Seven Socks for Christmas

As this will be my last post before the holiday and probably the New Year let me wish you all Seasonal joy and a Peaceful New Year.

This year Christmas is a low-key affair I am not making presents or indeed giving any (I don’t want others to spend their hard-earned money on me). I have made blankets for my grandsons because I can’t always be there to hug them but a blanket says I would if I could.

Remembering last years Christmas misery of flu when I discovered the joy of straight knitting socks and with New Year round the corner I investigated my sock knitting bag. I am wearing more handmade socks now I have some lovely new shoes to wear them with (thicker socks need wider shoes).

I probably need to complete the pair for the 3 odd socks in it. There are several idea yarns – some donated or scrounged from the lovely Mr Wrack at Triskelion Yarn .

I have just finished a couple of big projects (I will try to complete a year round-up of knitting sometime in the holidays) and have no real idea what to do. There were a couple of unfinished pairs lying around the shop too. So my mission this season is to complete as many pairs of socks as possible. Sock knitting is easily transportable and not too intrusive.  I think seven (socks not pairs) is a reasonable number to attempt and those tiny ones do up in no time.DSCF6581

 

I can recommend a piece by Kate Davies  on gauge, for a quick Christmas read.  I love it that although the yarn is the same all of the designers in her new book have different gauge ideas about the fabric they want to produce. Why everyone is so surprised that we all knit differently and our tension is variable? — we are not machines and do not have settings!!

I fully agree with her on swatching especially if you are inexperienced – knitter know thyself . I am sloppy and need to come down to 3.75mm or even 3.25mm needles for a DK yarn to be around 22st to 4″ and my tension goes haywire if I knit in the round and when I knit colour-work so for hats I plan to make several or stick to patterns or stitch numbers that work for me. Take responsibility for your work, and at least check part way.  That said, only way to really check a hat (or a sock) fits is to try it on and wear it ……

Now where is my notebook …  what did I cast on for those socks and which needles did I use? Ho Ho Ho Nadolig Llawen

 

Penecillin, tassels and bat hats

I have had another bout of sinusitis and have been off my game/head. Bending and turning is painful and my current morning routine includes a little group of tables mostly white (the penicillin however is dark red and orange (see below). I have been making the stars for the window which …… got a bit boring so I decided I needed hats, comfort, protective, not too much thinking and easy to complete!

The first was a bat hat – for my Grandson Jake, who is big into superheros and not into hats…… It isn’t perfect but the next one should be DSCF6563

Then I finished a chunky version with some marled combo yarn (from a trial that didn’t work as a I hoped) but it needed a pompom or something (fashionista I am not)…….. tassels anyone?!!

 

I have a basic hat in the shop simple as and I have even rewritten its pattern this week too…just waiting for printing this one is in Illustious heather

Having got going I went back to my love of fair-isle for a flourish and to try some special dyed Triskelion scylfing (where does he get those names?) it is lovely and I mixed it with some Wendy Ramsdale (in a colour they don’t do anymore)…. wonder where that colour scheme came from? It needs a little finish to the back pompoms? tassel? or stars???

 

 

Cowl Recipe

 

DSCF6558I have made a number of samples which are on display in the shop. They show off the yarn colour combinations and ideas for changing yarn type or weight. They are there to inspire. Recently I have been chastised for not having them all available as patterns.

Sorry people but writing detailed patterns for a dyslexic is more than a bit stressful. I find lots of written patterns easily jumble K1,P2,K3 sl, jumping around on the page is a recipe for knitting chaos.

So my patterns are usually stitch recipes

Number of stitches to cast on

The stitch pattern ( 1 repeat of the stitch combinations)

Number of repeats of the pattern (across and/or up the pattern)

It works for the cushion cover mitts and cowls.

Cowls especially worked in the round are simple to do (and no sewing required!). And you can do your own plain or colour work one

with a quick calculation and a chart search of the net. First pick your wool and pattern.

