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.

FO: Ceciliana

Two FOs in one week?!  I am spoiling you.  This is Ceciliana, next in the A-Z of shawls.  

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The sharp-eyed among you will have spotted that there is no lace here.  With Ceciliana I’ve tried another technique that is new to me: mosaic knitting.  This is a style of colourwork knitting, but unlike fair isle there are no floats running at the back of the work,, making it much more flexible, stretchy and less stiff.  And unlike intarsia there are no pesky bobbins to contend with.  Instead, the pattern is made using slipped stitches, with each of hte two colours of yarn used on alternate rows of garter stitch.  

It works up really quickly and is very satisfying to knit.  Just like any other colourwork pattern, there is a chart to follow.  The trick is just getting your stitch counts right.  As always, stitch markers are your friend.  It’s definitely a technique I will try again when I want a hit of colourwork without the faff.

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I really like the textured effect the garter stitch and mosaic knitting style gives this shawl.  The two shades of grey (a lovely silver and a darker slate colour) give it a very modern look and feel.  The grey was hard work for me to knit (my mood is strongly affected by colour, and subdued colours = subdued me) but the overall look is modern and sophisticated, and I can see it going with lots of things.  This is a practical shawl that I can see myself wearing a lot this autumn.  

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The pattern is by Lisa Hannes, who has a number of patterns for shawls of this style using mosaic knitting on Ravelry.  This one is a shallow crescent, and incorporates short row shaping to create wedges of the colourwork pattern, as well as the bands of the diamond motif.  

The yarn is Travelknitter’s Silky Merino, a 50/50 silk and merino blend in a ply weight  This is the yarn I bought at Festiwool in Hitchin last year.  It’s a great yarn to work with and I’d really recommend it – perfect for projects like this and the colour range is superb.  

FO: Brina

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an FO. So here is Brina, the second in my A-Z of shawls.  
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Brina is a crescent shawl with short-row shaping, from the queen of that technique, Susanna IC. The pattern is from Twist Collective, one of my favourite pattern sites.  
Brina was the chance for me to vanquish one of my knitting demons: nupps. For the uninitiated, nupps are a particular type of bobble, common in Estonian lace knitting. They create quite a flat bobble, unlike the more pronounced bobles typical of Wastern knitting styles. They are conventionally worked by increasing stitches in one row, and then purling them together on the next WS row. Being able to do that depends on leaving your stitches loose enough that you can manipulate them on the reverse row, with the added trickiness of putting a needle through and then purling together anything up to 7 stitches. I frogged an entire lace shawl once out of frustration at not being able to master the nupps in it. So I was determined to learn how to do them.  
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I’m afraid I cheated a bit on this shawl. I used the crochet hook method. It involves finishing the nupp on the RS row, and using a hok to pull the yarn through all the loops. It may be cheating, but it worked. It’s definitely a technique I will use again. 
The yarn I’ve used here is Nimu Lingmell. It’s a lovely spatter-dyed wool/silk blend in a 4ply weight and this skein was in a 150g size that was the perfect yardage for this pattern. The colourway is called Bright Flashes of Panic, and it was part of a limited edition yarn club run by the dyer a couple of years ago. Nimu sadly don’t produce much yarn at the moment (the dyer has gone back to full-time education, which is taking up her time) but if you watch the Nimu Facebook page you will occasionally see a destash or a summer yarn club like the one where I got this yarn.  
The shawl blocked out to be a lot shallower and wider than I was expecting, but that makes it the perfect length to wind round one’s neck loosely while still displaying long tails. It’s a great extra layer for those coool early Autumn days.  

Fibre East 2016

After a gruelling few weeks, what could be better than a trip to a yarn show?  I took myself off to Fibre East with a couple of friends for the day about a week or so ago, to soak up the atmosphere.

Fibre East was a new show to me, but it’s become a regular fixture in the calendar.  It has a real focus on spinning and weaving, with some people from one of the local spinning guilds taking part in a ‘sheep to shawl’ challenge over the course of the weekend, scouring, carding, spinning and weaving freshly sheared fleece.

The Sheer Sheep Experience was there, exploring some of the UK’s native sheep breeds and the different characteristics of their coats.  (Though spot the Antipodean interloper on the far right!)

img_2406There was a shearing demonstration, using both electric clippers and traditional hand shears.  The lucky owner of the fleece, which had been auctioned earlier in the weekend, was also in the audience.

img_2396John Arbon had this beautiful antique on his stand.  It’s gloriously steampunk in design.

And there were lots of ways to indulge in some retail therapy.  I’ve noticed that the tougher the time I’ve had recently, the more outlandish my purchases are.  At Fibre East I kept being drawn to 80s style neon colours, in bright highlighter pen shades.  I mostly escaped unscathed, but there were a few I just couldn’t resist.

img_2439This pink, called Pink!, from WooSheeps, called to me from across the hall.  Paired with a more subdued charcoal grey, it will make a fantastic colourwork shawl.  And it comes in generous 150g skeins too.

img_2443I loved the neon spatter dye of For The Love Of Yarn‘s Speckled Lagoon, and picked up a couple of skeins in more muted shades.  They have some fantastic dyeing, and some beautiful shades.  I will definitely keep an eye out for them at future yarn shows.

img_2440As always, I had to pay a trip to see Lola at Third Vault Yarns.  Lola joked that I probably have most of her colourways in one base or another, but I still picked up these two beauties.  The top one (Bad Apples) will be perfect for a pair of socks I have in mind.

img_2448And I paid a trip to Sparkleduck as well.  If you like purple (and who doesn’t?!) Sparkleduck is the place to go.  These are all beautiful laceweights.

