Wednesday, 30 April 2014

New website

Just to let you know that I now have a new website specifically to focus on my pattern design and professional knitting life. For now, I will keep this going as a personal blog and then review once the dust has settled.

Information on my patterns, design work, teaching and classes will now be found at:

Please do pop over there to take a look and let me know what you think. While you are there, why not sign up for my newsletter to make sure you never miss an update?

Friday, 25 April 2014

FO Friday - Spring Shawl

It's Friday, the sun is shining (well it might do later, if it feels like it) and I have a new FO:

My new Hitchhiker shawl in some fabulous yarn from The Love of Yarn. I got my sticky little paws on this yarn courtesy of the Trial Club for The Golden Skein and have been wondering how best to use it in a project.

The colours are a vibrant mixture of yellows, golds, greens, blues and greys. Now yellow isn't really my thing and I can count on one hand the number of projects I have made which contain yellow - a check of my 280-odd Ravelry projects confirms this anti-yellow bias - but I Love, Love, Love this shawl.

The colours work really well together and although I did get some pooling (although the changing stitch count helped to minimise it) I think it looks fabulous in the finished item and is really very wearable. It isn't quite as long as my other Hitchhiker (I think I got 34 'teeth') but the ends are long enough to wrap comfortably and I'm very happy with it.

Note to self: next time put makeup on before taking FO photo.

The Spring KAL is continuing over on the group , with some fabulous finished items on show. Do pop over and check out what others are doing and feel the Sping Love.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Oh no - no FO today

My run of FOs has come to an end, and instead I have lots of WIPs - some old and some new.

The Hitchhiker continues apace and I hope to be finished with that fairly soon.

I have also started a sock yarn blanket - yes I know I said I would never do one but it just goes to show that you should never say never. During a spring-clean of my sock yarn stash I unearthed over 1.2kg of sock yarn (and that is just the good stuff). I found a lot of Regia and basic sock yarn leftovers which went to the charity shop.

So, what is one to do with 1.2kg of beautiful (mostly hand-dyed) sock yarn but turn it into a thing of beauty - a monster sock yarn blanket no less.

I am following this pattern, but with modifications so that the first square is turned on it's side - see here-  to become a diamond. This means that the blanket is then shaped with straight edges and avoids the need to knit lots of little triangles to fill in the gaps.

I had a very productive day recently and made a flying start;

That pesky thing called work has slowed me down a little since, but I am aiming to do a square a day, with the odd power blitz on it every so often.

I won't bore you with it's slow incremental progress but I think it will be fun to do a monthly update of progress - if nothing else it will keep the project in the front of my knitting mind and stop it sinking to the murky depths of my WIP pile.

I read a helpful tip for knitting one of these blankets somewhere which said that you should aim to get a sizeable amount done in the first few weeks when enthusiasm levels are at their highest. Once that's done, it's a lot harder to ignore a blanket with 50+ squares compared to one with just 5.

I'll get back to you on that one :)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

WIP Wednesday: Spring KAL

Over on my Ravelry group I am hosting a Spring KAL. A fun relaxed KAL with very few rules and lots of happy spring-like knitting.
It doesn't need to be one of my patterns, it can be socks, shawls, mitts, even a full scale sweater if you have the stamina.

Just cast on anytime from now onwards and finish before May 30th. Post your cast on post and project pictures over in the group thread to qualify for one of the three prizes and tag your project with #springiscoming.

You can also join in on Instagram with the hashtag #springKAL

As for my spring project. I have chosen a Hitchhiker in some beautiful yarn from the Golden Skein..
A delicious blend of wool and bamboo, nothing says spring to me more than these vibrant yellows and greens.

Happy days.

Friday, 28 March 2014

A sewn FO

Not a knitted FO this week but a sewn one.

Trust me, those aren't words that I thought I would be typing anytime soon. I am a huge fan of the Great British Sewing Bee but I have always regarding sewing as very much a spectator sport. Memories of enforced sewing lessons at school, having to french seam a blouse and pressing pleats was enough to give me the shivers.

But a chance encounter on Twitter from Jacqui Harding aka Curvyjax pointed the way to this: a tutorial for sewing a skirt in 30 minutes.

I had to admit that I was intruiged and couldn't help popping in to my local yarn and haberdashery shop to browse fabric.

Of course, predictably I couldn't resist this cute mushroom print cotton fabric.

