Have you seen these?

Hey Rachel!

I'm sure you must have seen these, but just in case...

Orla Bobbie shoes, designed by Oral Kiely for Clarks. £120. Click on image to go to Clarks website.

Orla Bobbie shoes, designed by Oral Kiely for Clarks. £120. Click on image to go to Clarks website.

Gorgeous shoes! Designed by Orla Kiely for Clarks - and not all high heels! This is my favourite pair, and it comes in patent coral pink, and pale blue as well as the navy above.

I wish I could wear either of these as well, but me and heels don't really go well together - it always ends in a sprain...

Enabling alert... You can click on the images to go straight to the Clarks website...

How fantastic would any of these look with hand-knitted socks? Hurrah for pretty shoes to showcase amazing socks!

Speak soon, Jen x

Why I love green, and particularly green socks!

Rachel, I think I might have a bit of a problem...

I noticed a while ago that I seem to always knit in the same colour yarns... Green, green-blue, forest green, grass green, teal-y green, but always some sort of variation on that theme!

Above is a rogues gallery of just some the green socks I've knitted in the past 5 years! If you click on an image it will take you to my Ravelry project page, where you will find all the yarn information as well as pattern links that you may need! Not that I'm enabling you in pattern or stash acquisition here... Ahem!

I'm not sure that I can adequately explain my attraction to this end of the spectrum, but I can promise that it's not going to stop any time soon... You only have to look at my stashed yarn to see that!

Happy knitting! x

Otis & Phyllis Knitalong - March & April 2015

Oh, how I love a Knitalong (KAL)! Casting on the same pattern as a group of other knitters, and sharing pictures and advice as you go. It gives a real sense of camaraderie! Over on the Ravelry thread, you'll see that knitters are sharing pictures of the yarns they are planning to use, as well as a few "in progress" photos already (some of these knitters are QUICK!).

So this is how it works...
You choose your yarn and cast on either Otis (left) or Phyllis (right), both of which are from Rachel's new book, CoopKnits Socks Volume 2. Then you need to head over to the CoopKnits Ravelry group (have you joined yet? You really should!) and share a picture to tell us what you're up to in the Otis & Phyllis KAL thread.

Once you've done that, you will already be entered for one of the spot prizes of a free Rachel Coopey sock pattern download (you will be able to select from the single sock patterns in Rachel's Ravelry Store)! Rachel will be giving away a few pattern prizes as we go through March and April. You simply need to cast on and post a picture to the the KAL thread! You don't even need to finish your socks to win a pattern prize (great for us slower knitters...)

Keep knitting, and do chat along with the other KAL-ers! And then, once you've finished your pair of socks, post another picture to the KAL thread. Then you will be entered for one of the wonderful yarn prizes...

These gorgeous skeins are up for grabs for knitters who finish their Otis or Phyllis socks before the end of April 2015. West Yorkshire Spinners, Three Irish Girls and The Knitting Goddess! What beauties!

Happy knitting!

Have you seen this?

Rachel... Rachel... Rachel... (in the style of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory...)

Have you seen this?

Click on the photo above to go to the Charley Harper Studio online shop, but don't blame me if bankruptcy results...!

Click on the photo above to go to the Charley Harper Studio online shop, but don't blame me if bankruptcy results...!

I think it might just tick every box for things we both like! Birds! Colouring in! Charley Harper! What more could you want? There are all sorts of his colouring-in books available, but I particularly like this one as it comes in a tin (gotta love a tin!), with cards, envelopes and crayons.

I know how much you enjoyed the Benedict Cumberbatch colouring-in book that I sent you, so I hope this makes you smile too. :)

Happy colouring!
Jen x

Leftovers

Here are all the little balls of leftover yarn from the single colour socks in Coop Knits Socks Vol 2. I'm going to try to use them all up, every last little bit and I'm formulating a plan to do this.

1. A pair of Mixalot socks. For my size each sock will use 14 colours (3 for cuff, heel and toe, 6 on the leg and 5 on the foot) and there are 14 colours, so thats serendipitous (I'm awarding myself bonus points for using my favourite word in context). The balls with larger amounts will be used for the cuffs/heels/toes because they use more yardage than the stripes.  

2. A pair of Otis socks. This will be one of the first patterns we kick off the official knit-a-long with. I need to decide on a main colour that will work with all these colours, I think maybe dark grey or possibly navy blue. 

3. I want to make a small crochet square with as many of the yarns as I can, it probably won't be possible with all of them. I'm going to try to make a square from the yarn of every pair of socks I make and eventually join them in to a huge blanket. 

