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

x

Meet the Designer #giftalong 2014

Hi everyone,

Hope you are having a fabulous December so far. I am trying to wrap things up so we can hunker down and spend some time together as a family next week and the week after. Before I do that though I have some last minute bits I want to knit for folk who mean a great deal to me. Given that these need to be finished pretty soon I need to plan strategically. I need quick and fabulous knits, chunky yarn seems the answer. Luck would have it that Monika who is the fabulous designer in my “meet the designer” feature today has some gorgeous quick knits. If you are planning some last minute gift knitting I urge you to have a look at her stunning designs.

Here are my three favourite quick knits from her pattern selection.

Pogonip uses under 100m of super bulky so it will be lightening fast to make. It features some lovely textural details and a fabulous pom pom. If you have been following me lately you will know I am pom pom obsessed. 

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It also comes in an ebook with a matching cowl that is perfect for those who like their accessories to come in a set.

The Nollie hat is another bulky knit that would be a perfect quick knit. I love that this hat is super slouchy. After pom poms slouch is my thing when it comes to hats.

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I love these mittens. I have a little one who loves mittens and these would be perfect for her. You could embellish them in so many different ways too. Have a look at all the great projects created by Ravelers. Kveta comes in a wide range of sizes from toddler to large adult. You can also get a matching hat pattern which is possibly one of the cutest hats I have seen in a long while.

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Monika also has a fabulous range of patterns that might not be suitable for knitting on a christmas deadline but they certainly are worth getting on the needles. Two of my favourites are Caramel Frappe, a gorgeous crescent shaped shawl and Saku Hana, intricate and detailed fingerless mitts. The attention to detail in this design is outstanding.

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Last month I caught up with Monika and we chatted a bit about her knitting and designing. I hope you enjoy the interview. There is a lovely giveaway too – details can be found at the end of this post.

CD: Where do you find your design inspiration?

MS: I find my inspiration almost everywhere! It can be a new skein of yarn, a color, a little dress in a magazine, a tiny piece of fabric, a button, a kids’ coloring book, a piece of ribbon, a painting, a photo (not knitting related), new design I am currently working on …. However, most of the time, new ideas pop in my head when there is peace and quiet around me, no tv, no radio, no kids running around. Letting the thoughts flow bring my inspiration new life.

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

MS: I rarely find a yarn I don’t like, 100% merino is my basic I use all the time. But most of the time I go through stages! Maybe everything with silk content seems amazing, and the next time tweed is The One, another time alpaca (yes, alpaca is ‘it’ these days) but mohair always finds a way back to me in one form or another. It would be equally difficult to choose only one weight of yarn as well, I love the look of chunky fabric – even better if it is worked in a lacy stitch! I love the look of delicate lace weight fabric, and I love to use sport weight as a great compromise for year-round wear (especially for kids’ knits).

CD: What is your favourite knitting technique?

MS: Each time I find a new technique, I ask myself how I lived without it for so long! I love Kitchener, German Twisted CO, mattress st, embroidery embellishments, sewn stretchy BO, adding beads, picking up sts. You name it, I would love to try them all!

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

MS: My life became easier after I bought Addi needles, a ball winder, some rust proof pins and blocking matts 🙂

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

MS: There is no single answer to this question! Once my kids entered the school system, my designs reflected the need for quick gifts. Choosing the right gift always depends on the person for whom it is intended and from avaliable knitting time. I designed Cabernet Infinity Scarves as teacher gifts for a few reasons. When you want a quick, but need the gift to make an impact (more than just a plain stockinette or garter cowl), Cabernet does the trick! Lente was meant to be a las- minute gift – you can actually CO a few hours before you need to leave your house. I consider Caramel Frappe to be a gift-to-go this season, as it is a shawlette with a lacy border. No one would anticipate how easygoing it is to knit, how quickly it knits up, and how perfect it is for any special person in your life who deserves more than just a cowl. If you need a gift for young people, Saku Hana Mitts are the way to go! And a great gift for a child? Choose a bright, colorful yarn and pair it with Kveta Mitts or Mittens pattern. You will love the recipient’s reaction when she/he opens the package. And speaking of gifts, there is a new one in testing right now. It is a baby blanket suitable for any special occasion, and uses less than  3 skeins of worsted weight yarn! How great is that?

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

MS: Definitely a project bag! Can you believe I still don’t have one?

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

MS: Line up your projects! If you know what are you going to CO and what yarn you are going to use before you finish your current projects, you will be surprised how fast the gifts fly off your needles.

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

MS: I sure will! There are quite a few special people who deserve a toasty, wooly surprise this year!

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?

MS: Ohh, that would be my dream come true! I would pack yarn for at least 5 sweater projects for myself, just to make sure I wouldn’t run out of the yarn or projects! Sweater projects are always pushed back in my lineups (smaller and quicker projects are to blame for the constant distraction). I would bring my bright green Cascade Eco + for Aidez, blue Madelinetosh Sport for Grandpa Cardigan by Joji, Colour Adventures Merino Light for Casual Lace by Justyna, Rock Candy Mountains colorway for Harvest by Tincanknits, and one of my current WIPs, a new pullover design.

Giveaway

Monika has kindly donated two patterns to giveaway. There will be one pattern each for two lucky blog readers. All you need to do is comment on this post with your favourite design from Monika’s Ravelry store. Pop along and have a look at all her gorgeous designs, then let me know which one is your favourite. The giveaway will close on 31st December and I will announce the winners at the start of January 2015.

You can find Monika in the following places:

Instagram as monikasirnadesigns

 

New Toasty Knits Out This Week

Hello there,

Goodness it is cold out there folks. This southern hemisphere gal does not know what to do with herself it is so cold (for me anyway, I know it is much colder for others at this time). I hope December is going well for you, and you have lots of toasty knits to keep you warm. This week my aim is to wear as much knitwear as possible, usually all at once.