But these were probably the most unexpected purchases of my trip, and probably a measure of just how tired and run down I am.

img_2446I’ve never spun in my life.  But I came home with a sparkly top-whorl drop spindle from Spin City, and two lots of fluff.  I nearly succumbed to the one with candy-coloured unicorns, but went for the slightly subtler one with the iridescent heart-shaped confetti and glitter.

So, I guess I need to learn to spin.  Does anyone have any good resources they can point me to?

FO:  Two By Two

Recently I did something I’ve never done before: I took part in a gift swap through one of the Ravelry groups I am a member of. it was organised by Lola from Third Vault Yarns.

The rules were pretty simple.  Each of us would take it in turns to host Sadie, a knitted bunny, for two weeks.  At the end of the fortnight Sadie would get posted on to the next person in the chain with some surprise gifts.  There should be one handmade gift, which didn’t have to be knitted, and one shop-bought gift.

I received a beautiful handmade notions pouch with some stitch-markers and a colourful scarf  The pouch is large enough for a small project  and the scarf has quickly become my go-to office wrap for when the air conditioning is fierce or i just feel the need of an extra layer

Unfortunately, the package spent a week at the sorting office waiting to be collected, so I only had a week with Sadie. She missed the chance to come with me to the Sri Lanka Test Match at Lord’s, and I didn’t get to take her on a business trip to The Hague.  But we packed in some fun.

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After spending some time chilling with Baby Groot, I took Sadie to a recording of a Radio 4 comedy called the Now Show, which was doing a special for the EU referendum. The recording was at the beautiful Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any pictures of the auditorium (not allowed).

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But I did get this snap of Sadie meeting a Dalek just outside.

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And later that week Sadie helped me vote in the EU referendum itself.

But it wasn’t long before I had to wave Sadie off on her travels again, this time with gifts from me.

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My handmade gift was this pair of fingerless mitts, made in Rowan RYC Baby Alpaca DK. The pattern is Hands of Blue by Lucy Hague, a Firefly/Serenity-inspired pattern. I love the texture  created by the twisted stitches. I also popped in some handmade stitch markers and a notebook before sending Sadie on her way.

FO: Narcissa socks

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an FO.  So let’s put that right.  Here are my Narcissa Socks.


The pattern is from Knitting Wizardry, which is the UK title of a book of patterns inspired by Harry Potter.  The book was a birthday present from a friend of mine.  When I saw these socks, and that the pattern was by Rachel Coopey – one of my favourite sock knitting designers – I knew they were the first thing I wanted to make from the book.


The complicated lace pattern – and the rash of baby knitting I’ve had to do recently – means these socks took longer to make than I was hoping.  I cast them on in May last year, and finished them early in April.  (That’s nearly a whole year for a pair of socks!)

Plus they’re right and left-footed, with a column of twisted stitches running down the outside of each foot.


The yarn is a beautiful variegated skein of Posh Elinor, in a colourway called Time, Gentlemen Please.  I love the mix of bold blues, with touches of purples and browns in there too.  I’ve had it in my stash for a while, waiting for the perfect project.

Now I just need to work out what to make from the book next.

Love Your Yarn Shop Day 2016

Last Saturday was Love Your Yarn Shop day.  Last year I was away on holiday, and visited a shop in Co Sligo, Ireland.  This year, I thought I’d stay a little closer to home and visit two of my closest yarn shops, on a bit of a mini yarn crawl.

My first stop was Sharp Works in Herne Hill.  It’s a shop I go past every day on my way to work, but I’d never been inside.

It’s certainly worth stopping for a visit if you are passing – it’s exactly the kind of yarn shop I’d like to own myself.  It has an interesting mix of brand and more unusual yarns, including some things (like Navia) that are a little bit rarer in the UK. There was a whole cabinet full of commercial sock yarn and a few more unusual things.

It’s a busy little shop too – in the short time I was there lots of people popped in and out, many of them looking for help and advice with their WIPs or new projects.


When I’m visiting a yarn shop I normally like to buy something a little unusual that I haven’t been before.  As you can see here, I binged a bit on Juniper Moon Findley.  It’s a laceweight mix of merino and silk that I’ve not seen before in real life.  It has a lovely handle, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works up.

I also bought this pure silk laceweight from SilkIndian, in some pretty pink and blue shades.  I have  no idea what it will be, but it demanded to be tried.

I went straight from Sharp Works to lunch with a friend in the centre of London.  From there, I walked down to the South Bank and popped into I Knit London.  Nestled in the community of small traders on Lower Marsh, in the shadow of Waterloo Station, IKL has become a bit of a London institution.  It’s founded on the idea of community and has an alcohol licence, so it’s open late into the evening and always has a crowd of knitters hanging out on the sofas and working on their projects.

One of the best things about IKL is the huge collection of pattern books that it stocks, including a lot of US imports and rarer titles.  It’s one of the few places in London where one can be sure to pick up a copy of Vogue/Designer Knitting.  (The other, strangely, is the branch of W H Smith in Victoria Station.)


So while I was in IKL I picked up two issues of Jane Austen Knits.  It’s always an interesting collection of Regency-style pieces, inspired by the works of Jane Austen.

On the yarn side, yes that is a skein of Wollmeise on the right.  IKL is one of the few stores to stock it, and they have a pretty good selection at the moment.  I fell in love with these bright purples. On the left is a skein of Fyberspates Gleem Lace in a some slightly autumnal variegated shades.  The two in the centre are a pair of IKL’s own sea silk/silk blend in some cheerful colours.  They will become a two-coloured shawl at some point.