4. Anything that is left after the first 3 projects will become a pair of stripy Dave socks, I'll keep making Daves until I run out of yarn, maybe there will be 2, possibly there will be 3, we'll have to wait and see!

Fast work knitters!

Hey Rachel!

Have you seen how quickly folks have been knitting up the patterns from your new book? I'm astounded by the speed with which these delights are appearing in the Ravelry thread for Coop Knits Socks Volume 2. If you haven't already, do pop by and have a look!

First up is this beautiful Delbert:

Delbert knitted by StatenIslandSusan - click the photo to see her Ravelry project page.

Delbert knitted by StatenIslandSusan - click the photo to see her Ravelry project page.

It was knitted by StatenIslandSusan using Spun Right Round Superwash Sock in this fab orangy-brown shade. I just love how the cables twizzle themselves down the leg!

The cabled socks are always really popular, aren't they? Here's a fabulous pair of Eulas from WhiskeyKnits. She's used some popping-pink Plucky Feet to make these, and weren't they finished quickly?! It took her just one week to make the pair.

WhiskeyKnits made these fabulous Eula socks - click through to see her Ravelry page.

WhiskeyKnits made these fabulous Eula socks - click through to see her Ravelry page.

WhiskeyKnits is planning to make all of the socks in Volume 2 from Plucky Feet - I can't wait to see how she gets on, if these are anything to go by!

Finally, I was completely inspired by the incredible pair of Otis socks:

KnittyWench's stunning Otis socks - click on the photo to see her Ravelry page.

KnittyWench's stunning Otis socks - click on the photo to see her Ravelry page.

They were knitted by KnittyWench, using a selection of YarnYard Toddy skeins. The colours are beautiful, and I know I've said it before, but I really AM going to do some colour work socks this year. I know that you have a pattern up your sleeve, and I have the yarn ready and waiting, so let's get to it!!

Happy knitting!
Jen x

If you haven't already bought your copy of CoopKnits Socks Volume 2, then I hope that these have inspired you to order, you can get a print copy from Rachel's website (£18.00 + P&P), or an eBook from Ravelry (£17.00).

SPRING SUMMER ’15 KNITWEAR ROUND UP: THE BIG SIX

Holly Coopey is Cosmopolitan UK Fashion Coordinator, she is also my little sister (I did drop her on her head once when she was a baby). I like to knit things for her head as you can see below.

hollycoopey

 As London Fashion Week comes to a close I asked her what Spring Summer 2015 knitwear trends we might see as the weather warms up:

I'm being super positive about this the weather this year. So when you think of your wardrobe for the warmer months, the thought of thick, chunky jumpers and socks, no matter how much we love them, is not the one. But have no fear, for the new knits are fine, lightweight, cool, and add a clever twist and update to the usual standard summer trends; florals, we’re looking at you. These six designer labels are the key players in the knitwear game this season...

PFW: Céline The no fuss, utilitarian vibe at Céline is a fash-pack favourite, and hey look! It’s a knitted dress.  Proving that fringing doesn’t always mean Cowboys & Indians at Glastonbury, the drop hem, slim and minimal cut oozes modernity. The boxy blouse layered over another fringed skirt takes this modernity up a notch – not something that is easily replicated, but easy to be inspired by. Think mixing your knits with silks and stiff cotton, or even leather separates.

PFW: Céline

The no fuss, utilitarian vibe at Céline is a fash-pack favourite, and hey look! It’s a knitted dress.  Proving that fringing doesn’t always mean Cowboys & Indians at Glastonbury, the drop hem, slim and minimal cut oozes modernity. The boxy blouse layered over another fringed skirt takes this modernity up a notch – not something that is easily replicated, but easy to be inspired by. Think mixing your knits with silks and stiff cotton, or even leather separates.

LFW: Giles One of London Fashion Week’s key players and general British fashion legend, Giles Deacon took inspiration from artist Walton Ford’s wildlife paintings for this quirky collection. The claws, the fuzzy snakes and the patchwork prints made this a real highlight of a show, especially with the huge sassy jumpers.  Proving that novelty knits aren’t just for Christmas, will you all start stitching on applique animal motifs asap please? Faux fur features only though!

LFW: Giles

One of London Fashion Week’s key players and general British fashion legend, Giles Deacon took inspiration from artist Walton Ford’s wildlife paintings for this quirky collection. The claws, the fuzzy snakes and the patchwork prints made this a real highlight of a show, especially with the huge sassy jumpers.  Proving that novelty knits aren’t just for Christmas, will you all start stitching on applique animal motifs asap please? Faux fur features only though!

