Finish Line!

Hi everyone and hope you are all ok and safe - our world is becoming a more and more scary place with the events this week in France and heart goes out to anyone who has been affected by these horrors.

I had a wander back through some of my posts and realised that actually I have not shared any finished objects on the blog for a while.  I do tend to post them on Instagram, but its not always easy to give as much information over there (although I do love Instagram a lot!!!)

So firstly I have socks - and really I would not have described myself as a sock knitter, but recently I seem to have finished 4 pairs!!  Earlier I did post a photo on the blog about knitting two at a time socks - well in the spirit of honesty I have to tell you that I did not get on with the two at a time method and I ended up doing them one at a time!

So these first socks of the year are afterthought heels - Let's Get Stripy - and they are knitted in Knit Picks Felice.  I loved the colour way of the yarn, but I think if I use it again I might go down a needle size - I used 2.75mm which is my sock yarn needle of choice, but I would've preferred a tighter fabric so I think going down to a 2.5mm may have helped. Nevertheless these are for me and I am happy with them.  Afterthought heel was done with spare yarn and works ok, although I still manage to have to sew up little holes.....

Let's Get Stripy

Next I actually made a pair of socks to my own design from the fabulous Wollelfe gradient yarn which handily comes ready skeined in two cakes!  I wanted them to be contra matching (well thats what I call it anyway!!!) and originally I wanted to make the pattern face in different directions on each sock - but I think life is a bit too short and I really really wanted these knitted up quickly! Wore them a few times in our 'winter' cuddled up on the sofa with yet more knitting.... The yarn is absolutely fantastic to knit with and I was very pleased with the resulting Which Way Up? socks.  Again I used an afterthought heel with waste yarn.  I have notes I used to knit them, so will write up the pattern when I get a moment.

Which Way Up?

Of course the next pair had to be for Flo - who does love a hand knitted sock - and these are my Candy Cane Socks!  For this I went back to trusty Straycat socks and chose the Candy Cane colour way (hence the name above!) pretty and 'very' Flo!  With a self striping yarn I only use an afterthought heel, if I am not doing contrasting heels and toes, and this time I decided to try and use the steeking method - yes readers I actually CUT my knitting!  This is the first time I have done this in my 30 something years of knitting.....queue the shakes and a large glass of Gin to hand.

Heart stopping moment....

I have to tell you though it was great - much neater and this is now my afterthought heel of choice!

Obligatory cat and yarn photo!

Candy Cane Socks

Finally for the sock marathon I made some more self striping socks and these have to be my current favourite!  These are my Never Forget socks which are knitted in the fabulous West Yorkshire Spinners Signature Cocktail collection and the colour way is Rum Paradise.  I have always wanted to have some rainbow stripe socks and these fit the bill perfectly.  Again I did the afterthought heel with scissors and a slightly smaller glass of Gin!

During the knitting of these, the terrible events of the Orlando shooting happened and these are my small gesture to the LBGT community wherever they are in the world that I am thinking of them.

Now of course I have the entire Cocktail collection in my stash so there will be more socks to come - although I am also wondering if a stripy shawl would be possible.........

Never Forget Socks

So what else apart from Socks???  

I finished my Hitchhiker In Space and Time Shawl - - which I love.  This is such a simple pattern but so effective and its ideal for a hand dyed beauty like the Quere yarns skein I used in colour way Vincent and the Doctor - yes of course I was drawn in by the name...... (and when oh when is the next series of Doctor Who airing?????)  I see many more of these shawls in my life - perfect for stash busting and really potato chip knitting.

Hitchhiker In Space and Time

Finally for the moment I would like to share my Singapore Sling linen t-shirt.  This is made in Shibui Linen - which is a new yarn for me.  Its not terribly soft to knit with but makes a lovely fabric.  The pattern in the Silken Straw Summer Sweater by the Purl Bee.

I got the yarn by mail from A Yarn Story in Bath - my adopted LYS! I only ordered 3 skeins and if I had stuck to the pattern I would definitely not have had enough yarn!  So instead I made a number of amendments and I am so very pleased with the outcome.  This is going to be a wardrobe staple on our upcoming trip to Singapore and Malaysia (only 2 weeks away now....eeek!)  The yarn is perfect for our climate here in the UAE and there are some lovely new colour ways so I think it would be certainly be something I am going to use more in the future.

Singapore Sling Tee

 Wow so thats quite a few FO's for me - all in all since the beginning of the year I have made 12 items and that whilst working on my blanket is quite impressive for me.  A few of these I have not shared since they are designs I am working on.  I think its good sometimes to reflect on your making and realise just how creative you are even if you think you are not!

Enjoy the week!


PS even more detail on each project with a link to patterns is available on my Ravelry projects pages which I have linked to each FO :)

Top Tips for Newbie Lace Shawl Knitters

  1. Don’t panic! If you can conquer a knit and a purl stitch then you already know how to do lace!

  2. Lace does not necessarily need to be done on tiny needles with fine laceweight yarn - for a beginner it’s a good idea to think about using 4ply or even sport or DK. Whilst Laceweight can look beautiful and drape like clouds, a bright 4ply sock yarn with 4mm needles can look just as stunning. You do need circular needles though - don’t try and knit a shawl on straight needles - trust me! Ideally you want at least a 100cm cord (which should come with an interchangeable set or if you prefer fixed circulars, make sure you have some 4mm in your collection - they are really useful)

  3. For a first lace pattern, my recommendation would be to chose something which has its lace pattern on one side only eg lace pattern on one side and a purl row on the second. Are you more comfortable with a chart? For a beginner I would suggest a pattern which has charts and corresponding written instructions as I have done on the Lantern Shawl - you may find you prefer a chart or you may prefer to stick to written instructions - there is no right or wrong here!