The calculation

Measure how long you want your cowl 22″ or 24″ gives a neat neck warmer: I usually go 22″

Check Ball band of chosen wool for gauge Number of stitches (10cm is 4″)

22 divide by 4 = 5.5 muliply by number of stitches in gauge (DK =22) gives cast on 111st

Plain cowl sorted Stocking st or any texture stitch (moss st or basket st works for a reversable one)–just carry on for the depth you want deeper the better (I estimate 100g for 6″ in DK)

Adapting for the pattern

If you want to add some stranded knitting choose a design there are lots of free charts on the net. Use one with as few long runs of single colours to cut down on baggy strands at the back. Count the number of stitches across your pattern (37). Get the calculator and divide the basic cast on stitches (111) number by this (37).  3 (oh I didn’t fix that at all) so repeat the pattern 3 times across each row.

If you find you need a few more cast on the extra number to make full repeats and if there are extra stitches spread them out evenly between the motifs .

Simples honest !!!

 

 

Starry Starry Night

Christmas is coming and as usual I’m struggling to fill the enormous space that is the window……………

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Then I found this pattern for knitted stars so simple and on straight needles so ……. whizz

It’s taken me a week of fiddling with the sizes but I am getting there …… DSCF6555

 

why, even though there are the  same number of stitches do the big ones take longer????

But Super chunky on 20mm needles would make a great cushion, or in blue or green for starfish??

Anyway if you would like to make some tooo…….. (not as RedApple decor)

We are offering drop in class during Knit Night on 6th December 6:30 – 8pm (Lampeter Late Shopping) and on 8th December 1:30 – 3:30pm

Twinkle Twinkle…………….

 

Owligan Kate Davies

I am a fan of Kate Davies work I have all her books and have made a couple of her fairisle designs. I liked the way she combines the history of Shetland and knitting with knitting design into the early books. The patterns are beginner friendly and not patronising. She is a knitter, who has taken the craft and developed a modern knitting business. Read some of her blog posts about her journey, inspiring. The owl pattern and owligan were her first designs to be published and are now ten years old. She is currently promoting the pattern again with yarn from our old friend New Lanark Mill.

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We have stocked aran weight NLM yarn since opening the shop and is has been very popular – it is a quite old fashioned feeling yarn a little rough at the edges but which knit up well and although it will full into a soft fabric I have never managed to felt or shrink it (even with a lot of trying). There have been some new, more modern colours recently and although the price had gone up distinctly over the years it is still very good value for money, especially for cushions and outer wear.

We currently have some stock of Chunky for the owl and owligan pattern and if you would like to order a pattern and wool from us by the end of November it will be £7/100g (rather than £8.50). Happy Knitting

Marlin’……..no not a fish

 

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Shale and Gwynnon Knit together

I have noticed patterns recently where designers — doubling yarn up (Carbeth Kate Davies ) or  combining yarns weights (Purl Solo) for projects. It is something I do often but customers seem very put off by the idea. Maybe it’s the chance of the two yarns separating or the whole idea doesn’t seem right — if you are a spinner you will know that most yarn is plyed – that is more that one thread is twisted together or onto itself to make the thicker yarn that we know and work with. The tighter the twist and the more threads in the bundle the better stitch definition you get when working, (this is why merino is popular as it can be made thinner and therefore more strands). There are a number of these types of yarn in the shop ready mixed.

 

I have a thick wooly cold weather jumper, I knit in 3 or 4 strands of leftovers of 4ply.Jpeg

cold weather jumper

 

My current interest in marls began with the visit to John Arbon SunShine, Lollipops and John Arbon in the summer he had spun some fine DK yarns for the open day with colours and yarns from his range mixed together. I liked. The yarns like this are known as marl traditionally with a light and dark colour but these are 2 3 or 4  threads in different colours. I knitted a hat and mitts which are a current fav in one skein (dark purple-red in the picture) which is 3 dark colours together and I remembered messing with Cambrian colours into marls. DSCF6547

When knitting stradns together it works best in slightly grabby (haloed) yarns that stick together and wind them together.  You will need to knit a tension square as a guide to how thick your joined up yarn is (2x 4ply together can knit as DK on 4 or 3.75mm,  2xDK will knit for me on 5mm if they are skinny and 6mm if they are plump (depends on the density of the fabric you want). You can also mix the weights eg  an aran type with a DK and a 4ply or three of four strands of 4plys. Even 5 or six strands to get chunky.  I use a ball winder and check the strands are twisting together. It doesn’t come apart as easily as they wind together so do some playing with small amount first. Once you have a fabric you like then look for patterns with that gauge.