So I came home, dusted off the sewing machine and made a skirt.

It is far from perfect and the waistband goes a little 'off-piste' shall we say. But it's fun and I'm wearing it today and feeling fab.

Now that I have dug the ironing board out of the pantry I may even indulge in some more sewing - who knows?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

WIP Wednesday - Naming and Shaming

This post is by way of naming a shaming a work-in-progress which has been lingering for far too long.

It is loosely based on the Mitered Crosses blanket by the talented Mason-Dixon Knitting ladies and has been a pleasure to work on. The yarn is fabulous - Shilasdair Luxury dk yarn which is a blend of british lambswool, cashmere, baby camel and angora. It has just the right amount of fuzziness, delicious hand-dyed tonal variation and is feels wonderful.

Indeed, it was recently enthused about by Juju Vail from Loop London and the ladies from Pom Pom magazine in their new podcast or Pomcast as they charmingly call it.

The pattern, based on mitered squares is fun and portable. There are some ends to weave in but I have been strict with myself and so each finished square is all done and dusted.

So far I have 12 completed squares (and another 5 waiting for their cream border) and I estimate that I need about 36.

So, if it is such a lovely project and such a delight to work on why on earth does my Ravelry page insist that I started it nearly a year ago - May 2013 to be precise. A mistake surely?

But no, it doesn't lie. The sad fact is that I am too easily distracted by other projects. Too easily lured away by the the new and shiny.

So this post is away of me 'outing' my project and stating loudly and the time it is cosy blanket weather again I WILL have a finished blanket.... probably.

Friday, 21 March 2014

FO Friday - new socks

Apart from new shoes, is there anything that makes you happier on a lovely spring day than new socks.

Fabulous colours, simple vanilla socks with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel and wonderful Knitting Goddess club yarn - happy day

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A new shawl

No sooner is one shawl off the needles then I'm powerless to resist casting on another.

It didn't help that one of my favourite shawl designers - Sue Lazenby has a new e-book out and no sooner had I caught sight of her latest shawl - The Lichen & Moss Shawl from her Celtic Woodland Collection - then the Paypal purchase has whizzed through and I was hunting for the perfect yarn.

This collection (a bargain at £12.50) had 5 lovely patterns for shawls, cowls and a hat. All in the fabulous textured stitch patterns that Sue is becoming known for.

The shawl comes in two sizes - a 'standard' shawl size which uses 100g 4ply yarn and a larger size which looks wonderfully wrappable and which requires 200g 4ply. No prizes for guessing which one I wanted to make.

I found 2 skeins of Knitting Goddess 4ply sock yarn in a lovely semi-solid caramel/beige colourway and I was away:

Most of this was knit during the wildly exciting Six Nations rugby on Saturday but I'm loving the pattern and am planning to knit on it a little more today after I have done my 'chores'.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Zilver - an FO

This months delivery from The Golden Skein really fired my enthusiasm and I knew that I had to cast on something Right Now, with at least one of these gorgeous skeins

I chose this wonderful 4ply sock yarn from The Yarn Garden. It's a deliciously soft silk/wool blend called Miss Wilmott's Ghost and it is an amazingly subtle blends of greys. Now I am a complete sucker for a good grey or neutral at the best of times but this yarn was truely wonderful to work with.

I chose a pattern which would have a lot of stocking stitch to show off the wonderful shades of grey - pardon the expression - and I plumped for Zilver, from the very talented Lisa Mutch. (Whispers - and it's free)

Sometimes you have that perfect synchronicity of yarn and pattern and I'm pleased to say that this was the case here.

I cast on 5th March, 2014 and a little over a week later I have a lovely, versatile, silky, grey shawl to wear to work today.

I must admit that in this photo it was still slightly damp from blocking and has an end to weave in - I tucked it out of sight for the photo. But, right after the small peeps have had breakfast and in that 5 minute lull before we leave the house I will sew it in and wear my Zilver with pride on this misty spring morning.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Garter Ripple Squish

This week I have been all about the garter stitch again.

It is my default setting for baby blankets - producing a wonderful squishy fabric. It doesn't roll, curl or otherwise misbehave. It feels lovely and light, has texture without being 'too bumpy' for sensitive skins and in general, is just about perfect.

But, as much as I love it, even I have to admit that knitting a 26" square blanket in flat garter stitch can be a tad on the tedious side.