  4. Chose your shape - for a beginner I would suggest a triangular or half moon shape with a simple border.

  5. Think carefully about your yarn - some yarn is better suited to lace than others and certainly I would not suggest you use a fine kidsilk mohair for your first lace project - it can look beautiful, but for a first timer may cause you some problems.  HOWEVER I recommend finding a skein of yarn that you absolutely love. Something a little luxe, which you are going to adore on every stitch. Find your favorite colour or a something which is really going to complement your wardrobe.

  6. Swatch……. You can practice your lace stitches over a swatch - just make it big enough for 3 or 4 repeats of the lace pattern plus a couple of edging stitches - for instance the Diamond Lace pattern on my Lantern Shawl is worked over 10 stitches and a 10 row repeat - so cast on 44 stitches and knit two stitches at each end, and 4 repeats of the pattern and knit for 20 rows.  This will give you an idea of the fabric you will create.  You might be happy with the drape, or you might wish to wash and block it - but whichever way it’s a great way to practice.

  7. Stitch markers - if you feel comfortable with stitch markers these can be a great way of identifying pattern repeats and centre stitches.  My first lace shawl was Ishbel by Ysolda Teague and I can tell you I had so many stitch markers my knitting positively jangled!  I tend not to use them so much now, but they can be a lifesaver for beginners or at least in the first few rows until you get comfortable with the pattern.

  8. Speaking of lifesavers…...Lifelines!  Yes these are a good idea - too many times I have had to tink back 4 rows of over 200 stitches and kicked myself hard for not having a lifeline!  The idea is to get to a point to which you can rip back to confidently and re-start from there, so at the beginning of a section for instance. There are a number of ways to put in a lifeline, but my favorite is to use the little holes where my interchangeable needles are fixed and slip through some dental floss and just knit along and the lifeline will go in behind you .  You can use cotton or other yarn, but I find the floss is easier to work with and also smells nice!  If you don’t have interchangeable needles with a hole then you can easily wait until the end of a row and thread through with a darning needle.

  9. To block is to bloom…… there have been a few occasions where I have finished knitting a laceweight shawl and to be frank it’s looked like an old rag!  Soak your shawl, roll in a towel to get out the excess water and pin out very carefully, making sure to pin out points if you have or like them.  I have recently bought some blocking wires and they have been great for getting a really even edge.  Blocking is not a quick job - get a cup of tea - your favorite playlist on Spotify and then take your time - it really is worth it in the end!

    My Swallowtail shawl looked pretty awful in the knitting!

    But look how it bloomed!

  10. Show Off!  There is nothing better to show off to your non knitting friends and family than a lace shawl - they cannot help but be impressed! Then cast on the next one, because my friend you are now a shawl knitter and it’s addictive!

Lantern Shawl is Back!

So I am delighted to present the Lantern Shawl!

If you go back through many many posts on this blog you will find that way back when I was asked by Jocelyn of Dubai Knits to put together a design which would reflect the Lanterns of the Philippine Lantern Festivals.

I worked on that thought and came up with the Lantern Shawl - all ready to go to Jocelyn to be released with her funky yarn for the December Dubai Knits yarn club.

However disaster struck and I knocked my Mac onto the floor (we have marble floors here in the UAE!!) and managed to smash the hard drive!  I lost everything because my Time Machine also decided to crash, so I ended up having to re-write the pattern in some haste!

For me it was never quite perfect and indeed those people who knitted it had some issues with the edging and whilst there are some lovely projects already on Ravelry, I was not happy.

Roll on a few years and I have FINALLY re-written the pattern into a format which I am happy with. I have amended the edging to make it more user friendly and have now knitted the Lantern Shawl 3 times!

The last and best version is in Madelinetosh Light in the colour way Kitten and I am very pleased with it.  The drape of the yarn is simply gorgeous and the colour sways between a pale brown and a browny grey depending on how it catches the light!

So to celebrate the re-release I am going to make the new revised Lantern Shawl pattern FREE for the first 48 hours!  Please use the code LANTERN0716 when checking out on Ravelry. After the initial 48 hours it will be available for $5.

For those who have already downloaded the original version, I will be sending out an update and I hope that if anyone has started to knit and then frogged because of the edging issues that you might try again!

Never tried lace before? Then come back to my next blog post where I will share some tips and tricks!

Exciting Times

I am very happy to announce that finally my Lantern Shawl pattern will be re-released tomorrow!

I have worked hard on this to make it the best it can be and iron out the errors - ok they were only small but they bugged me!

Its re-written to enable knitters to follow along easily with lots of stitch counts and details row by row.

Come back and visit tomorrow and you can get the Coupon Code which will be available for 48 hours to download the pattern for free.

If you have already downloaded the original version I will be sending you the replacement pattern for free!

I am so grateful for the support of the knitting community who have given me the push up the backside to get me confident enough to put my designs back out there!!