All marls ‘pool’- as the thread twists as you knit and colours in the strand do not come to the front evenly so you get patches of colour, be aware that the colours will pool more if you knit 2 strands together than if they are spun. But I like that random break up of colours and it shouldn’t come into too big blocks.

I have since knit a cardigan (up  and over) 5mm needles in DK (Cambrian Wool) gwynnon and shale together and the same pattern in red – WYS Gems in ruby and Woolyknit BFL in garnet. I am hooked I really like the dark shade of one colour and similar colours together. You get semi solid tone across the knitting especially from a distance.

Using 3 finer 4plys I made a vest. It used one strand each pale grey Welsh wool from my stash, 4ply slate from CMWools and a pale natural brown from Jamieson&Smith.

What else??? It’s great for stash busting you just need the yardage in all yarns for the thicker pattern ! And play …….

 

The Knitting Police……….

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It has been a while since I wrote, there have been things going on in my life. Including 2 hours of driving most nights, something which with the commentary on Radio 4, at least allows thought. This is a post I have been trying to concoct for a while and then this post (Science Daily ) came in from a women in business support group I have recently joined.

I try not to judge (I even found judging at local craft shows hard). As a knitter  (and a shop owner) I want to encourage people to do craft. I believe we can learn from all achievements (even the knitting disasters and wrong size choices). I have learnt much about my knitting and achieving fit from my whooooops moments. The biggest recent one is a 4ply top down creation in Alpaca sock yarn I took back the whole body from under the arms down and re-doing it. Something I’m quite proud of ’cause usually that would have become bin fodder.

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This now looks like more like this and fits!!

As a social species we have hierarchy or dominance behaviour built it to our make up basically to reduce the number of street brawls and risk of harm to others in the group. Dominance Behaviour means people mostly avoid or defer to aggressive people — pick your fight and know when its worth biting back. Living in bigger groups requires cultural and social rules to control aggressive behaviours and misuse of assumed power. Some would say it is a natural part of being human – but avoiding conflict is also part of being human and being civilised means culturally we don’t like any misuse of the power deferment gives others.  The misuse of power and bullying is not acceptable.

So the The Knitting Police????? –

Knowledge is power. Knitting alot means I know alot about ‘knittins’. Many people come into the shop and make comments about their knitting/crochet. Usually along the lines of ‘its not perfect’ or ‘I don’t do garments because I can’t get them perfect’ or ‘my gauge is off’ or ‘the last thing I did, didn’t work out well’. Self critical judgement with no analysis of why. It may put them off knitting ever again. Heaven knows how negative their experience of learning was, but here are no knitting police.

Then there are the knitting athletes for whom craft is the olympics – competitors who do the hardest knitting techniques or the most complex stitches, the most knitting, the most completed patterns on Ravelry, all the ‘In’ patterns on Ravelry.

Knitting (for knitting read ‘and/or crochet’) really has something for everybody, but it should not be about intimidation.

Only you know all the slipped stitches and extra rows you added to a pattern ’cause you missed an increase. Unless you are competing for a prize in the local show no-one else will know if there are three more rows in the back or front. And anyway adding or taking out rows for your fit are acceptable deviations from the pattern. The designer isn’t going to come after you and inspect your knitting – I hope they have better things to do.

There are no knitting police, only the few people who use your knitting insecurities to make themselves feel bigger (or better). These people should be avoided – most knitters are encouraging, mutually supportive and just happy to share with other like minded soles the joy of a completed item and a well made stitch or a challenge achieved.

First decide if you enjoyed the process then, pick up the insecurities, learn new techniques, be brave enough to make the odd mistake, frog if necessary, find ways around the issue (knit in the round if you hate sewing up), talk to the real encouraging knitters and just avoid all those power grabbers.