More socks

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you are fine. On my side all is well. This morning was the first really winter cold morning. I even had to scrape the ice off the windshield of my car this morning! We felt the change coming yesterday and last night sitting at my desk working I felt really cold and put on my thrummed slippers:) Today I’m wearing hand knit socks and a warm sweater so I should be ok for tonights shift at work:)

I have done a lot of knitting this last week I feel and I have a ton of things to share but I’m afraid I may end up with a post that is way too long and will just put you off from the get go… So I’m going to try and prioritise and share the rest with you later..if I’m able to control myself that is:)

So on to the knitting right away! I’m in a big sock knitting phase at the moment as you may have noticed. Last week I finished a pair of socks that I was test knitting for Dana Gervais who is a designer on Ravelry and she has a lot of wonderful sock patterns. I’m actually working on another test knit for socks for her now so all in all that makes 3 socks that I have test knit for her. The pattern for the socks I finished around last week has now been released on Ravelry so I can share the pictures with you here.

The pattern is called Robin’s Egg and I knit it on 2.25mm needles and I used my SOX base in the Strawberry Frappuccino colourway. The socks have a cabled pattern on the front and a ribbed pattern on the back of the leg. The pattern repeat is quite intuitive and so soon memorised which means they sort of fly off the needles. I really enjoyed knitting these socks and I think I might knit a second pair in the future. Here are some pictures of my finished socks.

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The socks I’m test knitting now have not yet been released so I can only show you the back side of those. I’m also using my own yarn and this time I’m using my bronze sparkle base in very autumnal colours. This pattern is also a very fun and intuitive one. The stitch pattern is much bigger (more rows) but it feels very natural or should I say logical so they too are rather quick to knit.

img_6276These colours just scream autumn I think. I really like how they work together and the finished pair will be gorgeous I’m sure. I have finished one sock and I’m on the cuff for the second at the moment.

I also cast on for a new pair of socks this week. That was due to a purchase I made on Etsy and as soon as I got the yarn, I just HAD TO CAST ON! There was no way around it! A little bit of history here first. I follow a lot of knitting podcasts both audio and video and I had seen an episode of The Periscoping sisters and one of them ( I never know which is Amy and which is Debbie) was releasing a new sock pattern and she had a collaboration with an indie dyer called Yarn Café Creations. I absolutely adored the colourway. In the kit there was one skein for the main body of the sock and a small contrasting one for heels/cuffs and toes. I knew I wouldn’t be able to buy a kit but I absolutely needed the yarn – the one for the main body I mean. And so I went online and lucky for me, there were 2 skeins of this exact yarn in stock and so I bought both! The colourway is called Ocean Mist and it is gorgeous! I wanted to knit a pair of socks of course and I needed a simple yet interesting pattern that would let the yarn shine and then I remembered The Simple Skyp socks by Adrienne Ku. I had seen those knit by Tracy of the Grocery Girls. And thats what I did. I’ve finished sock one and I’m past the heel on sock two so I think I might finish this evening.

This is such a fun pattern, a two row repeat and I really love the  look of it. The yarn like I said is gorgeous and it is also super soft. It’s a merino/nylon blend but it is a bit more “plump” than most fingering weight yarns and just a joy to knit with.

Last week I showed you the progress I was making on a cowl. A cowl I was knitting as I was trying out this new base yarn which is 50/50 merino and silk. The yarn is of course outrageously soft and a total dream to knit with. Due to the high silk content it is pricier than regular merino/nylon fingering weight yarns of course but I really think that for a special project it is totally worth it so I might look into getting some of that for the shop. I knit the cowl in simple brioche stitch and I really love the outcome. It is so soft and warm next to my neck and the patterning created by the yarn was the cherry on the cake. I dyed the skein mostly in grey but did a small portion in gold. I didn’t know how that would knit up specially as I was doing brioche but I thought maybe it would create like a block of colour on the bias. In fact it created an overall pattern and I think that is really fun.