I experimented with feather and fan patterns, but DS1 (my arbiter of all things blankie-related) pronounced them to be too girly. I tried a crochet ripple, but that ended in tears (mine) and tantrums (also mine). Suffice to say that crochet and I are never going to be bosom buddies.

So I combined garter stitch with a feather and fan pattern - and was smitten.

The finished blanket is approx 24.5" by 27" - so perfect for a crib, pram or car seat. It could easily be made larger though by using a heavier yarn and larger needles or by adding more pattern repeats. Each 18-st pattern repeat adds about 3" horizontally to the width of the blanket.

The name - Garter Ripple Squish was the result of a conversation between DS1 and myself:

Garter - wonderful, baby friendly and simple
Ripple - fun and easy to remember stitch pattern
Squish - the first word DS1 used upon picking up the sample

...enough said.

And as for DS1, he is mightily pleased with his new blankie which is great news. DS2 is decidedly jealous though, so I spy more GRS's in my immediate future.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Hoar Frost socks

Just a quick sprint through to say that my latest sock pattern - Hoar Frost - is now released. It is a fun and relaxing knit, with some interesting slipped stitches and a leetle bit of lace. Nothing too stressful and the 4-row pattern repeat is easy to memorise.

As with many of my patterns there are toe-up and cuff down versions so you can go for your favourite style, and there is also a non-lace alternative as an appendix to the pattern just in case you are knitting for someone like my DH who is 'allergic' to lace in all forms.

As an added incentive, there is 50% discount off the purchase price until tomorrow (4:30pm GMT) when you use the code FROSTYSOCKS at checkout.

Friday, 21 February 2014

FO: Irish Coffee sweater

I've loved this tunic-style sweater ever since I saw it and have looked at it longingly from time to time. The designer, Thea Colman (aka baby Cocktails) has hit a real winner here with it's simple styling and attention to detail. As we all know, I am a complete sucker for cables and the unusual notched neckline really jumped out at me.

Casting around for a 'me' project for the Ravellenics I quickly decided that this was The One.

Some lovely Artesano merino dk jumped into my shopping basket at The Sheep Shop, Cambridge and the decision was made.

I cast on during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and the thing practically flew off the needles. Even the ribbed yoke which I thought would take an eternity (2x2 rib is not my best friend) seemed to fly by. The whole thing was knit in 5 days (with another day to weave in ends and block) - surely a record for me.

The instructions were wonderfully clear and there were lots of tips for customising the sweater to fit. As it happens, I knit the piece practically as written. The only change I made was to lengthen the body by 3" and also to continue with the hip increases - increasing 2 stitches every 2" to achieve a slightly longer and more A-line shape. I also kept the sleevs quite short, just adding a few garter stitch rows and then binding off firmly.

I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. The yarn is wonderfully sproingy (useful technical knitting term). It has great stitch definition but is very soft and comfortable to wear. It is warm without being too hot and 'woolly' and it is machine washable which means it will see regular use in my wardrobe - as I am notoriously slack at getting the hand washing done.

Full project details are here

I am now to going to put on my Ravellenic dress, award myself a gold medal and cheer on the GB men in the Curling final today - go Team GB!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

WIPing the sock yarn stash

This year sees me facing up to my considerable stash of sock yarn. As beautiful as it is, it needs to earn its keep in my house and become something else.
I don't have enough to undertake a mammoth blanket such as this wonderful example (or the mental fortitude either) but I do want to be able to make something useful. 

DH commented the other day on these stripey scarves you often see men wearing - long and thin with horizontal stripes. That put me in mind of the Mini Mania scarf - something which has been in my queue after seeing some lovely  examples on Ravelry.

Now, long rows of linen stitch don't sound like fun to me but over 1100 Ravelers can't be wrong. I've picked out a mixture of blues/greys/greens from my stash as well as the odd pop of colour, but I've left out the bright pink. DH's colour choices tend towards the conservative so I don't want to scare him.

Who knows - if I try to do a row per day I might have it ready for him by Christmas.


Monday, 17 February 2014

A handy knitting app

Ever since getting my smart phone a year ago I've been using the handy Ravulous app for android. It's a quick and easy way to upload photos, update WIPs and check my queue when I'm out and about. As we all know, there's nothing worse than standing in a yarn shop ready to purchase, only to realise that you can't remember what weight of yarn you need, or how many skeins. In fact, it's so handy that I definitely wouldn't be without it now.

