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!

Consoling myself...

La la, la la, laaaaa!

I have my fingers in my ears, as there's so much chatter about how brilliant Unwind was, and I'm still sulking that I couldn't go. Boo! I'm grudgingly glad to see from Twitter that you had a great time though.

Instead I've been consoling myself by planning lots more knitting projects to take away on holiday next month. I finished off my Italia World Cup socks - thank you so much for the lovely yarn! My brother-in-law will be the lucky recipient. And I'm now just over halfway down the leg of my first Betula sock.

Betula Socks for the Summer of Socks 2014

I'm hoping that I can get these finished before the end of August, as a Summer of Socks pair (not that I'd enter for a prize, but it's nice to take part!). I'm definitely not giving these away. They are going to be mine, all mine! One of my friends has knitted this pattern a few times now, and every time it's on her needles, I remember how much I want to knit a pair. Finally I'm catching up with my never-ending queue!

I'm sure that one pair of socks isn't enough knitting for a week in Weymouth, so I've been perusing your other new patterns… This Summer of Socks thing has filled my head with crazy ideas about how many pairs I could complete over the next 6 weeks. I'm certainly deluding myself, but isn't that part of the fun of knitting? The anticipation of the endless possibilities contained within your stash? P.S. Have you seen that there are cool prizes up for grabs? Sock yarn and patterns! Just post your finished photo in the Summer of Socks 2014 Finished thread.

Your latest eBook, Pretty Feet Four has me in a tizzy of what to cast on first… All 3 designs are just so tempting!

Anis and Danae both use a skein of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply, and Ianthe uses a skein of Knitting Goddess 4ply Merino Nylon Sock, and I'm pretty sure I have some of each squirrelled away around here somewhere… Which makes it even harder to decide where to start! If you click on the image above, you should be able to see all three designs (I'm still working out how this Gallery thing works…).

If anyone else fancies joining me in a mad dash to see if I can get two (or maybe even three???) pairs of socks knitted in the next 6 weeks, do leave me a comment! I'm averaging 2-3 weeks for plain socks, but 4-6 weeks for patterned designs at the moment, so it's a bit of a push, but I challenge worth striving for, I'd say! If you want to buy Pretty Feet Four (and why wouldn't you?), you can download it from Ravelry for £7.00 (Ravelry will give you a rough conversion to your local currency if you've given your location in your profile). The three earlier Pretty Feet collections are also well worth a look - the Betula socks I have on my needles at the moment are from Pretty Feet One.

While I was over on your design page on Ravelry I noticed that you have a couple of designs in the next Twist Collective… Eeep! How exciting! I can't wait to see what they will be like. Argh, for a bit more quiet knitting time. :)

On which note, I'm off to knit on Betula for a bit.

Go on then, do tell me a bit about Unwind.. But try not to make me too jealous!

Mwah! Jen x

Woolfest

Hello!

I will forgive you for not knowing about the Summer of Socks but now you know and I'm sure you have a sock-in-progress or 2 you could finish off before August, the great thing about knitting socks is they are awesomely portable, you can stuff them in your bag and set of to the park or the beach... (which reminds me, the beach is where I will be this weekend for Unwind Brighton, I know you can't come (BOO) but anyone else coming should come and say hello!)

The last few and next few weeks are somewhat busy(!), a week or so ago I got back from my first trip to Woolfest in Cockermouth and WOW is that a beautiful place! Even the last 50 or so miles on the motorway were pretty and it's not often you can say that!

It was a great show, lots of lovely people stopped to have a chat, the most dogs (well behaved, handsome and on leads) I've ever seen at a show and of course SHEEP (some of the sheep made noises that sounded very human indeed, reminiscent of the classic 'goats that shout like people' of youtube fame). 

I picked up a few things, some rather exciting sock blanks which I will show you at a late date, some lovely Eden Cottage yarn and this magnificent Fenella from Susan Crawford for a design idea, Susan took a photo of these colours together a few weeks ago and I haven't stopped thinking about them ever since.

Right, I've got workshop notes to print and suitcases to pack, speak soon! x x 

Summer of Socks 2014

Hi Rachel!

How on EARTH did I not know about the Coop Knit Summer of Socks?? I've knitted 2 pairs of your patterned socks this year, as well as a plain pair of Blue Tit socks that you totally enabled, and yet I had totally missed this!

For those of you who were in the dark too, here's the low-down:

Summer of Socks

All you need to do is finish a pair of socks to one of Rachel's designs (you can see them all here: Rachel Coopey's sock patterns) between now and 31st August 2014. It can be a pair that are already on your needles. They just need to be finished between now and then.

There will be prizes and new patterns (new patterns - eep! Not more temptation!). And the Summer of Socks kicked off with the Pavilion Mystery Sock KAL. All 3 clues of the MKAL have now been released, but there's still plenty of summer to catch up.

As if that wasn't enough fun...

If you are going anywhere lovely during the Summer of Socks, and take a funny/beautiful/picturesque/extreme photo of your Coop Knits WIP, apparently there will be prizes for the best and a draw for everyone who enters. I wish I was going somewhere more exciting than Weymouth now… Maybe I can get the kids to work on an extreme sock knitting photo for me?

I hope now that I'm going to be over here talking to you on your blog, you will keep me up to date with all these exciting events. I'm still shaking my head about how I missed this. As soon as my Italia socks (#WorldCupSocks) are done then I'm going to nail those Conina's.

Catch you later tater!

Jen x