 

I think I will call it a day here. I don’t want to take up all of your free time today:) After all, you do have knitting to do!

I’ll be back later this week with the rest of my knitting because like I said above, I have a ton to tell you about! So until next time, take care and enjoy your knitting!

This and that

Hi there how are you today? I hope you are doing good and enjoying this new week. Here in Normandy, France the weather is getting colder every day and we have had a lot of strong winds and rain. Just an all over “stay inside and knit” weather. And according to the weatherman, that’s what we will be getting all week long. I do find bad weather a bit depressing, especially when I’m working. I don’t mind so much on a Sunday when bad weather is the perfect “excuse” to just cozy up in a comfortable chair and knit all day long. I never get enough of those days.

Christmas is not far off now and we are seeing Christmas decorations being put up in the streets and my youngest is already counting down the days till Christmas. So far I have not done any Christmas gift knitting and I don’t think I will. I did knit a lot for last Christmas where I gave hat and mittens to a number of my family members. It wasn’t stressful or anything but this year I just don’t feel like it. Also I feel I just have so many things already on my needles that I really need to work on and most of those are either for myself or my kids. What about you? Are you doing Christmas gift knitting? If yes, what type of projects are you knitting or what type of projects do you usually knit as gifts? I’d love to hear from you if you care to share by leaving a comment below.

I have done lots of knitting this past week I think. I finished a pair of socks that I was test knitting and I have cast on for the second pair of test knit socks. I’m at the gusset on the first sock of this second pair. It is a two colour, slip stitch pattern and it goes quite fast but it does require some attention so I can only knit on this in the evening or weekends. It’s not the type of knitting I can do in between phone calls and just put down and pick up without further thought. Once the designer publishes her patterns I’ll be sharing the pictures with you here.

I have one finished object to share with you and that is a hat. I based it somewhat on the Sock Head Hat  but I did cast on fewer stitches and the cuff/ribbing is not as long. Also I used a colour work technique called Helix knitting. I used one colour, silver, for the ribbing and then 4 colours for the main body of the hat. To do Helix knitting you need to divide the number of stitches with the number of colours you are going to use. In my case I used 4 colours and that meant knitting each row with 4 different colours so to avoid a huge yarn tangle, one has to manage the balls of yarns and I used to move them around in the order I was using them and that worked very well. When doing Helix knitting, it is very important NOT to cross the yarns, that is when you leave one colour and pick up the next you do NOT twist the two yarns together as one would do in intarsia for example. You just have to leave the old yarn tail and pick up the new.

I find this technique really amazing because although your work is divided into sections of colour, when you look at your knitting, you could never guess it. This produces a striping effect with no jogs. What Helix knitting is, is in fact a technique that produces a spiral  of colour and I have some pictures to show you that will better explain what I mean.

helix-hat This is my finished hat. Like I said above, I used 4 colours so you see a pattern repeat of 4 colour stripes. On the very first row after the ribbing you can see the beginning of the spiral, you have some yellow and then some red.

helix-hat-with-yarnHere you can see the work from the “knitters perspective” and you can see that I’m knitting with all four colours each round.

helix-hat-yarn

I kept my yarns in a tote next to me and moved each ball away from me once I was finished knitting that particular colour and that helped me avoid a huge yarn tangle.

helix-hat-topIf you look at the crown of my hat you can clearly see the spiralling, especially apparent if you follow the red yarn.

I have seen this used in socks and I did cast on for a pair once but I think I never finished. It is a fun technique and I recommend you give it a go. Next time though, I will use fewer colours, I think 3 is a good number but then that is always going to be personal preference depending on what you are knitting and the stripe pattern you are looking for. The yarn I used for this was my Merino Light base, that is a merino singles yarn which is super soft and a joy to knit.

