Sunday, 26 June 2016

Battenburg Ankle Socks

My latest knitted socks just make me smile every time I look at them. If you've seen my last two knitted socks, which were first yellow and then pink, I mentioned that the wool reminded me of Battenburg cake. Then I realised that I had enough left over for a pair of Battenburg ankle socks. 

I knitted these without a pattern. They are toe up (again because I was worried about my small supply of wool). The only tricky part was to make sure that the check pattern repeats the whole way around the foot. These socks definitely need blocking, as although they look great on my daughter's feet, the carried wool behind meant that they are very cosy, and they looked very puckered when I had first finished knitting them. This also means there is not much stretch in them, and in fact my first attempt had to be undone, because they wouldn't fit even on her little feet. I used a short row heel, and Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off

I think they are the sort of socks to relax in with a slice of Battenburg cake.

Friday, 10 June 2016

My Pretty Pink Socks

I continue my sock knitting saga with another pair, and I think the prettiest yet. (Perhaps I can't call myself a novice sock-knitter any more, since this is pair number four.) They are knitted from Stephanie Pollmeier's Double Lace Rib Toe-Up Socks, which I found on ravelry. The pattern appealed to me firstly because the socks remind me of the white school socks that my daughter used to wear to school. I thought that the pink wool that I was planning to use needed a lacey pattern, but with the pattern just containing four rows this did not look too difficult.

While knitting these socks I have learned some techniques that were new to me. The first of which was the provisional cast on. I wasn't even sure what this was, but youtube always comes to the rescue and I found a video that was easy to follow on iknits glossary. I'm sure seasoned sock knitters know all about this, but if you don't it is a method where you cast on using a piece of waste yarn, keeping your cast on stitches live so you can knit on them and also in the other direction. You then can use both sets of stitches to knit in the round, and have a lovely smooth toe to your sock.

My next new technique was the short row heel. Since I use short row turns a lot in my own patterns this was fairly simple, and I quite liked this method since you don't have to pick up stitches from a knitted edge always a bit of a worry whether you are doing it evenly or not.

Knitting from the toe up does seem a good idea, especially if you are a bit uncertain whether you have enough wool. I wanted these sock to be fairly long,.

I hit another problem when I came to casting off. I am not sure if I have chunky calves, but after my first cast off I realised that if they were to fit I would have to cast off much more loosely. With a combination of switching to larger needles for the penultimate row and cast off row, and using this loose cast off method, they now fit perfectly.   

What I love about these socks are that they fit my feet really well. I guess that is one of the advantages about knitting your own socks. Perhaps buying socks will be something I don't do any more. Though they did seem to take me a long time. I only used 84g of wool (which was My First Regia), but with fine wool it feels as if you are never going to get to the end of the ball. 

I am now pondering what to knit next. I still have a yearning (or should I say yarning? ha ha) for some spotty socks, but also have been thinking I may make some for Mr Ginx.  Though when I mentioned this to him, his colour choice seemed to be black, brown or grey. I don't think I will be sticking to that.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Little Teddy Bear

After knitting my big teddy pattern, I had in mind that it might be fun to knit some much smaller teddy bears, using the same techniques. So while all the ideas were still in my head, it seemed like a good idea to crack on with a small teddy pattern. 

These teddy bears are a much quicker knit, only taking 30g of double knit wool. The finished bears are 22cm or 8.5 inches tall when standing. I have used the same methods - knitting all pieces flat, with some short rows to get curves. I have also used toy makers joints (which are easily available), but if you didn't want to do this you could just sew on the head and limbs.
Teddy Family Portrait

I turned away and when I looked back the teddies were doing this ....

... and then this
and finally this ...

What are they like? 

With the joints your teddy can have all sorts of fun. I did consider making them little sweat bands, or even P.E. or ballet outfits.  

Teddy bears out by the strawberry patch.

The pattern is available in all the usual places, ravelry, Etsy, Craftsy, and Loveknitting. I have put a new link to my Loveknitting Shop in the sidebar.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Yarn Bombing

Yesterday I had a trip down to the coast in Kent to visit my mum. We had lunch out, and wheeled her down the pier. I thought you might like to see these photos of the railings, which have been yarn bombed. I think it has even been added to since my last visit (when I forgot to take my camera).
As you can see it goes on for yards and yards ....

I love this giant tarantula, as well as the red arrows display team ...

... and this chicken and food section ...

So much for my idea to knit a Battenburg cake. It is so hard to come up with something original.

Lovely bright beach huts ...

... and I liked this spooky display.