It has been a busy few weeks around here and I wanted to share some amazing and exciting projects I have been working on. First up these warm and toasty mitts are out in Knit Now this week. Crumpet are lightening fast to knit up from a single skein of chunky yarn. Perfect for warming your hands during this cold snap.

Copyright Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing. Used with permission.

Copyright Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing. Used with permission.

Next up an exciting client project I have been working was released yesterday. I am immensely proud to have been involved with this project. Eden Cottage Yarns has just released their first collection. The Bletchley Collection comprises of six fabulous designs in Victoria’s stunning Milburn 4ply, by Joanne Scrace. The BlueFaced Leicester and Silk blend is amazing to work with and the colours work so well with the vintage inspired designs.

I worked on the layout of the patterns and designed the book layout. It was a great project to work on and a fantastic team of people to work with. I think I might cast on a Baudot hat when a get a moment spare over the next few weeks. I love the inspiration behind the design. Pop over the Victoria’s | Eden Cottage Yarn blog to find out more about this brilliant collection. 

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Also – don’t forget that Jess from Ginger Twist Studio and I will be in Glasgow at The Queen of Purls this Saturday. Zoe has organised a great fundraising event and Jess will have all her amazing hand dyed yarn available to squish (and buy). The samples from Head to Toe will also be available for you to try on and I will have books and patterns for sale too. Hope to see you there.

Lastly for today Rachel at Tangled Yarn sent me some brilliant Asymmetrical Needles to try knitting some socks with.

Kinki Amibari Asymmetric Circular Needle. Photo copyright Tangled Yarn, used with permission.

Kinki Amibari Asymmetric Circular Needle. Photo copyright Tangled Yarn, used with permission.

I will be road testing these over the holiday break and will update you about my thoughts in the new year. If you want to know more about choosing knitting needles for sock knitting listen to my latest segment on the Shinybees podcast. 

I have some more news coming later this week, including a round-up of next years workshops and another design (this time to warm your toes over the holidays).

Have a fantastic day.

Happy Knitting.

Clare

Celebrating One Year of The Golden Skein

A year ago I signed up for a very special yarn club. The Golden Skein is the brainchild of my close friend and fabulous podcaster Jo from Shinybees. She worked closely with her business partner Kate (of Kate’s Twirl) to develop an outstanding yarn club. The intention is to introduce you to new-to-you dyers from all corners of the glob. Each quarter a shiny gold package arrives on your doorstep contain three skeins dyed to an inspiration picture. The year of yarn has been outstanding and I feel very privileged to be part of their first birthday celebrations.

Jo asked me if I want to design a shawl to celebrate one year of The Golden Skein and presented me with a stunning skein of Eden Cottage Yarn. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with such an amazing yarn. The brief was elegant, simple, striking beauty with beads. The result is …

Kunye (Zulu; meaning one)

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Kunye oozes elegance and simplicity. The top down, crescent shape construction results in a wide shallow shawl. Perfect for draping over your shoulders, adding a touch of style to your party outfit or wrapping around your neck for a more casual everyday option.  Because every day should be a Golden Skein day.

This is the perfect shawl for that special skein you have in your stash. It needs 400m and would suit many different fibre contents. Silk would be fantastic and allow the shawl to drape beautifully around your shoulders, as would the bamboo / merino blends around. The beads add weight to the border meaning you could also use more springy yarns such as Blue-Faced Leicester and Merino.

There is a knit-along planned in The Golden Skein group on Ravelry, starting on the 20th December and running well into 2015. This is a lovely friendly group so please do pop along and say hi if you want to join in.

Have a wonderful week.

Happy knitting,

Clare

x

Quadratic KAL

Hi,

Hope you had a good weekend wherever you are in the world. Mine was busy and filled with a visit from a very good friend. It was brilliant to catch up and nice to take a break away from the laptop.

Today is the 1st of December. I can’t quite believe it myself but indeed it is true. Even though I am still pretty stretched with work knitting and deadlines I want to be kind to myself and knit something relaxing over the next few weeks. I have chosen to take part in the Quadratic KAL being held in the Eden Cottage Yarns group. I work closely with both Victoria and Jo and thought it would be a great way to relax and chat to knitty folk.

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Quadratic by David O’Kelly is simply brilliant. You may recall me professing my love for this pattern a little while ago when it first came out. A large garter triangle with perfectly placed stripes. Easy to knit and the ideal project for using up some much loved yarn where I only have a little bit left from a skein. I had previously cast on for this in 4ply (the suggested weight) however for a number of reasons I decided against continuing with that yarn. For this KAL I am opting for a DK version, it is going to get cold soon enough and I will need a warm cosy shawl for the long days at my desk (my office has no radiator so can be a little chilly).

I chose some fabulous Whitfell DK, the new 100% alpaca mill dyed range from Eden Cottage Yarns and went stash diving for my contrast stripes. I have a delicate silvery grey called Dove from Ginger’s Hand Dyed, some bold green, Almost Spring, and fluorescent yellow, Highlighter, from Rainbow Heirloom and then some stunning bright blue Navia and some hot pink from West Yorkshire Spinners. It is going to be an 80’s inspired neon shawl, and it’s going to be epic.

Quadratic

 

Fancy joining in? I would love to chat to some of you over in the Eden Cottage Yarns group.  You can find the KAL here. 

Want to get your hands on a copy of the pattern, pop over to Ravelry by clicking here. 

Have a wonderful week.

Clare x

 

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

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

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.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Chrysanthemum Frutescens

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Vanessa Antiopa

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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. 

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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Hope you have a wonderful day.

Happy knitting,

Clare

x