FO: Budleigh

Second in my Rachel Coopey A-Z of socks is Budleigh.

I love the mix here of the double cables with the snaking twisted stitches.  The double cables are offset, giving a lovely slanted effect.  And in one of the designer’s signature features, the socks are perfect mirrors of each other. They were very quick to knit too, with the first one taking just a week from start to finish.

The yarn is a skein I’ve had in stash for a while. It’s Artists Palette Smoothie Sock in a bright semi-solid pink. The yarn is a blend of 75% merino and 25% nylon. It’s incredibly soft and quite fine.  I’ve been worried that the high merino content might make them prone to wear and felting, but they’ve been holding up very well so far, and the cheerful colour is just the thing on a dull day.

Advertisements

FO: Ficus

After the epic project that was Evenstar, I needed to follow up with something quick and simple to cleanse my knitting palette.

Ficus was one of those brilliant one-skein projects, perfect for that special skein of 4-ply yarn and super-quick to knit.  It’s a triangular top-down shawl that begins with a garter tab cast on, has a panel of stocking stitch and a simple leaf lace border.

I’m trying to be a bit more adventurous with yarn, using variegated skeins more in my work.  Here I used a merino/silk/yak blend from Nimu yarns.  This was from her summer yarn club in 2016, and it has a lovely mix of autumnal shades.  I’ve not yak or a yak blend before, but it has a lovely drape and softness.

I’m always really nervous of variegated yarns pooling, and a top down triangle is a good way of breaking up regular pooling patterns because of the stitch count changing each row.  You get the joy of the colours blending and contrasting, but without the anxiety of strange pooling effects.

The downside to single-skein triangular shawls is that I often find them a bit on the small side, with not quite enough length to enable them to be wrapped effectively round the neck.  So with Ficus I chose to extend the leaf lace pattern with extra repeats until I had used up as much of the yarn as possible.  I was left with around half a metre after I’d cast off, so I’m confident I’ve squeezed every last bit out of this beautiful skein.

FO: Alonzo

I’ve been enjoying my A-Z of shawls so much, I’ve decided to start one for socks as well.  But just to make things a little more challenging, I’m going to try to stick to patterns by one designer: Rachel Coopey.  Her sock patterns are beautifully written, a joy to knit and always very clever designs.  Looking at Ravelry, I’m good right up to until I get to Q, with a choice of patterns to make.  At the rate I knit socks, who knows – maybe she will have designed a pattern beginning with Q by the time I get there.

First up, is Alonzo, a beautifully textured pattern with Bavarian twisted stitches.  It’s just complex enough to keep you interested while you’re knitting, but without being so complex tht you can’t concentrate on anything else.  This is exactly the kind of knitting you can take out and about, or do while watching the television.

I love how the faux cables and twisted stitches build up the pattern, and how it grows and evolves.

It’s just such a shame that the dark winter days make it so difficult to properly photograph the colour of this yarn as well as I’d like.  It’s a rich, mallard green, called Apollo, with a beautiful intensity of colour.  It’s from a dyer called A Little Bit Sheepish, and is one of those skeins where the colour just called me from across the aisle at a yarn festival.  It’s a mix of 75% Bluefaced Leicester and 25% nylon.  The stitch definition is amazing, it takes dye beautifully, it has a generous 425 metres per 100g and it should make some hard-wearing socks.

FO: Evenstar

I promised you something special for E.  So here is Evenstar.

This circular shawl was an epic knit.  It took around seven months from cast on to cast off, though I did pick up and deal with other projects in the meantime.  It measures around 5 feet in diameter, took 1500 metres of yarn and 3,000 beads.

I cast on while watching Frozen on Christmas Day 2016.  I remember it vividly because Elsa singing “Let It Go” was not the most helpful things while I was trying to manage Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast On.  You need an extra hand or two for that at the best of times.

The pattern is by Susan Pandorf, part of a series of patterns themed around the Lord of the Rings.  I’ve loved it ever since I first set eyes on it, but didn’t have the skill at the time to do it.  Now, several years on, I felt ready to tackle it.

One of the tricky elements of this shawl is the ‘Evenstar stitch’, which is designed to resemble Arwen’s pendant from the books and films.  It’s a tricky stitch involving making seven stitches out of three.  Susan recommends practicing this stitch separately, before starting the shawl proper.  Learning from my nupp experience (it’s a similar technique), I used a crochet hook for this bit.

