Last Round Up for 2014

Copyright Jay Mantri. Source www.jaymatri.com

Copyright Jay Mantri. Source http://www.jaymatri.com

The holidays are upon us and although I still have lots going on behind the scenes I am taking a little break from the blog.

I will be back in early January with a new website and lots of exciting news 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for coming along on this journey with me in 2014. It has been a fantastic year and I have met so many amazing knitty folk from all corners of the globe. I have really enjoyed watching you knit my patterns and have loved getting to know you through this space on the internet.

2015 is going to be an exciting year, there are lots of changes afoot here but some things will remain the same. I will be here blogging about all things fibre related, I will still be knitting and designing in all my spare time and Jo and I will be chatting every two weeks about my undying love of socks.

A few final bits and pieces before I sign off for the year

If you want to keep up with my holidays festivities you can follow me on Instagram (most likely to be filled with knitting and food) or on Twitter. 

I will be taking part in the TGS is one KAL. A celebration of one year of The Golden Skein where we are knitting my latest shawl pattern Kunye. If you have a single skein of fingering weight yarn and fancy a good knit-along pop over to this thread and join in. 

Kunye_Low Res_05 Discount

If you want to buy this pattern or any of my other patterns you can take advantage of a special discount code I set up for Aplayfulday and her ‘me-along’ – use the code ‘playful’ and you will get 33% off anything in my Ravelry store until the 31st December. 

Workshops

If you want to book in for a 2015 workshop my schedules are now up on the relevant shop websites. I will be teaching in Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow in January and February.

January and February slots at Ginger Twist Studio, Edinburgh teaching a range of workshops.

January and February slots at Queen of Purls, Glasgow teaching a range of workshops.

7th February at Fluph, Dundee teaching Magic Loop and Finishing School.

I also have an exciting slot at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. If you want to get to grips with socks this is the perfect opportunity to master the basics. It would also make a great christmas present for the knitter in your life.

Sock Surgery

Finally if you have some free time and want to listen to the first few episodes of the Sock Surgery segment on the Shinybees podcast this is a great time to catch up. We will be announcing the knit-along and lots of other exciting bits in the new year.

That is it from me for now folks. I hope you have a wonderful holiday break. With lots of time for knitting and relaxing.

Here’s to a fantastic 2015!

See you in a few weeks.

Happy knitting.

Clare

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Guest Post on Wovember Blog

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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How to Choose Yarn for Socks

If you listened to the Shinybees podcast and popped over for some more detailed information – welcome, I hope you like what you find. If you have not listened to the Shinybees podcast episode where we chat about yarn choices for socks I highly recommend you tune in, it is a great podcast – and the perfect intro for this article.

So, how do I go about choosing the right yarn for my socks?

How to choose sock yarn revised

When thinking about my sock knitting I always try to think about things in relation to three main categories: fit, durability and aesthetic. I find that by thinking in these terms I can often evaluate what I need from my tools, the pattern or stitches I am using to put together a design, or select a pattern.

On the topic of yarn I think these three categories are important and to use them effectively you need to think of the purpose of your socks. Are you knitting delicate little socks for a newborn baby or tough boot socks for hiking? These are extremes and you are probably looking for something in between. You need to evaluate what the most important elements are and then make selections accordingly.

This might all have started sounding very complicated so let me give you some hints and tips for making the right choices when you are first starting out. It is also worth remembering that it is all a matter of personal taste.

First let me explain my broad categories then we can look at requirements and yarn suggestions using them.

Fit: Just what it says on the tin, how will the socks fit. This is determined by many factors but yarn is certainly a key player. You need to ask yourself. How is the yarn you have chosen going to affect the fit of the sock? You want to look at things like fibre content and the way the yarn has been spun.

Durability: Think about how the socks will wear. To determine what you are looking for here you need to think about the use or purpose of the socks. Everyday socks, socks for babies, boot socks, fancy occasion socks. What kind of shoes will you be wearing them with? Again we will be looking at fibre content and how the yarn has been spun.

Aesthetic: What are the socks going to look like? Here you need to ask yourself questions about the design and your own personal tastes. Is there a pattern that you want to highlight or are they plain vanilla socks? Here we are going to be looking at things like colours, dye techniques, texture and the way the yarn is spun.

The process of choosing yarn now centres around these three categories. Let’s chat a little more about what to look for when thinking about each category.

Fit

In my opinion when it comes to socks fit is always the most important factor. Poorly fitting socks are terrible. Who wants a baggy sock bunched around their ankles, or even worse bunched inside your shoe around your toe.

In all honesty fit is not completely controlled by yarn choice, the main players when it comes to fit are gauge and measuring, however there are a few things to consider.

Try to avoid silk, or yarn with a high silk content. It drapes and does not hold its shape well. You could choose something with 10 or 15% silk but any more than that and you are heading for some fit issues. The same with bamboo and cotton, they are notoriously bad for holding their shape. Approach with caution when choosing yarn for socks.

Ideally you want something with a high natural fibre content that has been spun in a way that gives it structure. Sock knitters often favour tightly spun yarns, and while you don’t have to select a super twist yarn choosing a lofty loosely spun yarn might not do you any favours.

