Have you seen these: card games for knitters

Rachel, you asked yesterday for recommendations for board games for you and your boys. This is a game you'd probably enjoy, just not one maybe to break out after Sunday lunch with your family since the themes are very adult in nature. 

Scary hand reflection available separately

Scary hand reflection available separately

It's an expansion for the pre-existing game Cards Against Humanity, where as far as I can see, the aim is to complete an innocuous phrase with the most outrageous statement you have in your hand.

These are from the tamer end of the spectrum

These are from the tamer end of the spectrum

Knitters Against Swatches was thought up by Sarah and Robyn, who run ReBelle, a yarn store in Lexington, Kentucky. They are offering the chance to win a free deck of cards to those who post funny combinations to Instagram or Twitter using #horribleknitters before the end of March.

With Edinburgh Yarn Festival next week, I'm sure you'll see these cards around.


Socks Yeah! but not just for socks

Socks Yeah! has been available for a few months now and there are loads of brilliantly executed socks out there. I'll share some of the best at some point soon. What has interested me recently though, is what else the yarn has been used for. A little digging through Ravelry and Instagram threw up some really impressive projects.

Super Eyelet Fine by Fiona Wright; Photo:  The Woolly Brew

Super Eyelet Fine by Fiona Wright; Photo: The Woolly Brew

This Super Eyelet Fine shawl has been designed by Fiona Wright, a partner in The Woolly Brew yarn shop in Pitenweem. It is available as a free download from Ravelry now, and should knit up fairly quickly so you have something new to keep you warm during cool spring evenings.

This shawl, made by Aiko in Rachel's favourite shade, features a textured section that will look good at the back or the front of your neck, depending on how you wear it. All proceeds from the sale of this pattern go to a scholarship fund at the Australian National University in memory of the designer's brother.

Northallerton Hat  by Rachel Coopey; Photo:  Carol (UnfadingSpring)

Northallerton Hat by Rachel Coopey; Photo: Carol (UnfadingSpring)

This Northallerton hat, made by Carol, from Coop Knits Toasty Volume 1 shows that Socks Yeah! looks good in stranded colourwork, as well as in lace patterns. I could certainly do with wearing it to protect my head from the piercingly cold wind that I've been out in this week.

If crochet's more your thing than knitting, be sure to have a look at Crochet Yeah!, a book of crocheted accessories in Socks Yeah! from The Crochet Project. More on that soon! 

Tips and techniques: Colourwork without the worry

I had planned to put out tips and techniques posts in a logical order. This probably isn't going to happen as I'm not that organised and also because I'm better at writing on a subject that is in my head at that time.

There are vast numbers of colourwork sock designs around, such as Rachel's Alfrick pattern.

I always wondered how you would keep track everything if the floats were hidden in the centre of the tube. The answer of course is that you don't have to. 

Quite simply, you work the sock inside out. It's easier to ensure that the floats don't pull too tight if you can see them, after all. For me, working a tube inside out hasn't ever been a problem as I picked up magic loop a bit wrong. In fact, if someone demanded that I knit the right way out, I'd really struggle. 

There are a couple of ways to flip around your work. The simplest is to work the edging as you normally would and turn the work inside out when you came to the colourwork chart. Or you can do what I do and work magic loop with the cable between me and the tube from the start.  

If you're eagle eyed, you'll have picked up that this isn't a sock, but a sleeve. That doesn't really matter since the idea is the same. What you will notice though is that there are places where I had to carry the yarn across the back of 5 stitches. With everything on show, I can ensure that the floats don't pull too tight, puckering the fabric.

I don't profess to being a colourwork expert and I'm sure there are many people out there with a wealth of expertise, so if you have any tips of your own, please do share.

If colourwork isn't your thing, but you do like cables, there's a KAL for the Sidney and Eugene patterns on the CoopKnits Ravelry group.

Tips and techniques: Reducing the mending burden

I am hard on my socks.

I don't think I particularly mistreat them in any way, but beyond simple wear, I seem to have a habit of snapping the cast-on edge when taking them off or putting them on. To a degree, this is probably something I should expect: I have the dainty ankles of a runner, and the feet of a 6ft tall man, so for socks to stay up, there is literally a tension between keeping the stitch count down at the ankle, but up around the heel. Snapping and swearing are an inevitable consequence.

Having a loving and patient wife who is happy(ish) to mend my socks for me, I possess a few pairs of colourfully repaired socks. 

