aran weight yarn would also be good for thicker socks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What is your favourite brand of commercial / mill dyed sock yarn? I would love to hear from you about what you have on your needles at the moment.

Don’t forget to tune into the latest episode of the Shinybees podcast later tonight for the next segment of “Sock Surgery” where Jo, Kate and I chat about choosing needles.

Happy Knitting.

Clare

x

PS: Many of the photographs in this post have been taken from LoveKnitting.com and Tangled-Yarn.co.ukI used these two shops because I think they are great online retailers and they have fabulous photos and a good range of sock yarns. This is not a sponsored post, just me (as usual) giving a shout out for the yarn and fibre products I love.

#giftalong2014 Are You Taking Part?

The discount period for the #giftalong2014 might be over now but the fun is only just beginning over in the knit-along boards. There is so much activity sometimes it is hard to keep up. I love watching everyones projects take shape. Have you joined the group on Ravelry yet? Click here for all the details. 

Remember there are lots of prizes to be won and some exciting games to play in the knit-along. All paid for patterns from participating designers are eligible for knit-along entries.

The knit-along lasts until the 31st December at midnight EST. 

Are you taking part? What are you knitting?

I would love to hear about your general knitting adventures. 

I have some deadline knitting to get out of the way but I am itching to cast on some mitts by Laura Aylor called Spiced Cocoa (I might have mentioned these mitts a few times recently, I am rather obsessed with them). I also have my eye on a Artisan by Elizabeth Felgate, a squishy garter stitch jumper (although I doubt that will be finished by the end of December).

Copyright Laura Aylor

Spiced Cocoa. Copyright Laura Aylor

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am yet to decide on what I am gift knitting for this year. I think I will be keeping it very low key as I have lots of deadline knitting to do too. Definitely a hat for the little one in my life and something for my mom (she is very knit worthy) – maybe I will make some Spiced Cocoa Mitts for her too.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Happy Knitting.

Clare

x

My Top 10 “Hands and Feet” Knits #giftalong2014

Hope your week is going well. The #giftalong2014 is going very well on Ravelry and lots of folk are already finishing their WIPS (works in progress) and posting them in the forums. Pop over and have a look, and while you are there you might want to join in with the chatter in the threads.

Today I have some of my favourite knits for keeping hands and feet warm.

My personal knitting time is limited these days but I definitely want to knit myself these mitts Spiced Cocoa by Laura Aylor. I love the angle created by the fabric on the Spiced Cocoa mitts. I have the perfect Rainbow Heirloom yarn for these in my stash.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I love the slightly unusual combination of garter stitch and cables featured in Side by Side by Katya Frankel

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jenise Reid is a very talented design and the clever construction of these mitts is testament to her thoughtful design process. Pull Mitts are knitted on the bias and fit beautifully. They are definitely on my “to-knit” list.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am a great admirer of colourwork and these mittens really struck a chord with me. I am an African girl at heart, and no matter how long I am away from my home there is something majestic about the long neck of a giraffe and the idea of an African sunset that will always capture my imagination. Giraffes at Sunset by Erica Mount really are a stunning example of colourwork. I love them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Strong lines created by twisted stitches and rib always draw me in. Sunshine Fingerless Mitts by Kate Bostwick are a stunning example of the structural beauty that these stitches produce.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade has come up with another corker here. Her grey and yellow combo gets me every single time. These long length Global Nomad Handwarmers go with the cowl I featured the other day. I love how they can fold down or be pulled up over your fingers. A great, quick knit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now that you have warm feet, let’s turn our attention to your feet.

Nobody likes cold feet.

I love socks, there is no denying that I am a sock fan. There are a few designers who constantly impress me with their design skills and Hunter Hammersen is one of them. She is a sock genius, her designs are majestic in their beauty. Many are not for the faint hearted, they are certainly not “mindless TV knitting” but they deliver on an aesthetic level like very few other designers do. Here are three of my favourites that are discounted for the #giftalong2014.

Crocus Vernus

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chrysanthemum Frutescens

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Vanessa Antiopa

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hunter also has these super cute little slippers, Quiescent, that I am very tempted to knit for myself after I make my all time favorite slippers by Jenise Reid.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are those Jenise Reid slippers that have captured my heart, Persian Curled Toes Slippers. Unusual and just absolutely brilliant. I have bought the pattern and just need some free time to get started.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am not usually a leg warmer person but now that I live in the cold northern hemisphere I think I could become one. This cute pair by Lee Meredith could certainly sway me.  Twisted Ankles Lee Meredith. Worked in bulky yarn they must be a very quick knit. I love that they button behind your legs, perfect for whipping on and off. I bet they are great for cycling (hmmmm I think I should cast some of these on for my daily bike rides in Edinburgh).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last, but certainly not least are a fabulous pair of socks Rainbow Pipes and Linen Stitch Socks by Aurelie Colas. These rainbow socks really make me smile. I love how Aurelie has incorporated linen stitch and the combination of grey and rainbow colours couldn’t fail to brighten your day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This was bound to be a bumper post. There are so many wonderful designs out there at the moment. Mittens, fingerless gloves, socks and slippers make perfect gifts for other (and for yourself). What are you waiting for – cast on!