PFW: Stella McCartney Leading the eco-luxury fashion frontier, Stella McCartney is more socially and environmentally responsible than the majority of designer houses – especially when it comes to wool. This collection is comfy cool thanks to easy breezy shapes and fabrics, and the ribbed sweater dresses seem oversized but ooze sex appeal by following the line of the body. A long sweeping shape might not seem summer appropriate, but think about it over the top of a swimsuit in the evening on holibobs, wth a mojito in your hand.

PFW: Stella McCartney

Leading the eco-luxury fashion frontier, Stella McCartney is more socially and environmentally responsible than the majority of designer houses – especially when it comes to wool. This collection is comfy cool thanks to easy breezy shapes and fabrics, and the ribbed sweater dresses seem oversized but ooze sex appeal by following the line of the body. A long sweeping shape might not seem summer appropriate, but think about it over the top of a swimsuit in the evening on holibobs, wth a mojito in your hand.

MFW: Miu Miu Quirky and kitsch, the Miu Miu collection is the epitome of Granny chic - Italian Grannies. A heady mix of plaids, leather, florals and frills, this is a texture party and a half. With heavy wool coats and panelled ribbed knit tops, you could almost say that Ms Prada added these wooly touches especially for British summer time.  

MFW: Miu Miu

Quirky and kitsch, the Miu Miu collection is the epitome of Granny chic - Italian Grannies. A heady mix of plaids, leather, florals and frills, this is a texture party and a half. With heavy wool coats and panelled ribbed knit tops, you could almost say that Ms Prada added these wooly touches especially for British summer time.  

MFW: Bottega Veneta With a colour palette of pale greys, pastels and a twist of monochrome, the Bottega collection was inspired by dance and the bodily form. The fine ballerina-esque wrap around tops and chunky cardi’s thrown over simple jersey seperates, along with the prim and proper belted cardigans over eveningwear scream classical elegance.

MFW: Bottega Veneta

With a colour palette of pale greys, pastels and a twist of monochrome, the Bottega collection was inspired by dance and the bodily form. The fine ballerina-esque wrap around tops and chunky cardi’s thrown over simple jersey seperates, along with the prim and proper belted cardigans over eveningwear scream classical elegance.

LFW: Joseph Joseph, which might not be a global megabrand, has a cult following and a seriously cool aesthetic of its own, despite the stores stocking other mainline designer labels. There was so much love for the loopy grungy knits in this beautiful ‘less is more’ collection, along with for the huge Arran jumper tie-waist dress - the ultimate Sunday outfit, just swap the flatform sandals and sport socks for Coopknits socks. With such a plethora of fabrics and textures, from denim to leather and organza, the knits could almost be forgotten – but the sheer attitude of the designs mean the statement knit is a key player in this collection.

LFW: Joseph

Joseph, which might not be a global megabrand, has a cult following and a seriously cool aesthetic of its own, despite the stores stocking other mainline designer labels. There was so much love for the loopy grungy knits in this beautiful ‘less is more’ collection, along with for the huge Arran jumper tie-waist dress - the ultimate Sunday outfit, just swap the flatform sandals and sport socks for Coopknits socks. With such a plethora of fabrics and textures, from denim to leather and organza, the knits could almost be forgotten – but the sheer attitude of the designs mean the statement knit is a key player in this collection.

So there you have it yarn lovers, will you be taking knit-spiration from any of these designers?

Raindrops on Roses - February Favourites

'I simply remember my favourite things and then I don't feel so baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad'

Here are a few of the things making me happy this month:

I've been reading these detective mysteries by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) and I'm really enjoying them. I love a good mystery, I grew up on Agatha Christie and Dick Francis and I think these are Christie-esque with clever solutions and little red herrings thrown in.

The new issue of Pom Pom arrived on my doorstep and it's a beauty as always. There is a great article by Anna Maltz - who is one of my favourites every month and always. The cardigan on the cover is Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay and it is an elegant cardigan with a beautiful deployment of nupps. I also love Lus by Mer Stevens, the little details on the sleeves are perfect. All the patterns in this issue are beautiful and it also features the second illustrated story (or comic strip) by Katie Green (the first appearing in the last issue). I really love this addition to the magazine and I hope there are more to come in future issues.

I have an extra copy of Pom Pom so leave a comment on this post with one of your current favourite things to be entered in to the draw to win it! 

I'll be at the first show of 2015 (and one of my favourites) this weekend (20-22 February) - Unravel at Farnham Maltings.  I'll have copies of my new book and all my other books, I'll also have some lovely sock yarn from The Knitting Goddess. If you are visiting, come and say hello!