I even saw a starfish, which I am pretty sure was knitted from my own pattern. Well done Herne Bay knitters and crocheters, you have done a fantastic job!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Fair Isle Hat

For a bit of a change I thought I would have a go at knitting Janet of Yellow, Pink and Sparkly's Fair Isle hat pattern. I haven't done much Fair Isle knitting recently, (unlike Janet who seems to be able to regularly knock out a Fair Isle garment) and had forgotten how very pleasing it can be. I know this probably looks very tricky, but you are only working with two colours together. The knitting is not the hard bit, compared to the running in of ends when you have finished.

I just picked out these colours from my stash of wool at randon, trying to mix it up a bit with some light, dark, brights etc. The pattern really usefully tells you exactly how many grams you need of each of the eight colours, which explains why I was there in the kitchen weighing out my wool before I started.

My little model has become quite reluctant these days. (I can't understand it, as she always seems to snapping pictures of herself or her nails.) So the best way to get a photo was to pop the hat on her head while she was distracted with homework. We also ended up with some "why are you asking me to do this?" photos, but I really like the one below. We decided to go for the slouchy look. You also have a rare thing; some photos of me at the top and bottom of this post.

My only problem when it came to the knitting was that I only have a black and white printer, so had to spend a while marking on the pattern chart which colour was which. Perhaps if I am going to more Fair Isle I will have to invest in a new printer.

I am really delighted with my new hat. Thank you for the free pattern Janet. Having blocked my socks last week, I thought the hat might also benefit from being blocked. I am not sure if a slightly deflated football is an accepted method, but it seemed to work, and smoothed out some of the stitches. I am thinking of taking it in to wow school knitting club next week, as they have been asking me if you can mix up colours when you knit! 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Confessions of a Novice Sock Knitter

I have been struggling with socks for several weeks, which is partly a result of being fairly new to sock knitting, and also because I bought some wool in the January sales, of my big local department store that is "never knowingly undersold". In this case it is probably true, as these balls of My First Regia were only 50p each. (I guess it is probably meant for baby garments, but as it is 4ply socks seemed like a good idea.) The problem with buying bargain wool is that you then have to find a pattern to suit.  This will be my third ever pair of knitted socks, and you can see the others here and here.

My first idea was to use both colours and knit some spotty socks. I still really like the idea of spots on socks. The pattern I found used two threads at once. You knit in rib and alter which thread is brought forward to make the spots. Sounds complicated - it was! Well it beat me, as I just got very confused counting stitches in my head, about which row I was on and which set of brackets I was following. This isn't meant as a criticism of the pattern, just an illustration of how hard socks can be.

So I unravelled, and decided that perhaps I could use this double knitting technique, but just forget about the spots. Half way down the first sock I couldn't bear to keep going. There were just too many mistakes where I had used the wrong yarn, and although the errors probably wouldn't have been noticed, I just couldn't face continuing with what I knew was a bad job. So they were unravelled too.

Some hunting on ravelry, and I found a new sock pattern Hearts for You by Sabine Riefler. The hearts on the sock cuff looked really pretty. I had the idea of knitting the cuff in yellow, and the rest of the sock in pink, but teenage daughter told me this would look awful, and for once I took her advice, and stuck to just one colour. 

All was going well until of got to turning the heel, and just couldn't work out to knit the short row heel. (As I said I am a newbie sock knitter.) But the pattern does say you can use your preferred heel, so I managed to do a standard heel I have done before, and returned to the pattern for the toe. A bit of a shame, as I would like to try and learn some different sock techniques. Toe-up, magic loop or patterned, but I guess I can always try on the next pair

Wrinkly socks before I had done any blocking

... and lovely and smooth after blocking

Socks done I decided that blocking them might be a good idea. I am not a frequent blocker of knitting, mainly because I think it is only really essential if you do lace knitting (or clothing), and I don't do a lot of either. So looking online I see there are such things as sock blockers (which I don't possess). I also found a great tutorial on Craftsy, showing you how to make a sock frame out of a wire coat hanger. Alas, I could not even find one of these, so I decided to improvise with a piece of plastic packaging material. It really has improved the look of my socks. 

I started off drying them on a towel ....

... but then decided they would do better on the line

Here are the finished socks, which I think may become bed socks for next winter. I still have the pink wool, and thought I might have a go at some more socks perhaps with a slightly fancy stitch on the whole sock. I would welcome any suggestions of patterns, but nothing too complicated. 

I also have another idea for a jokey knit from my leftover bits of wool. Can you guess? Every time I look at this yellow and pink I can't help thinking of something tasty. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Chilling in the Garden

This is my grumpy old-lady cat enjoying the back garden. Even though she was loving the sun, you can tell by the look in her eye that I was really annoying her just by being there. Please appreciate I had to lie on my stomach to get these shots! Perhaps it may be time to get out the lawnmower,