Don’t forget the #giftalong2014 sale ends at midnight (EST) tomorrow 21st November. Until then a fantastic selection of patterns are 25%.

I have 19 designs featured in the discount promotion. Including Edina, the fingerless mitts and Maryfield, the cute lace cuffs from the Head to Toe collection. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Have a wonderful Friday.

Happy knitting,

Clare

 

Earl Grey (new design) and a free pattern

Hi there,

The week is moving swiftly along and I thought I would drop past on this lovely Wednesday to share two new releases with you.

The first is my new hat pattern, Earl Grey. Designed for a cable workshop I instantly fell in love with the cables (and pom pom opportunity) and knew I needed to release this as a new hat pattern.

Earl Grey works up quickly in squishy aran weight yarn, resulting in the perfect cabled hat. Great for gift knitting and equally good for keeping your head toasty this winter.

Earl Grey_Hat_Brigantia1 copy_with text

 The pattern is 50% off until midnight 23rd November with the code “blog50”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jess made a fabulous sample in her new Super Sheep Aran base. We are calling this one ‘mint tea’ and look at that pom pom! We have so much love for the pom pom at the moment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

We were even joined by a beautiful rainbow when I went to take pictures of Jess in her hat this morning.

Earl Grey_Hat_GHD_Selkie01

 

My second release is a quick and easy freebie. This pattern is used in one of the workshops I teach at Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh and I wanted to share it with all my lovely blog readers.

Toasty. The perfect chunky cowl. 

Download your copy of Toasty for free, here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you have a wonderful day.

Happy knitting,

Clare

x

My Favourite Yarns for Socks

Last week Jo from the Shinybees Podcast and I chatted to Kate about how to choose the best your for your sock knitting adventures. If you haven’t already listened to the podcast pop over to Jo’s blog and catch up with all the latest “Sock Surgery” news. 

I thought it might be handy to give you a little round up of some of my all time favourite sock yarns. Today I am looking at hand dyed yarns and later this week I will be doing a round up of mill dyed yarns.

In alphabetical order, because it is too hard to pick a favourite, favourite from all this amazing yarn.

Feast your eyes on these hand dyed beauties …

Eden Cottage Yarns: Victoria from Eden Cottage Yarns is a master dyer and her sophisticated yarns have levels of depth rarely seen in hand dyed yarns. I am always astounded by how much she packs into a single skein while maintaining a serene quality to the colourways. Hayton 4ply is everything you need in a sock base, Merino and Cashmere to envelope your luxurious softness with a touch of nylon for strength. The stunning colours are perfect showing off detailed stitch patterns and cables. Alternatively knit something plain and simple letting the colour shine through in all it’s glory.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kettle Yarn Company: Linda hails from Canada but now lives in the South of England. She originally came to the UK for her MA in Painting and you can see the artists coloursense in her amazing colour range. She has some really soft and silky luxurious fibres (great for shawls not socks) and then a fabulous high twist Blue Face Leicester. Twist is perfect for luxurious yet durable socks. It comes in a wide range of colours from muted classics like Old Smoke to gorgeous brights like Fiery Flamingo. She has a fantastic “Wear Chart” that grades each of her bases according to how much “shaving” it will require. Take a look, it’s genius. Her BFL base comes in 50g and 100g skeins. The smaller skeins are perfect for contrasting heels and toes, stripes or colourwork.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ginger’s Hand Dyed: Jess is from Oregon but now calls Edinburgh her home. She is also the owner of my fabulous local yarn shop, Ginger Twist Studio here in Edinburgh. It is no secret that I love her line of hand dyed yarn. I have worked with her on a number of exciting projects and we have more coming up in the new year. I have just finished designing a pair of socks in her Sheepish Sock base and had to include it in this list. A blend of Blue Faced Leicester and Nylon you get the best of both worlds here. The stunning sheen and softness of BFL and the added durability of nylon. A great all round sock yarn.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Knitting Goddess – Joy from The Knitting Goddess produces some of the best brights and she has one of my favourite sock yarns. Britsock – a custom spin, just for The Knitting Goddess is made up of 40% BFL, 20% Wensleydale, 20% Alpaca and 20% Nylon. I was sent a skein of this for Cuboid my design that featured in The Knitter a while ago. It has a fuzzy halo and is pure bliss to work with. It also comes in a three fantastic ranges, variegated, semi-solid and self-striping.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ripples Craft – Helen from Ripples Craft, originally from South Africa now lives in the north of Scotland. Her yarn is often inspired by the breathtaking landscape that surrounds her and she produces some spectacular colourways as part of her Assynt Storms series. Her Reliable Sock base does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a great reliable sock base, perfect for socks, soft (thanks to the 75% Merino) and durable (that will be the 25% nylon). She has great colourways, I love the rich Assynt Peat and the spectacular variegated Assynt Storm colourways. Remember to choose your pattern carefully when using brightly coloured variegated yarns. You want yarn and pattern to work together and not against each other.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There you have it folks, some of my favourite British based hand dyed yarns. There are, of course, many more hand dyers that I love but these are my current favourites for socks that are easily accessible to me in the UK.

Do you have a favourite sock yarn? I would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments. I am always up for learning about new sock yarns and hand dyers.

Happy Knitting,

Clare

x