The big question is though, how do I prevent breaking the socks in the first place while keeping the cast-on stretchy? I think I have one possible answer. In future, when casting on for socks for me, the yarn needs to be held doubled. This should drastically reduce the likelihood of the dread sound of snapping, my contributions to the swear box and the pile of mending.

Have you got another idea to solve this problem?

Wilbert and Orville KAL round-up

The last KAL of 2015 was two patterns from Coop Knits Socks Volume 2: Orville and Wilbert. What you can see from the pictures of the finished socks is how much the yarn used changes the look of the same pattern. 

These pairs of Orvilles were made by, from top to bottom, cvd-aviatrix, MissFrances and writergirl3. You can see how the middle pair were knit with a far less fluffy yarn than the other two, giving a much sharper stitch definition. It could be the differing light conditions in which the photos were taken except.....

These Wilberts, made by, from top to bottom, mandyscragg, writergirl3, have far less variation.

I guess that's one of the fascinating things about knitting: that you're never going to know exactly how things will turn out until you've made a good start.

The randomly selected winners from the KAL are MissFrances, mandyscragg and writergirl3, and yarn winners are agita and cvd-aviatrix. There are other KALs running currently in the CoopKnits Ravelry group. Have a look and join in!

Socks from everywhere: Yellow

Way back in the distant past I was a postgraduate research student. I moved into a house with friends and was horrified to discover, a few days later, that my supervisor's girlfriend was my new next-door neighbour. The adjoining walls weren't all that thick, so I was regularly treated to the fruits of his, hitherto unknown, knowledge of hilarious (to him at least) jokes. The thing is, I never heard the body of the joke, only ever the roared punchline followed by gales of self-congratulatory laughter. Early one Sunday morning I was treated to a cry of, "......... and it was yellow! Ha ha ha!" Ever since, I have not been a fan of the colour. 

It turns out though that the rest of the world seems to disagree with me. So here's a selection of yellow socks: cabled, colourwork, lace and fun patterns.

Pattern: Linesx3 by Jeannie Cartmel; Photo: LizzieLace

Pattern: Linesx3 by Jeannie Cartmel; Photo: LizzieLace

These, made by LizzieLace, caught my eye because of the changes of direction. With the spiralling band, I bet they're snug fitting too.

Pattern: Fibonacci by Stephanie van der Linden; Photo McFrazzled

Pattern: Fibonacci by Stephanie van der Linden; Photo McFrazzled

These, made by McFrazzled, may have made my eyes go a little funny if I looked at then too long, but I do love the overall effect and the fact that the soles are completely different. This picture, with the strong line dividing the motifs, would be a good one to use if trying to explain how socks are constructed to a beginner knitter. 

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A; Photo: Heikku

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A; Photo: Heikku

These look great in the photo and this design was one of the first that Jen knitted. I think it's a great example of a simple idea, well executed to make something special. Heikku made this pair and after last week's post, I wonder what's on her sock blockers.

Pattern: No. 2 Pencil Socks by The Yarn Enabler; Photo: TrishKnits

Pattern: No. 2 Pencil Socks by The Yarn Enabler; Photo: TrishKnits

When I saw how this photo was composed by TrishKnits, I had to smile. It took me back to the couple of years I spent in the US as a kid, always in need of a No. 2 pencil for day to day work, but particularly for tests. I may never make a pair, but I am glad that the design exists.

If you think I've missed out a stunning pair of yellow socks, please do leave a comment.

Have You Seen This: Colouring Book for Knitters

Adult colouring books seem to be everywhere this year. They have been around for longer than you might think. A long time ago in a career far, far away, Jen had a botany colouring book while she was doing horticultural training. And I know that there are practising doctors out there who got through their anatomy courses with the aid of a colouring book.

The range of subjects has multiplied, with things like Moose Allain's Advent Calendars becoming an annual staple.

In the language of the season, "And lo, in the fortnight before Christmas Ann and Kay did publish a colouring book for knitters. Jen did see the book and squeal with excitement and did instantly order two for delivery before the final posting date. And verily, Jim rolled his eyes."

Time to break out the pencils!

Time to break out the pencils!

If you haven't come across Mason-Dixon Knitting, Kay and Ann have been corresponding on their blog for well over a decade. Set aside a good hour and wade into their take on life, the universe and knitting.

Get hold of your copy from Amazon (make sure you go to Amazon UK if you're in the UK). Then you, like me, will truly have seen it all.

Don't forget that you will get a free Coop Knits pattern when you buy two skeins of Socks Yeah! 

