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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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

#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

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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

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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

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My Top 10 “Neck Knits” #giftalong2014

In keeping with my #giftalong2014 theme I have selected some of my favourite “neck knits”. Ravelry is bursting with amazing cowls, shawls and scarves. Here are my top ten from the discounted patterns in this years Indy giftalong.

I love cables and this unusual cable style is not something I have seen around much. Shannon Cook pairs the sophisticated cable with some stunning grey yarn. Lansbury, the perfect cowl is born.

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I used to knit more shawls than socks, even though I now find myself working on socks more than shawls I still have a soft spot for a good shawl pattern.

Someday by Hanna Maciejewska uses two skeins of fingering weight. Sideways, garter stitch and the contrasting border. This looks like it would be a great knit, easy but not boring and the finished shape is simply stunning.

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Hrim by Bristol Ivy is one of my favourite shawl patterns of the moment. I love the shape, the combination of the yarn weights and textures. I am planning on knitting one of these shawls for myself. I need to choose the yarn from my stash but I am hoping to use some silk from Dye for Yarn, I just need to decide what to mix it with. The other shawls in the Frost Fair collection are also on my “to knit” list. If you had not already gathered Bristol Ivy can do no wrong in my knitting world at the moment.

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I am not always a bit beaded shawl fan. I like simple clean lines and unfussy details. The Sunburst Shawl by Helen Stewart ticks all these boxes. The shape is beautiful, a wide crescent shaped shawl is very practical and flattering at the same time. Helen has added the perfect amount of sparkle here with beaded accents that give glitz and glamour without being over the top. The yarn she has chosen is also amazing, that subtle grey in a base I know well by Kettle Yarn Co. Shawl perfection!

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Chunky shawls are not the norm and I think chunky lace is often difficult to get right. Elizabeth Felgate has nailed it here though. Three balls of fabulous New Lanark Chunky and you have a warm and cosy wrap for the winter. It is just what I need to keep me warm sitting at my desk this winter. The chunky yarn would also make a fabulously quick gift knit. 

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Garter stitch, stripes and unusual constructions. These two designs by Laura Aylor are quirky and fun. I love the concepts and squishy garter stitch always warms my heart.

Tuck wraps around your neck and ties at the back, meaning you can control the width easily and it will never mess up your hair.

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Hot Tea. Two layers of garter stitch! There is nothing more to add here. Two layers of garter stitch! (I had to repeat it because it makes me so excited). Squishy, stretchy and warm. Keep it plain and simple or go wild with stripes. Perfect for using up leftovers.

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Staying on the theme of textured stitches creating stunning cowls. I stumbled across this one by Galzanne Knits and instantly fell in love. The combination of slipped stitch rib and brioche stitch in Simply A Cowl work so well together.

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Another smorgasbord of texture in a cowl is Global Nomad, another fantastic knit by Helen Stewart. I won’t lie the grey and yellow drew me in, this is my favourite colour combination at the moment. The mixtures of textures and eyelets is a delight to the eye. Each panel works with the other while standing out on it’s own. I also love that is is worked in two colours, so many opportunities to play with colour combinations. Helen did a great podcast about Colour Theory recently, I found it really interesting.  

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Last, but certainly not least. A brilliant shawl by the very talented Jennifer Dassau. Rondelay has been on my knitting needles twice. I made one for my mother in law and then had to make another for myself. Rondelay is worked using short rows and comes from a series of short row shawl that are utterly brilliant. I highly recommend a look at Jennifer’s patterns.

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Don’t forget I also have a number of patterns in the #giftalong sale. You can find my 19 discounted patterns here. 

Brunswick is not only perfect for summer weather. It would also make a fabulous addition to your festive season party outfit. I am working on a heavier weight version of this pattern to be released in the coming weeks. If you buy the 4ply version now you will automatically get the heavier weight version when it is released.

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Happy knitting,

Clare

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The Ravelry GAL2014

It is that time of year again, the days are shortening, the cold is creeping in and the festive season is slowing marching towards us. I will hold my hands up and admit to not being a big gift knitter. I do love knitting though, and a big knit-a-long is a great place to make new friends and discover amazing news designs.

This year the IndieGAL2014 (#giftalong2014) caught my eye and I really wanted to be involved. It has been brilliantly organised and while it is a great place for me to find new fans of my designs it is also a wonderful community of knitters coming together to share their passion for the craft. I have been so excited watching it all unfold.

GAL14_logo-800

What is the IndieGAL? 

A group of designers, 293 to be exact, have joined together to host the biggest KAL of the year. Each designer has selected a number of patterns to be eligible for a 25% discount and all their paid for patterns are eligible for entries into the KAL prize draw if you decide to take part.

When is it? 

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2014 will run from Thursday, November 13 at 8pm (US-EST) through Wednesday, December 31 at midnight (US-EST)

The sale period for the GAL promotion will be Thursday, November 13th 8pm (US-EST) through Friday, November 21 at 11:59 pm (US-EST)

Who is taking part? 

Pop over to this forum thread on Ravelry for details of all the designers taking part

Want to join in with the knit-a-long?

Join the Indie GAL-2014 group on Ravelry, click her to find out more. 

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the planning process and want some help on getting your holiday knitting sorted. Helen Stewart from Curious Handmade recently released a brilliant Free Holiday Gift Knitting Planner. It is really fun and beautifully presented. If you have not already listened to Helen’s podcast I highly recommend it. It always brightens my weekend.

There are lots of my patterns included in the GAL event. Click here to see the bundle containing all patterns that will be discounted during the sale event. 

Giftalong_square

In the spirit of enabling and because I love finding amazing patterns to share with you I will be doing a couple of pattern round ups in the next week or so to inspire your gift knitting, or just inspire your knitting!

Hope you have a wonderful day.

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

Flash Sale: Day 4

At the start of this month I released the warm and snuggly Elgin socks. They were the final installment of the Head to Toe series and are the perfect addition to your winter wardrobe. Perfect for keeping your toes warm and toast as you snuggle on the couch under a warm blanket.

Elgin sock_blog_sale-01

It is gloomy and grey in Edinburgh today, and so I thought it would be fitting to feature the Elgin socks as my Socktober discount for today. Use the code “Socktober5” to get 50% off Elgin (£3 to £1.50) until midnight on the 31st of October. 

Most sizes can be knitted with 100g of aran weight wool and the pattern is sized from newborn to adult L, so all the family can have warm toes this winter.

Jess from Ginger Twist Studio and I can’t get enough of this pattern and have knitted three pairs between us already. Two pairs in Ginger’s Hand Dyed Humming Aran (a luxurious Alpaca / Merino / Nylon blend) and one adult pair in Brigantia Luxury Aran (a wonderful British wool). I also have another pair on the needles for my toddler in Drops Nepal (wool / Alpaca blend).

What will you knit your Elgin socks in?

Here are some pictures of Elgin to inspire you.

Elgin shown in Humming Aran, Earnest

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Elgin shown in Humming Aran, Bonny Scotland 

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Elgin shown in Brigantia Luxury Aran, Dark Turquoise

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