One of my all-time-favourite yarns Titus, made by the lovely folk at Baa Ram Ewe, has 3 new colours added to the already beauteous palette. A lovely heather purple, a versatile dark blue and a fantastic grey. I love a good grey and this is most definitely a good grey! I've been working on some new patterns using these yarns so you'll be seeing those soon!

Bjork's new album and the TV series Fortitude are intensifying my already intense desire to visit Iceland. (Fortitude is set in Svalbard but filmed in Iceland). I have a husband who is all but allergic to the cold weather so I suspect my adventure there may be alone.

I'll be back with more of my favourite things next month!

New Book: Coop Knits Socks Volume 2

You may well have seen me announce my new book somewhere else,  but if not here it is in all it's shiny new glory: 

There are 12 brand new patterns in this book and it includes tutorials for kitchener stitch, afterthought heels and a long tail cast on.

The patterns are all sized for both men and women and I roped in my husband to do some modelling so some of the patterns are shown on a man. Lots of the male knitters I have met are sock knitters and lots of people knit socks as gifts for men. 

The patterns all have both charts and written versions of those charts so whichever way you prefer to work, I've got you covered.

You can buy the print book here - every print book comes with a code which allows you to download the digital version for free.

If you would like just a digital version, that is available on Ravelry here.

I will be hosting Knit-a-longs in my Ravelry group for all the patterns in the book, the first one will start on 1st March, there will be prizes and support for anyone who is a bit unsure, come and join in!

Intentions 2015

Happy New Year!

 

I much prefer thinking of some things I intend to do in the coming year rather than making Resolutions. It's probably because I have, in the past, come up with great long lists of things and then failed miserably to actual do any of them. I have also tried to make much more reasonable lists of resolutions and still not achieved them. 

I'm probably fooling myself that changing the word will charge the outcome but I will give it a go anyway. My intentions are two-fold:

 

Number One: I intend to learn how to crochet. 

crochet

I have attempted this a few times but I've never been able to get the hang of it. One of the problems I've had is trying, as a left hander, to learn from a right hander. I need to find some left handed crochet resources.

I hope to crochet a blanket with my mini-skein collection and this beautiful shawl/wrap from the latest Pom Pom Quarterly:

Trienne by Rachel Atkinson from Pom Pom Quarterly - photo belongs to Juju Vail.

Trienne by Rachel Atkinson from Pom Pom Quarterly - photo belongs to Juju Vail.

Number Two: I intend to visit a different museum, art gallery or exhibition every month in 2015.

sketchbook

I do visit places already but what I want to do is go places and sketch, I got this concertina sketch book from Cass Art and I would like to fill it. This probably means I will be going alone (or with people who don't mind being left alone for a few hours). I've got a few places on my list; Modern Art Oxford for the William Morris & Andy Warhol exhibition, The Botanical Gardens in Birmingham and old favourites like the V & A and The Natural History museum. If anyone has any suggestions (now or throughout the year), please tweet them at me (@coopknits) 


What are your plans for 2015? 

New Patterns: The Knit Generation

Hi Rachel!

I got my mitts on a copy of The Knit Generation this week. What a lovely collection of patterns! And how cool to have your Tulloch hat and mittens on the cover, eh?! Felted Tweed is one of my all-time favourite yarns, and that gorgeous fair isle patterning is stunning. Nice work m'dear!

The collection is curated by one of my favourite knitting colleagues, Sarah Hatton, and she has brought together 8 designers for this pretty collection of accessories. Many of them are people that I know through Twitter and Ravelry, so I was already aware of their work, but Ivar Asplund and Sara Thornett were new to me. I do love to discover new-to-me designers!

Your Kimber hat will undoubtedly be the first design to find itself on my needles. I just can't get enough hat action at the moment! The cables and crown shaping are all eminently pleasing. And it uses a yarn that I've been meaning to revisit for some time - Rowan Pure Wool 4ply. Lovely stuff!

There are some great offerings from the other designers too. I am extremely drawn to Andi Satterlund's Yew cowl (left). The texture is amazing and since it's knitted in Big Wool, it would be a super-fast knit too. Hmmm. Rachel Atkinson's Acorn wrap (centre) is stunning too. What a lovely combination of lace and 3D texture from the bobbles. It makes me want to reach out and fondle it! Finally, I'm still considering a few last-minute gifts for my family, and Gemma Atkinson's Bud caplet/shoulder-warmer would be such a great quick-knit, that I'm sorely tempted.

What a great collection of patterns! Well done team Knit Generation!