I’m also knitting on a simple brioche cowl. I dyed up a skein of this new base yarn that I’m trying out. It is a luxurious blend of 50/50 merino and silk. So the yarn is super soft to the touch and has a gorgeous shine to it. It is in fingering weight 400 meters per 100 gr. I dyed this up mostly grey but with a small section of the skein in gold.

Here you can see how the skein was mostly grey with just a small gold section. I didn’t want to knit this into a pair of socks, I felt it was too beautiful/precious a blend for that. I had already started on my Helix hat so I decided on doing a cowl. I didn’t have a pattern so I cast on a random number of stitches and decided I’d do this in brioche. Now I think I should have cast on fewer stitches as this is going to be quite large but not large enough for me to wrap it around my neck twice.

What was amazing to me was/is how this yarn knits up in brioche at this number of stitches. I had thought that because the gold colour was only on a small section of the skein, it would produce maybe a sort of spiralling block of colour but in fact it has created an overall pattern and not only that, but the pattern changes over the length of the cowl. I think that is really cool.

After having knit about half the yarn and realising that it was probably too large for just one wrap and not enough for two wraps, I decided I would be a good idea to decrease the stitch number and thus the cowl would be larger at the bottom hugging my shoulders and then decrease to create the neck part of the cowl which would be hugging the neck. I got out my brioche book “Knitting Fresh Brioche” by Nancy Merchant and found out how to do decreases. There were two for decreasing two stitches at a time, one right leaning and one left leaning. I followed the instructions and the decrease round itself looked fine but on the next round, where the decrease was, the stitches would become elongated and the fabric holey. It didn’t look good. So next time I did the other decrease and the same thing happened. I still continued thinking I could fix the holes afterwards, do some stitching somehow and I actually knit on for hours almost running out of yarn.  But when I looked at the cowl, all I could see were the ugly decreases. And I thought that was just no good. I was using a gorgeous yarn and the dye work was perfect and yet the only thing I saw were the flaws and I just knew I would never enjoy wearing this like this and so I decided I had to rip back. Ripping back brioche is not to be taken lightly. I decided this last night but I waited until this morning to actually rip back. Here you can see the cowl before the ripping back.

brioche-with-holes

I love the pattern created by the small gold section in the yarn. And here towards the top of the cowl/picture you can see the decreases and how they looked.

brioche-close-upAnd this is a close up and it may not look too catastrophic like this but once held up, the weight of the fabric really pulled on those stitches making the holes more apparent.

So this morning I again consulted my brioche book on how to rip back and off I went. I ripped to one row less than I wanted to rip back and I then ripped the last row slowly, a stitch at a time and picked up the stitch with a much smaller needle than I was using. That made the picking up so much easier and it really was a breeze.

But I did rip back almost half of my work and that is always sad, I always feel like I have lost so much precious knitting time but I really shouldn’t. After all I do love knitting so nothing to regret there, and I will end up with an item I will actually like and wear and that is most important. I did pause to think if I should just rip everything back and start all over again and cast on fewer stitches but decided against it. So I’m just going to continue as I was and we’ll see how it ends up being.

brioche-after-ripping-back

And here is my cowl this morning after the ripping back.

I have also started on my next Harry Potter themed knit for my oldest. If you follow my blog regularly you will know that she is a Harry Potter fan and that she asked me to knit her a large number of Harry Potter themed accessories and sweaters. So far I have done one scarf, a pair of socks and a pair of fingerless mitts. Now I have begun a pair of fair isle mittens. The pattern is called Owl Mittens by Celeste Young and can be found in the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine from Interview Press.

I’m using my own yarn in my SOX base, the red/burgundy I dyed and the white is just undyed yarn. I’m not far along but so far I like it. I do think this will take a lot of time to complete because of the patterning all over. I’m trying to relax as I knit the fair isle so that the floats stay relaxed in the back. I really hate it when the fabric is all puckered up and tight. But so far so good and my daughter loves it and can’t wait for me to finish, especially now that the weather has really cooled down. Here are some pictures for you.

owl-mit-beginning

 

This is the back of the hand and this is a lot of owls on branches, there  will be three repeats of the owl pattern, each pattern repeat is unique.

owl-mit-backThis is the palm side of the mitt and here you have spells written out. I need to be careful with my tension here also because if it is too tight, the stitches will be too small and the words won’t be clearly written out.