Because of the beads and the size of the shawl, I wanted a yarn with some strength to it.  I used Posh Yarn‘s Natasha Heavy Lace in a colourway called Peace Spreads Her Tranquil Blanket.  It’s a 50/50 mix of silk and camel.  I used three skeins overall – two for the body, and one for the knitted on edging.

The beaded knitted on edging was the hardest bit of this project.  It’s a great way of finishing a project, particularly for avoiding a long cast off, but, oh, was it dull.  The twenty row pattern repeat is just a bit too long to properly memorise, and it seemed to go on forever.

But it was worth every repetitive hour for a piece as stunning as this one.

FO: Pavone

Time for a quick FO.  This is Pavone.

Lola from Third Vault Yarns had been looking for some volunteers to try out new yarn bases for her.  She’s had to replace her fabulous Echo DK because the mill no longer make the base.  This is Crazy 8 – one of the two possible replacements.  It’s similar to Echo, with the same bouncy feel and producing well-defined stitches for textured knitting.  But it’s not a DK.  This is very definitely a sportweight yarn.

As soon as I saw this colourway (it’s called Black Rose) I fell in love with it.  The subtle shading and variegation over the pink base gives it a very grown up feel.  I immediately knew it wanted to be a hat.  I don’t have nearly enough hand-knitted hats, but I went immediately to the undisputed champion hat designer for this slouchy beanie pattern.  Woolly Wormhead’s hats are very contemporary in feel and design, always with interesting construction (though I wimped on the recommended cast on, going instead for a standard long tail).

FO: Dancing Butterflies

I’ve been really remiss lately about posting knitting and craft content, but that means I have a pile of FOs to tell you about.

First up is D in my A-Z of shawls.  This is Dancing Butterflies.  The pattern is by Carfield Ma.

I’ve been trying to get a bit more adventurous with my colour choices when I knit.  In particular, I’ve been trying to experiment with more variegated yarns.  This is another amazing colourway from Lola of Third Vault Yarns.  It’s called Deep Space, and is a lovely rich mix of purple, turquoise and blue, on her heavy laceweight base Tesseract.  I’ve matched the yarn with some rainbow coated beads in the same colour mix – they look like the refraction of colours you get on spilled oil.

I was careful to pick a pattern for this yarn where the stitch count is constantly changing, to try to avoid pooling.  I was really paranoid about some patches of pooling that were appearing as I was making it, but they don’t show up nearly as much in the finished shawl as I thought they would.

I think the semi-circular shape helps avoid too much pooling.  And semi-circular shawls are just so wearable, aren’t they?!  This one is another that’s loosely inspired by the German lace designs of Niebling, giving those lovely complex designs.  The heavy laceweight means it’s quite a bit more open and less delicate than some other shawls I’ve made, but the bold design and colour choice mean it goes with so much.

Onto E.  If all goes well, she should be a real stunner of a shawl …

FO: Phyllis Socks

One of the first skeins of yarn I bought from Third Vault Yarns, at Nine Worlds in 2015, was in a colourway called Gallifreyan Sunset.  It’s a measure of how fabulous Lola’s dyeing is that she has me falling in love with colours and dyeing styles that I would normally never contemplate.  Orange is just one of those colours that doesn’t agree with, much as I love its perky cheerfulness.

img_2945But I fell in love with this subtle blend of orange and terracotta, with its flashes of bright yellow and the occasional dusty purple.  And not just for being based on Doctor Who.  Lola tells me that this is such a difficult colourway she can’t reproduce it.   I have one of the few skeins that will ever exist.

img_2947I’d been saving it for the right project, and these socks were the perfect project.  The pattern is Phyllis, by Rachel Coopey, one of the patterns from her collection Coop Knits Socks Volume 2.  I love the textured cabled diamonds, and the definition provided by the twisted stitches.   The long chart meant this wasn’t the quickest of knits.  And it wasn’t helped by a catastrophic case of yarn barf that meant I had to untangle and completely recake the yarn at least twice, once during the middle of one of the panels at this year’s Nine Worlds.

img_2946Hand-knitted socks are perfect for these cold, wintery days.  And it brings me a great deal of knitterly and geeky pleasure to know that under my sober work outfits with their sensible winter boots I’m flying the geek flag with bright and cheerful socks.