Do you have a time-turner? It seems the only explanation for the incredible quality and quantity of patterns that you've designed this year!  I hope you get a little bit of time for pleasure knitting over Christmas.

Love, Jen xx

All images © Quail Publishing 2014

Have you seen?

Hi Rachel!

Just a flying visit today… But I went to see Paddington at the weekend, and it was AMAZING. Not only is a great film, but Mrs Brown wears the most fantastic selection of knitwear...

Mrs Brown's jumpers ©Paddington & Co Ltd

This yellow jumper made me think of you in particular… along with the lovely YELLOW HAT that Sally Hawkins wears later on.

And Mrs Brown's hats © Paddington & Co Ltd

This is obviously a terrible picture of said hat, so you'll just have to go and see the film to get a better look at it.

Have fun! And if we don't chat again, have a very lovely Christmas.

Jen xxx

Knitting for Presents part 2 - Hands and Necks

Hiya Rachel!

I hope things are going well with you. I feel that we are into the end game. The shortest day is nearly on us, and Christmas is just a few carols away. Fear not! I bring you glad tidings of knitting joy. There is still time to whip up a little something to show how much you care. I can't think of a better reason for knitting a gift. If the recipient is knit-worthy, they will understand the love that gets knitted into the stitches of a project. I've got a hat on my needles for the teacher of my youngest - a more knit-worthy recipient you could not wish to meet.

Tupelo cowls from Twist Collective Winter 2014 Image © Crissy Jarvis

I simply adore your latest pattern for Twist Collective! I spotted it when @KnitOTD tweeted it yesterday (have you followed them yet? They have amazing taste in patterns!) and it's been stuck in my head ever since. Luckily if you fancy it for a quick pre-Christmas knit, there's a short version as well as this stunning wrap-around one. Tupelo is knitted in Indigodragonfly Mergoat Sock - a merino cashmere nylon 4ply yarn, the like of which many of us have to hand. Ahem.

Carthorpe mittens from Coop Knits Toasty volume 1 Image © Coop Knits

Your cute little Carthorpe fingerless mittens would be a super-quick knit if you're desperate to whip up a gift and really short on time. Even I could manage a pair of these before the turkey leftovers are finished for another year, and my knitting time is currently extremely scarce! You can buy the single pattern through Ravelry for £3.50, or treat yourself to the whole Toasty eBook or print + eBook for £12.

I've had my eye on the Lerryn mittens from The Scrumptious Collection volume 3 for some time. The Fyberspates Scrumptious DK that they are knitted in is true to its name, and if you've not seen it in cables, then really take a look. I love how the cables look like fishes swimming up your sleeve. There are a few other lovely designs by you in that collection, aren't there? You can buy the eBook through Ravelry for £12 or a print copy (also £12) from your local Fyberspates retailer.

Last on my suggestions list is one of your early patterns - sadly too easily overlooked now that it's on the last page of your many patterns on Ravelry! But I shall happily highlight it here: The Rosaleen Shawl (there's also a Rosaleen Cowl if you fancy a quicker knit). I have just the yarn for this and it's all queued up and ready for me to cast on as a quick gift to myself, once I've finished all my chores. This is another DK pattern, which when you're more used to knitting with 4ply, really works up in a flash. The shape is perfect, and I've seen you wearing yours so often that I know it is the perfect shape for keeping your neck snug in this bitter weather we seem to be having of late.

I hope you have a lovely Christmas with your family, and I look forward to catching up in the New Year.

Bye for now, Jen x

Vital statistics:
Tupelo from Twist Collective Winter 2014 $6 or approx £3.93
Carthorpe fingerless mittens from Coop Knits Toasty volume 1 eBook single pattern is £3.50 or the eBook costs £12 for 10 patterns
Lerryn Mittens from The Scrumptious Collection volume 3 eBook costs £12 for 13 patterns
Rosaleen Shawl from the Winter One eBook £3 for single pattern or £8 for the 7 pattern eBook

Knitting for Presents, or How Not to Go Crackers at this Time of Year!

Hi Rachel!

We are well and truly into the Christmas season, aren't we? The kids have gone from saying that Christmas is ages away, to taking every opportunity to point out all the preparations everyone else is making… "Mum, when's our tree going to arrive? Mum, when will Father Christmas come? Mum, is it Christmas Day yet?"

It is very tempting at this time of year to suddenly embark upon a frenzy of knitting presents for EVERYONE! This way lies madness… Don't ask me how I know! Instead, the secret is to pick one or two small accessories for the most knit-worthy people in your life, and try not to worry too much if they aren't finished for the 25th.