Summary: choose natural fibres and avoid anything with lots of drape (high silk, cotton or bamboo content).

Durability

This is another key player in the choices we make about socks. The vast majority of socks get lots of wear. They are on our feet, in our shoes. Inevitably they get hot and maybe damp (sorry but it has to be said). Damp fibre with heat and friction = felting. Lots of friction on knitting fabric = holes. We want our socks to last, how do we achieve this.

Nylon my friends, even avid lovers of natural fibres will often admit that nylon is their friend when it comes to socks. It gives strength and increases the durability and wear of the knitted fabric.

I would recommend aiming for between 10% and 25% nylon for your sock yarns. Personally I would not go for more than 25% as I want the natural fibre / wool to shine but that is a matter of personal choice.

When it comes to selecting your natural fibre of choice not all wool is created equal. Where you might often be tempted by the softest merino for your new jumper I would not always jump at the fine micron stuff for my socks. Remember you need something that wears well and the finest yarn is not always the most durable. Hence why the Blue Faced Leicester is often a hit with sock knitters. Still soft, but more durable than merino, add some nylon and you have a fabulous sock yarn.

Blends are often popular with sock knitters and some fibres are added for strength. Mohair is sometimes found in sock yarns and makes a wonderfully durable fibre when blended with merino and nylon.

Summary: choose something with added nylon or polyamide for strength. When selecting natural fibres go for something soft if you prefer but also opt for something with a little bit of strength. The tighter the spin, the more durable the sock yarn is in most cases.

Aesthetic

Often I think this category is put first, when I think it should be the final consideration. Get the first two right, fit and durability and then make the aesthetic work around that. After all what is the point of having pretty socks that don’t fit or worse don’t fit and have holes in the toes and heels?

When choosing yarns think about the following pointers:

Colour: dark colours mask textures and cables, favour lighter colours if you want your cables to pop or your textured stitch to shine.

Variegation: highly variegated yarns overpower patterns, cables and lace designs. Opt for something a little more subtle if you want the pattern to take centre stage. If it is the bold yarn you love, think about a slipped stitch pattern to feature the colours in the yarn.

Texture, halo and sparkles: textured yarns can detract for some patterns but a subtly tweedy yarn would be wonderful some cables, just make sure you choose a colour that allows the cables to pop. Yarns with a halo (alpaca and Exmoor blueface) can mask subtle details so make sure your pattern can be seen through the fluff. The subtle sparkle of stellina can add a touch a pizazz to your socks.

Pooling: some people love it, other loathe it. If you are trying to break it up try knitting from either side of the ball. Better still find a pattern that shows off the pooling and works with the design.

Self patterning and self stripe: perfect for making simple socks exciting. Remember the heel you choose will have an impact on the stripes.

In summary there are so many choices out there, the world really is your oyster when it come to choosing sock yarn.

Finally, don’t forget to experiment and try things out. After all you can always rip the knitting out and use the yarn for something else or change your pattern if you find your first choice is not right for you.

Join me later this week for my top picks for sock yarn. I will be looking at commercially available yarn and hand dyed specialities. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Happy Knitting.

Clare x

For the Love of Socks …

It is the final week of Socktober and to celebrate I am having a flash sale lasting for the rest of the week. Why? because I love socks, and I hope you do too. Details at the end of the post.

Sock Anatomy_baby socks_sock blockers

The five things I love about socks … 

1) They can be incredibly simple yet breathtakingly effective (think Vanilla socks with some fabulous self stripe) or complex enough to virtually warp you mind (think Cookie A).

2) Sock yarn. Need I say more? The vast array of stunning hand dyed yarn is enough of a reason to love socks for the rest of time.

3) They are portable. You can’t lug that huge jumper project about with you, but you can easily pop a sock in your bag (or pocket).

4) They really pack a punch when it comes to techniques, you can get a lot of new techniques into a sock if you want to. I love being able to practice things on a small scale. Think cables, lace, textures, twists. The knitting world really is your oyster when it comes to  knitting socks.

5) Nothing beats hand knit socks for cosy toes in the winter! Nothing at all.

Do you love socks? What is your favourite thing about hand knitted socks? I would love to hear from you.

Have you read this and thought you would love to get into hand knit socks but are not sure where to start? Jo from the Shinybees podcast and I are starting a sock segment aimed at answering all your sock questions. Tune into the latest episode of the podcast for more details.

Each episode we will be able to give you hints and tips on getting the best out of your sock knitting exploits. There will be tutorials, step by step instructions and lots of support to get you started with socks.

The Sock Surgery with Clare Devine on the Shinybees Podcast

Copyright Ryan McGuire. Used with permission

Copyright Ryan McGuire. Used with permission

Flash sale – super discounts all week. 

How it works: I will be posting a discount code every day until Friday. It will only be valid for 36 hours so you will need to be quick. The code will be for a specific sock pattern to celebrate the end of October. Posts will be in a different place each day so follow me on all my media streams and join the Ravelry group to be in with the best chance of collecting all the codes.

Instagramhttp://instagram.com/clare.devine

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/_ClareDevine

Ravelryhttp://www.ravelry.com/groups/yarn-and-pointy-sticks-designs

Hope you have a wonderful week. Happy Knitting.

Clare

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