So this is a challenging and time consuming knit that I will work on when not doing anything else and I think I will probably need  quite some time to finish but they will be gorgeous once done.

That’s about all for today I think. This week I’ll continue to work on my test knit socks, my brioche cowl and the Harry Potter mitts. I’ll also be going to an interview with a job counsellor to help me redo my resume and maybe get a clearer picture of what types of jobs I can apply for. I do have a full time job at the moment but I work from home and I have been doing that for a number of years and I feel that a change is needed and I’d love to work outside of my home and have real colleagues again. Maybe 2017 will be a year of change for me. You never know.

Thank you for stopping by today and spending some of your precious time with me. I’ll be back next week and until then take care and enjoy your knitting:)

Lots of stripes and a test knit

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you had a nice weekend and that this new week is shaping up to be a good one. Here in France it’s been raining a lot lately so the temperatures have been quite mild. But rain is just so depressing.Or is it? Well I think that for knitters it’s not so much as we can just get cozy and knit on and enjoy being inside.

Now on to knitting and dyeing. I have been on a self striping high since I knit the pair of blue self striping socks for my daughter – I showed you pictures in my second to last post. And that inspired me to continue working on dye techniques to produce self striping yarns and I have come up with 3 different colour ways so far. One is in the shop and available for purchase, that is the Christmas is Coming colour way. The other two I have not yet listed and I’m thinking maybe I’ll offer those as “dye to order” kind of thing.

Depending on how one winds the yarn before dyeing, different results can be achieved and I have been playing with that. And I have knit 2 1/2 pairs of vanilla self striping socks since then to see how my new yarns knit up. And I love it!

Here you have the yarns. So I did one ball of self striping yarn and one small ball of contrasting yarn for heels, toes and cuffs. Just seeing the yarn like this, all wound up, makes my fingers tickle. I find self striping yarn so appealing.

And here you have the socks all knit up. I’m really pleased with the results and that the stripes are perfectly calibrated so I have been able to knit two 100% matching pairs so far and I’m currently working on the third and last one. What do you think of these colour ways? Do you knit with self striping yarns? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.

As a general rule, self striping yarns are more expensive than solid or variegated yarns because of the work involved in producing them. But a few select dyers have yet been able to build their career on those and dye exclusively self striping yarns. I’d love for these to be part of my offer but getting the word out there, that I have some, is not easy and maybe people prefer to buy only from the “Big Names”. I don’t know.

Personally, I have always liked self striping yarns but I only use them for vanilla socks. I could see myself use them for mittens though and possibly for a hat, maybe like a Sock Head Hat. I don’t often buy self striping and that’s mostly because of the price + shipping as most of the big name self striping dyers are in the US and shipping from the US to Europe is prohibitive in most cases. Funny how shipping from the US to Europe seems to be so much more expensive than shipping from Europe to the US. Not sure why that is but anyway, now that I know how to dye up a self striping yarn, I can just dye them myself:)

So since last time almost all my knitting time has been consumed by knitting these “test” socks to see how my yarn knits up. But I have also been knitting a pair of socks as a test knitter for a Ravelry designer. I’m almost done with that pair, hopefully I’ll finish today or tomorrow at the latest. I don’t think I’m allowed to show a picture just yet but I will share once she publishes the pattern. I also accepted to test knit another pair for this same designer as soon as I finish the current one so I seem to be only knitting on socks for the time being.