It has become a lot more useful now though with the recent addition of a simple row counter app. 

Called County Plus it can be downloaded from Google Play and it can be made to synch with your Ravelry account. You can upload your current projects to it and then use the counter to keep track of your number of rows. You can also have more than 1 counter per project - enabling you to keep track of raglan increases and a lace pattern at the same time, for example.

As knitting apps go, it is at the simpler end of the spectrum but jolly useful - and it is a firm favourite on my phone.

Friday, 14 February 2014

A Cheerful FO

Illness has one or two things to recommend it. I might be downing antibitoics and sleeping for England but the WIPs are flying off the needles too.

This week we have some lovely socks - made with the Knitting Goddess Fairy Tale club yarn. February's month is called Snow Blindness and I just loved the shades of blue in this. I wanted to relax and enjoy the colours so I opted for another plain 64st toe-up vanilla sock with a Fish Lips Kiss heel which is rapidly becoming a favourite.

I love the fact that the heel has very little counting and fiddling involved - making it much easier to tackle when out and about. With my normal toe-up heel turn I find that I have to allow enough time to get the turn done in one sitting. If I put it down and come back to it later it's touch and go whether I will get in a tangle or not.

I've also finished my Irish Coffee sweater and it is blocking currently - so pictures will have to wait until a) it is dry, b) we have some sunshine and c) I can locate where DS2 has hidden my phone charger :)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

In progress..

A brief mention of my Ravellenic knitting today:

The Irish Coffee sweater/tunic by the very talented Thea Colman. I am using Artesano superwash merino dk in a lovely mid-grey colour which I first thought was a solid colour but on closer inspection I was pleased to see little white flecks giving a very subtle tweedy texture to the finished fabric.

The pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn at a gauge of 4st per inch so I went with the dk and was prepared to do a little maths to make it fit. However, the yarn turns out to be quite a thick dk weight and knits up perfectly on 4.5mm needles to get the gauge spot on.

Some enforced bed rest - courtesy of a bout of sinusitis and tonsilitis - has meant that I have done plenty of Olympic watching and knitting (as well as sleeping) and the sweater has grown at a highly satisfactory rate.

I want it to be a decent length - more tunic than sweater so I reckon I have another 3-4 inches to go.

At this rate I'm hoping it will be an FO by the end of the week.

As the dreary weather continues I cheered myself up in the time honored fashion with a little retail therapy:

Who could fail to be cheered by these little rainbow goodies - some wonderful mini-skeins from Joy (aka The Knitting Goddess). A delicious pile of colour waiting to become my next WIP.

Friday, 7 February 2014

A baby blanket FO

Before I start my Ravellenics project I have been working to clear the needles of a few things - mainly because I need them to be able to cast on other things.

One of my husbands co-workers is expecting a baby imminently and so he requested a suitable gender-neutral baby blanket for her.

I was keen to use up some stashed Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino so I resorted to my old favourite - a squishy, simple garter stitch blanket.

As both parents are mathmeticians I thought it was fun to base the stripe sequence on the Fibonacci sequence and so I used the grey in lines of 1,1,2,3,5 in between blocks of cream. In total I think I used 3 balls of the cream and 2 balls of the grey.

I added a simple garter stitch, mitered border in grey and overall I am very pleased with it.

It is on the small side, at approx 21" by 24.5" but I figure that it will be handy for those early months when you need something light to throw over a pram or crib, or tuck into a car seat without too much trailing behind you.

And as an added bonus, I love the way the grey looks to be different shaded on the reverse - a fun optical illusion created by the stripes.

Full details: Mini Genius Baby Blanket

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A bit of a spruce up

Please bear with me whilst my poor neglected blog undergoes a bit of face lift. It hasn't seen the light of day since I was swamped with a woolly avalanche of holiday and deadline knitting.

So, high time to dust things off, move things around a little and let some light into those sad, dusty corners.

It goes without saying that the knitting has been coming on a pace. Lots of socks (surprise!) and a new pattern coming soon.

Just a few photos to brighten things up before I start tinkering...

 Plain vanilla socks in The Knitting Goddess, January Club Yarn - Wolf

Multnomah in Sparkleduck yarn, courtesy of The Golden Skein

 Stitch detail on my latest pattern - being tested

Close up of the cable detail in my recently released Bleaberry Tarn socks