With this plan in mind, I thought I would round up a few of my favourites among your patterns, just in case anyone else is struck with a last-minute desire to wrap a loved one in wool… First up are a few hats. No-one can ever have too many hats! I'm convinced of this (don't try to talk me out of it…)

Dessa from Twist Collective Image © Jane Heller

Dessa is a beautiful hat (and cowl set), knitted in Fibre Company Savannah DK (which Ravelry lists as a sport weight yarn). The patterning isn't too challenging, so I reckon even my tired knitting brain would manage to knock one of these out in a few evenings in front of the TV. I love how the rib grows into the patterning on the body of the hat!

Adela beret from eBook Winter One Image © Rachel Coopey

You can buy the pattern for the Adela beret as a single pattern for £3, or treat yourself to the whole Winter One ebook (with a number of other excellent gift knits!), for just £8. It's knitted using 160-223m of The Knitting Goddess's DK silk and merino wool, which makes it great for a single 100g hank of DK that you might just have to hand...

Grania from Twist Collective Image © Linus Ouellet

If you have a little more time on your hands between now and THEN, what about one of Rachel's glorious 4ply hats? There is a lovely selection of colour work and cabley hats in Coop Knits Toasty volume 1 (if you've been looking for an excuse to buy, then now's your chance!). These are all knitted using Baa Ram Ewe's bouncy Titus 4ply. Or what about Grania (shown above) from the Fall 2014 Twist Collective? This is a hat and mittens set, and I adore the zingy colour work and massive pompom.

I hope that those hats have given you some present knitting inspiration (you could also cast on for one for yourself you know?!). I will be back next week with some ideas for mittens and neckwear to keep you snug as a bug and not too crackers.

Take care, Jen x

Vital links:
Dessa - hat and cowl set from Twist Collective Winter 2013 $6 or approx £3.93
Adela Beret from Winter One eBook single pattern costs £3 or Winter One eBook for £8
Grania - hat and mittens set from Twist Collective Fall 2014 $6 or approx £3.93
Coop Knits Toasty Volume 1 eBook £12 or print & eBook £12 + P&P

New Patterns: Enchanted Knits

New patterns to drool over - my favourite! If you haven't already got a copy of Enchanted Knits, then head over to Interweave Press. You can choose between the print copy for $14.99 + P&P, or the digital edition for $14.99 delivered immediately.

Woodcutter's Socks by Rachel Coopey from Enchanted Knits. Image © Interweave Press.

Woodcutter's Socks by Rachel Coopey from Enchanted Knits. Image © Interweave Press.

What a lovely selection of patterns! I barely need to tell you that I love your Woodcutter's Socks (perfect for Jim for Christmas!) and the punchy colours of your Hansel and Gretel Socks are fantastic as well. I must try some colour work socks soon. I really must!

Hansel & Gretel Socks by Rachel Coopey from Enchanted Knits. Image © Interweave Press.

Hansel & Gretel Socks by Rachel Coopey from Enchanted Knits. Image © Interweave Press.

As well as my enduring love of sock patterns, I have a bit of a craving to knit a snuggly warm wrap with some pretty texture. There are a few patterns in this magazine that catch my eye. I fancy knitting the Colubrida Wrap by Angela Hahn, which has intricate cables along the edge, and a soothing garter stitch centre. It's knitted in an aran weight yarn as well, which is very appealing at the moment!

Colubrida Wrap by Angela Hahn from Enchanted Knits. Image © Interweave Press.

Colubrida Wrap by Angela Hahn from Enchanted Knits. Image © Interweave Press.

I also love the Among the Birches Shawl by Kate Larson. It's knitted in Malabrigo Lace (the first lace weight I ever used!) and has one of those lovely leaf patterns that has a rhythm of its own.

Among the Birches Shawl by Kate Larson from Enchanted Knits. Image © Interweave Press

Among the Birches Shawl by Kate Larson from Enchanted Knits. Image © Interweave Press

Oh my! I've looked more closely at the pattern for that one, and it's reversible! That's a touch that I love in a neckwear garment. No worrying about which way out it should be! Are you familiar with Angela Hahn or Kate Larson? They were both new designers to me, and Angela Hahn has some gorgeous patterns...

If you'd like to get your hands on Rachel's lovely sock patterns or any of the other designs in Enchanted Knits, then head over to the Interweave website, or check out your local yarn shop.

New pattern: Oleum

Hiya Rachel,

I see you've got a new(ish) pattern out! A lovely pair of socks made from the delicious Baa Ram Ewe Titus. Oleum look like the perfect pair for loafing around the house now that it's starting to be a bit chilly outside.