Too Many Choices?

It's officially autumn and aside from repelling a soaking wet cat, who is determined that the best place to dry off is my lap, my major concern while working is how to stay warm. The simple answer is of course to put on more layers and this means knitwear. The problem I have is that my wardrobe is slightly light in that department since it is largely made up with suits from my days bellowing at teenagers. Furthermore, my favourite jumper has recently disintegrated from wear. 

The unravelling neckband is the least of my worries with this jumper

The unravelling neckband is the least of my worries with this jumper

So here's the big question: What should my priority be to stay warm in the office? Do I cast on for a new jumper, bearing in mind that I already have two unfinished baby cardigans sitting in project bags? Do I return to socks (look back a few posts to see my first effort)? Do I cast on Woolly Wormhead's MKAL hat for this year that I've been donated on the understanding that it is good for me? Or is there something else I should make?

Please help!



Decca and Delbert KAL Round-up

The first autumn KAL came to a close a little over a week ago. The two patterns were Decca and Delbert from Coop Knits Socks Volume 2. Here's a selection of the finished socks posted to the Ravelry thread.

First are the Delberts. From left to right, the projects of agita, Rubywool and pookiebb.

Then the Deccas of aiko1122, writergirl3 and gillianrp.

As ever with knitalongs, there is a random prize draw, with two yarn prizes and three pattern download prizes.

Using a random number generator, the randomly selected yarn winners are MissFrances and jillrlambert, and the pattern winners are mandyscragg, aiko1122 and writergirl3. Congratulations to you all!

The next sock KAL has started already (Wilbert and Orville) and you can post your progress on the Ravelry thread.  Happy sock knitting!


SUMMER of Socks 2015!

Where does the time fly to? I can't believe that it's the SUMMER of Socks again already! I'm nearly ready to cast on a new pair. I just have a mystery shawl pattern to complete first...

If you haven't taken part before, just dive in! It's really easy, all you need to do is to finish knitting a pair of socks designed by Rachel at some point between now and 31st August 2015. Post a photo of the finished socks in the thread on Ravelry: SUMMER of Socks 2015 and you will be entered for prizes! You can complete a WIP that's been on the needles for a while, or start a new pair, the choice is yours!

We are only a few weeks in to this year's knit along, and already there are some lovely finished pairs. How about these for some pattern inspiration?

Hautecontre (aka Diane) knitted this beautiful pair of Sapient Pearwood socks using some wool, cotton, nylon blend sock yarn - perfect for summer!  You can favourite any of the pairs of socks here by heading over to the relevant Ravelry project pages: Hautecontre's Sapient Pearwood socks.

For a more recent design, how about these lovely Woodcutter's Socks? Knitted here by Debbie135 using some Knitting Goddess sock yarn. Check out how quickly Debbie knitted these up! Debbie135's Woodcutter's Socks.

Deb (Tinkhickman on Ravelry) hasn't finished her socks yet, but her photo was so beautiful I couldn't resist sharing it here! She's working on Renesmee from Rachel's Twighlight-inspired eBook, When Vampires Knit Socks and she's using some Hazel Knits yarn in a gorgeous shade! We can't wait to see how they turn out! Tinkhickman's Renesmee Socks.

This is such a fantastic shade of blue from the Sunrise Fiber Co. that Writergirl3 (aka Gail) has chosen for her Ernestine Socks. Ernestine is one of the patterns from Rachel's latest book of fab sock designs, Coop Knits Socks volume 2. Gail knitted them two at a time, and again, she was SO speedy: Writergirl3's Ernestine Socks

These are Octarine, one of the patterns that Rachel designed for the When Granny Weatherwax Knits Socks Club, first published back in January 2012. This pair has been knitted by crossroadsdemon, and you can find out more over on her Ravelry project page here: Crossroadsdemon's Octarine Socks.

If you have some coordinating sock yarn leftovers, then how about copying cmflame (aka Charissa) and using them in a pattern like Bockleton (or Mixalot or Otis). Charissa has made this splendid pair using Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock for the main yarn, with leftovers for the colour work sections. Cmflame's Bockleton Socks.

One of my favourite thing about Rachel's sock knitalongs is seeing all the patterns knitted up in different yarns - I always choose some new favourites and mess around with my pattern queue after browsing that thread! I do hope that you have found some inspiration here. Let us know which design you will be casting on, then join us in the Summer of Socks thread to knit along.

Happy knitting!

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).

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

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.