Saturday, 27 April 2013

My sock is growing!

I said in my last post, a knitting book review, that I'd show you how I was getting on with knitting up my socks...

The recommended yarn is tofutsies which is way out of my budget, so I asked Abakhan if they'd supply what I needed in return for a mention. My challenge was accepted so I chose a self-striping purple and grey yarn, Aviemore along with two circular needles, a row counter and some stitch markers.

Casting on and joining with two circular needles proved to be the most difficult bit so far. I had planned to knit a fancy cuff, but following a pattern AND knitting in a new method was one challenge too many. Once I'd settled on plain rib, it became (almost) plain sailing. Knitting with two circs is ideal if you are on the move with your knitting. Each half slides safely on to the cable so no disasters as can happen with DPNs. Basically, you simply knit half the sock using each end of the SAME needle, slip those stitches on to the cable then turn the work around and do the same again with the two ends of the other needle. It's probably easier to use different colour needles, but I haven't got them confused yet (touch wood!)

The row counter was absolutely essential until I'd got accustomed to the pattern. I haven't used one for years, and was accustomed to keeping it at the end of my needle. This doesn't work out with circulars, so whilst knitting I just rested it on the pattern. I only needed stitch markers for the first couple of rounds, but they helped to get the pattern straight in my head.

I'm pleased with how the sock is coming along, I think the self-stripe draws attention to the wavy pattern rather than detracts from it. I'm also pleased (so far!) with working with two circular needles. I can't see any "ladders" as happens with DPNs sometimes. I usually avoid ladders by knitting an extra stitch or two at the end of each needle, but that tends to mean I forget where the true beginning of a row is - which would be a problem when I start the heel, my next task.

Do you knit socks? I'd be interested to hear if you have tried the 2circ method, or indeed whatever works for you.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Socks A la Carte (knitting book review)

Disclaimer: As with my other book reviews, I have been given these books free so that I can review them. My opinions are my own, as always!

I have two books in this series, the one pictured above and its sequel, Socks a la carte 2, toes up!

Both books share a great format, the designs are set out in flip charts so you can mix and match cuffs, bodies and feet. It's taken me forever to get around to this review because I just could not decide which combination to knit. I decided to start with book 1 and knit "cuff first", choosing a zigzaggy cuff (prestige) and then the wavy lines of "surfin" for the body. Both patterns are based on sets of 8 stitches, which I assume would mean the patterns would line up well.

I've only knitted socks once before (I still wear them, surprised to see I knitted them 2 years ago!)  and  was expecting to be working with double pointed needles again. I work with DPNs daily, but the writers recommend a style of knitting that was completely new to me - using two circular needles AT THE SAME TIME! eek....

There are clear instructions (although I googled a few youtube videos to help) but I had to cast on several times before I managed to get the join right. Toptip from me is not to panic. There are conflicting opinions online regarding which needle to knit from (front or back) and where (and how soon) to dangle the "resting" needle. In my opinion, as long as you're consistent it doesn't matter too much.

Once I'd got the first round knitted though, it became easier. I decided to abandon my plan for a fancy cuff and decided to stick with simple rib while I got used to knitting with the 2 circular needles, that helped too!

The flip chart gives the page numbers for each section of the design, and the patterns are helpfully laid out as both charts (where appropriate) and line by line. I prefer to avoid charts!

I discovered an error in round two, and learnt a lesson - always check online for errata! Even without the error though, this is not a book for novice knitters. I'm loving the wavy pattern though, it's not too tricky to knit while watching TV (key for me!) and I'm looking forward to trying my first sock on.

I'll show you how far I've got tomorrow... (no pressure then!)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

staying within the lines

Do you love giveaways? I must admit I sometimes think I'm addicted...but you don't win unless you enter! I was very pleased to win JordanDene's superhero ammo belt because it meant I had a perfect excuse for a spot of colouring in!

Perhaps there's a bigger question here - why do I own a steampunk colouring book? You'd have to ask my son, he gave it to me last year. And why not?

I promised some online friends a picture of me wearing it when it came, but I'm afraid I no longer fit into something designed for a 2-9 year old, so I shall be passing it along to a little friend just as soon as I've finished my picture!

You can see in JordanDene's instruction leaflet how to wear it - and actually, Jordan does make an adult sized version, but the giveaway I entered was for a childsized superhero.

Thanks Jordan - if you know someone who would love to wear their crayons instead of leaving them in the sofa for the cat to eat, why not head over to JordanDene on Etsy where she currently has 54 different styles of crayon ammo belts and much much more.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Spring Woodland

Walking in East Blean Woods today, the ground was carpeted with wood anemones

The coming of spring always makes me think of Dream by the Moody Blues

When the white eagle of the North Is flying overhead
And the browns, reds and golds of autumn 
Lie in the gutter, dead


Remember then, the summer birds 
With wings of fire flaying
Come to witness Spring's new hope 
Born of leaves decaying


miniature forest of moss
As new life will come from death
Love will come at leisure
Love of love, love of life
And giving without measure
Gives in return a wondrous yearn 
Of a promise almost seen
Live hand-in-hand 
And together we'll stand 
On the threshold of a dream....

 Love these trees, they seem to have their arms around each other!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Make do and mend

 I should probably have noticed AGES ago but the fabric-covered buttons on one of my favourite shirts were very much the worse for wear...

oh dear :-(

so I was very pleased to bump into someone on Etsy forums and discover these buttons in her shop


I'm wondering now if I should have used a neutral thread instead of red, but they're on now and they're staying on! Big thanks to 33Hearts who has a shop full of very good value quirky jewellery and supplies.