Free UK Shipping on Books for Limited Period

Good morning.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend. I am looking forward to wrapping up the year and snuggling into some knitting in a few weeks over the holiday period. It has been a fantastic year but my batteries need a little recharge. I hope any preparations you are making for the holiday period are going well.

I have a special offer for the next three days. I will be offering free standard UK shipping on Head to Toe and Sock Anatomy when bought from my shop. I only have limited stock so grab one early if you are keen to get your hands on a copy of my book.

Any books bought from me between 15th and 17th December will be posted using first class recorded mail with the UK.

Sock_Anatomy_cover_shot_medium

Sock Anatomy is a collection of nine sock patterns each featuring a different heel technique. This is the perfect resource for learning to knit socks. The book comes with a download code for the ebook. You will also get the adult sizes for these socks as they are released. Two are already available and the rest are coming in early 2015.

Check out all the designs on my Ravelry page. 

The book retails for £15 and you get a complimentary ebook. 

/Users/ClareDevine/Documents/Knitting/Design and editing work/De

Head to Toe is a collection of five stunning accessories using Ginger’s Hand Dyed yarn. Each item has been carefully designed to celebrate Jess’ vintage inspired style. The collection transports you on a journey from high summer in Edinburgh, with Montrose and Brunswick to the colder days of winter, with warm snuggly Elgin socks.

Want to see the designs and some other knitter’s projects. Check out the Ravelry pages. 

The book retails for £12 and you get a complimentary ebook. 

If you want a copy of the book but would prefer just the digital version this can be bought through my Ravelry store. 

Hope you have a wonderful week.

Happy Knitting.

Clare

x

Advertisements

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.

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

 

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

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

Louise Tilbrook giveaway winners

Hope you are all having a great weekend. We went on a long bike ride yesterday and I attending my first toddler party (I was scared but there was cake so I survived).

Today I will be teaching one of my favourite classes, the joy of “Magic Loop”. I love this knitting technique and use it all the time for socks, hats, mitts, sleeves, anything in the round – I magic loop it.

Before I head off to teach I wanted to drop past and let you know who the winners were for the Louise Tilbrook giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered my first proper giveaway on the blog. It was very exciting to host and congratulations to the three lucky winners.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Julia – Stumpy01 on Rav

Emma – Emma1969 on Rav

Carol – Wishcatchers on Rav

I have given your details to Louise who will be in touch with you about your prize.

Have a great Sunday – chat again tomorrow.

Cx

“Socktober” draws to a close …

It is the 1st of November. I can’t actually believe the year is nearly over. Where has the time gone. October was great fun, filled with socks and new exciting ventures. I was honoured to be the “Designer of the Month” at Ginger Twist Studio. It was always fabulous to see my socks hanging proudly in the window.

Sock Anatomy_baby socks_sock blockers

To wrap up Socktober I have a few announcements and links to share with you.

Want to know a little bit more about me? Grab a cuppa and pop over to the Ginger Twist Studio blog for my interview with Jess. 

Don’t forget to tune into the Shinybees podcast for information about my new sock segment. We will be launching the series in the next week or so, keep an eye on the blog for details. She also has a fabulous competition running where you can win a copy of my book, some gorgeous Ginger’s Hand Dyed yarn and a pair of beautifully hand crafted sock blockers.

Finally to end the week long Socktober sale I will be offering a 30% discount on the Sock Anatomy book this weekend. For £6.30 you will get the full ebook containing lots of information about sock heels and nine patterns (each with a different heel). There are also two bonus adult sock patterns (Tarsi-Grande and Brevis-Grande).

Enter the code “Socktober6” to get 30% off the usual price of £9, valid until midnight (GMT) 2 November. 

Sock_Anatomy_cover_shot_medium

Finally, I will be drawing the prize winners for the Louise Tilbrook giveaway tonight and will announce the winners on the blog tomorrow.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Happy Knitting.

C

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elgin shown in Humming Aran, Bonny Scotland 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elgin shown in Brigantia Luxury Aran, Dark Turquoise

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Caught My Eye: Emlyn

Celebrating the end of “Socktober” with a special “Caught My Eye”. I love these socks and they really make me want to improve my colourwork. Knitted from the top down these socks are perfect for using up scraps of yarn for the colourwork section.

© Rachel Coopey used with permission

© Rachel Coopey used with permission

In true Rachel Coopey style there are some beautiful details in these socks like the details at the base of the cuff. A contrast cuff, toe and heel add fun colourblock details and can be matched to your colourwork, or contrasted to make a bold statement.

As with all colourwork socks you can go bold, with bright and contrasting colours or choose lighter, paler or more neutral shades.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Available as a single download for £3 or as an ebook called Pretty Feet One, featuring 4 socks for £7.

I hope you have enjoyed “Socktober”, keep an eye out for the remaining sale discount codes for the rest of this week.

Happy knitting,

Clare

x

 

Flash Sale: Day 3

Hope you are having a good week.

Today is a double bonanza on the sock sale front the first sock is Jozi – named after and designed using inspiration from my home town, Johannesburg. 

Jozi_sale

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next up is Corrugate – this has been a firm favourite amongst knitters this month, so I thought I would give you the chance to nab a copy of the pattern at half price. 

Corrugate socks_sale

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Happy Knitting folks.

C

x