Oleum by Rachel Coopey, knitted using Titus from Baa Ram Ewe. Image © Baa Ram Ewe

Oleum by Rachel Coopey, knitted using Titus from Baa Ram Ewe. Image © Baa Ram Ewe

I could do with some comfort knitting - a bit of interest but nothing too taxing on the grey cells. The simple rib with a lovely lace pattern at the ankle looks like just the ticket! Back to school has been hectic here. I'm just starting to have a bit of time back for myself, and I'm itching to get knitting properly. How's it been for you? 

I sadly failed to get my Betula's finished for Summer of Socks, but they aren't far off, and once I've finished the secret project I'm working on, they will be first back on my needles.

I can't wait to see what you're working on at the moment.

Jen xx

Oleum is available to purchase for £3.00 from Ravelry here.

The lace pattern is provided in charted and written form. Two sizes are provided - size small fits foot circumference 18-20cm and size large fits foot circumference 23-25.5 cm.

You will need one hank of Titus, 2.5mm dpns (or your preferred needles for knitting small circumferences in the round), and stitch markers.

Magic or engineering? The alchemy of socks (Guest post by Mrs M)

This is a great blog post about knitting socks and Mrs M very kindly gave me permission to post it here. All photos and words belong to Mrs M.

Mr M has been watching my latest knitting project with more interest than usual. He is always fascinated by the four double pointed needles I use to knit socks, which strike him as a cross between ancient torture implements and some type of divination tool. As the socks I’m currently working on involve a cable pattern, I’m using a fifth needle, which thoroughly intrigues him.

All joking aside, Mr M is genuinely fascinated to see a sock take form, just as I am. No matter how often I knit them, I never stop marvelling at how it’s possible to transform one-dimensional yarn into a complicated three-dimensional object, without cutting the yarn or seaming various pieces together. And to think that for many years I put off knitting socks.

I didn’t start until about four years ago. I was wary of the tiny needles (typically a 2 or 2.5 mm set), the fine yarn (usually a 4-ply/fingering), instructions that look as if they’re from a book of spells, but most of all the fear that it was too difficult. Although I had years of knitting under my belt, knitting socks seemed like magic that was beyond all but the most advanced knitter. How wrong was I!

Finally, sick of shop bought socks that were neither warm nor durable, I turned my hand to making some and discovered that knitting socks actually is magic. Not in the sense of witchcraft but rather in terms of alchemy. The process taps into my childlike curiosity. It stirs my desire to understand what I see around me even if I lack the jargon to describe the concepts or the formulae to articulate the mathematical or scientific principles. When you stop to think about it, turning the heel of a sock (i.e. the process that takes you from the leg section into the foot) is pure engineering, akin to tunnelling around a corner. Without understanding the mathematics, you watch the stitches combine to achieve all kinds of complex trigonometry. And binding off in Kitchener stitch to close the sock at the tip of the toes is to wool what brazing is to copper: a way of seamlessly bonding two planes of material.

So if you fancy warm toes and want socks that will last (and even when they wear thin are actually worth darning), don’t procrastinate as long as I did! And to help you along, here are some tips and suggestions to bear in mind when you decide to tackle your first pair.

  • Pick a simple pattern to start with. Ones that are ribbed as far as the ankle and then stocking stitch/stockinette for the remainder are ideal. There are plenty of free patterns on Ravelry, including very simple ones.
  • Although the needles look complicated, remember that you only use two at any one time, as with any other knitting project. You can use a set of double pointed needles (DPNs) or two circular needles. There’s also a technique using one long circular needle, known as the magic loop technique, which some people love and others avoid like the plague.
  • Short ladies’ socks typically require about 350 to 400 metres of 4-ply yarn. Remember that socks are hardwearing so don’t go for anything too delicate. And if you want to use up various skeins of 4-ply left over from other projects, go ahead! It is only convention that dictates that socks should match and by knitting your own, you’re already flouting conventions!
  • Follow the pattern to the letter. At times you may wonder at it and be convinced that it contains errors or is missing something but stick with it. These sections usually tee up the point where the alchemy begins.
  • If you’re unsure about any techniques, check on YouTube for advice. There is a fair chance that somebody has asked the same question and another knitter has obligingly posted a demonstration.

Most of all, just give it a go and have fun with it, and before long you too may be participating in a most constructive little act of rebellion!

*I used the Collinwood sock pattern by Rachel Coopey for these socks. I picked the wrong yarn as the self-striping wool does not show off the lovely design particularly well, but I love the pattern and will be using it again. It is a bit involved so not really suitable for a novice. However, Rachel’s patterns are very precise and easy to follow so I would definitely recommend looking out for her designs if you’re bitten by the sock knitting bug.

Summer of Socks Eye Candy

Wow! It sounds like you had a brilliant time at both Unwind and Fibre East. What treats!

I'm knitting along on my Betula socks, but I have to admit that they aren't growing that fast. There's just been so much going on for the last few weeks that knitting time has been a scarce commodity. Anyway, I thought I would while away a bit of quiet time seeing what everyone else has been up to in the Summer of Socks thread. What a feast of inspiring patterns! Have you been looking at them?

I love how seeing a pattern in different yarns can show you a whole new side to a design. Take these two pairs of Pavilion socks, for example...

CelticCastOn's Pavilion Socks knitted in Wandering Cat Yarns Alley Cat BFL.

These Pavilion Socks knitted by CelticCastOn look cool, calm and inviting.

HotCheese's Pavilions are in my favourite go-to shade of green and give the design a more zingy feel.

And then HotCheese has used this amazing shade of green for her Pavilion socks, which makes them look completely different!

I can almost feel myself falling down a rabbit hole of yarn enablement as a browse the projects! Rachel, we'd best neither of us look at that Plucky Knitter Plucky Feet in Lounge Lizard that HotCheese has used! Stunning!

There are some great finished socks from your books as well. Having modelled Saxifrage in Coop Knits Socks, I loved seeing this beautiful pair by WriterGirl3.

Gloriously raspberry Saxifrage socks from WriterGirl3.

And from A Knitted Sock Society, I'm inspired by Nina90's Jesse socks...

Jesse from A Knitted Sock Society, knitted by Nina90 using Rowan Fine Art Sock and Colinette Jitterbug.

I've never knitted any colourwork socks, and these are stunning. They've persuaded me to give it a go! I don't know why, but I've always been a bit scared of colourwork socks. Something to do with getting the right tension I think. Do you have any top tips?

These Fred and George socks knitted by mma are brilliant too… Too many choices!!

Mma knitted these Fred and George socks using String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn Bluestocking. They look ace!

I'm always on the lookout for great patterns for variegated yarns. I tend to play it safe and just knit plain socks if my yarn is a bit loud, but these Solar Flair socks knitted by Roobeedoo look fantastic in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock. The textured stitch pattern works brilliantly with the zingy yarn. 

Roobeedoo's Solar Flair Socks.

Last year's Knitting Goddess sock club patterns had a Kevin Bacon theme, and JillRLambert finished off her Watzisname socks a few weeks ago, thus enabling her to enter them for Summer of Socks. I absolutely love your twisted stitch patterns - you have such a great eye for them!

JillRLambert's Watzisname socks knitted with Knitted Goddess 4ply Merino Nylon Sock yarn

And last, but by no means least, John Huston, the Tarnished Hero has leapt up my queue thanks to this lovely pair knitted by NicoleS

I've had my eye on these for ages. They'd be a great pair to make for Jim for Christmas, and I have the perfect yarn in my stash… I'd better get knitting! I hope you're having a good summer, filled with lots of lovely socks.

Jen x

P.S. All photos are copyright of the knitters featured and are used with their kind permission. Thank you!

Days Out and Shiny New Things

If you are following my old blogger blog now is the time to change over to this one, I have discovered Bloglovin which seems to be a handy way to keep track of blogs I'm interested in and the link above is to follow this blog with that service. 

It's been a busy few weeks with Unwind Brighton starting things off with a bang. It was an amazing weekend full of fibre, friends and FUN. When I arrived on Friday it was raining but that soon cleared up and we had a glorious sunny weekend at the seaside. I have some amazing food, the highlight of this was the pudding below (Caitlin Meringue from Terra Terra). Because I was teaching on Sunday, I brought my husband along to man the stand while I was away, he did a fine job (with a bit of help from some lovely friends) and he already talking about getting a t-shirt printed for next time!

A couple of weeks after that was Fibre East, I love this show for it's relaxed and friendly vibe, the sheep shearing display is always a favourite and the weather for the last few years has been nothing short of tropical! On my way there on Friday I stopped at Toft to congratulate Kerry on the publication of Edwards Menagerie (yet again I find myself wishing I could crochet!). At the end of the first day of the show I found this guava flavoured cider in a pub that is nothing short of delicious, so refreshing on a hot day! I came home from Fibre East with an exciting bag of sock yarn for Sock Book 2 which is well underway and this lovely knit stitch print tea towel from the beautiful Tilly Flop.

Phew! It's been so nice to see so many people and it's not quite over yet - I'll be at The Pop Up Wool Show on the 16th August, if you're coming, see you there!