And speaking of test knitting, have you ever been a test knitter? I’m rather new to test knitting. So far I have test knit one cowl, a shawl and 2 pairs of socks. It is quite fun and it also means you get a free pattern which is always a bonus:)

Currently the designer Madeleine Windsor who designs under the name Kingfisher Knits, is looking for test knitters for a cowl and a beret that she has designed using one of my yarns. There are three sizes going from child to adult and this is knit using an Aran weight cash’merino yarn. This particular yarn is not in the shop at the moment but testers who want to do the test knit using my yarn are able to order the yarn directly from me and not only do they get a discount but they also get to choose their colour as I then dye the yarn to order. Once the patterns will be released I’ll be putting the yarn up in the shop for sale.

Here is a picture of the set

fragolina-beret-and-cowl

Nice don’t you think? So if you are interested in testing for her, you can get in touch with her on Ravelry, here is a link to the discussion thread she has set up for this test knit.

Other than this, not much new. I’m just working and knitting socks:) I kind of look forward to my second pair of test socks to be done and then I’ll give socks a little break I think and return to my shawl knitting or something. And oh, I almost forgot. I bought a few skeins of new and exciting new yarn bases to try out. And those are luxury bases such as merino and silk blends or a yak, merino and silk for example. So far I have only dyed one skein and that was in the 50/50 merino and silk base. it’s a fingering weight yarn so 400 meters for 100gr and boy is that a gorgeous yarn! It’s ultra soft and the silk gives the yarn a lovely sheen and I can just see that this will be something luxurious. I’m not sure what I’m going to knit with this first skein. I thought of doing socks but it feels a bit too luxurious for socks. I thought of a shawl but 400 meters is probably not enough as I like shawls to be on the bigger side. Maybe a hat, like a Sock Head Hat? Or a cowl?

What would knit with a yarn like this? If you have suggestions for a fun pattern,  please share:)

I think this is all for today. I hope you have a great week. Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with me today. I look forward to being back and sharing more of my knitting with you next week. Until then, take care and enjoy your knitting:)

The Knitting in France 2017 Birthday Game

Hi there, today’s post is a short one just to talk to you about my upcoming Birthday Game. This year I organised my first ever Knitting in France Birthday Game and it was a lot of fun and so I’m going to do a second edition for 2017.

The idea behind the game is to gift each participant a knitting/spinning/crochet themed Birthday gift. This year we were only 5 so it was easy to organise and it also meant that there was no financial strain for the participants. I’d love it if we got more participants this coming year but I would still keep the group/groups to a limited number of people just to make this more accessible for everyone.

The idea is to include a skein of yarn and/or mini skeins and/or fibre for spinning if the person is a spinner along with maybe sweets or tea, little fun accessories, maybe a paper back you have read and enjoyed or something fandom related, a pattern on Ravelry etc. For 2016 we set a target of around 20 USD per gift. You don’t have to go out and buy an expensive hand dyed skein, you could give one from your stash or make minis from your left overs etc.

Before we begin, I will send out a questionnaire to each participant. Once I get everyones answers back, I compile them into a document that I then email out to everyone. That way we will get to know each other a little better and it will help us choose what to gift each other when the time comes.

If you are interested in seeing the pictures from this years Birthday gifts to see if maybe this could be for you, you can check out the thread in my Ravelry group which you can find here

And if you want to sign up, there is another thread for that in my group as well and you can find that one here

I’d love for you to join the fun. You have until November 19th to sign up. After that I’ll be preparing the questionnaires and sending those out to the participants so we can all get ready for the game. And let me tell you, this was so much fun. I LOVED getting all those knitting and fibre related birthday gifts. The sweets were a real treat as well and just basically everything I received I loved. And it’s not just about receiving, its also about the giving and the plotting and putting together a package for a new friend. Seeing the reactions to your gift, looking at pictures of what the others have received for their birthday and so on. Just an overall fun game and I think we all enjoyed this a lot. And by the way, the DK weight socks I showed you in my last post, they were knit out of yarn that I received in this years Birthday game:)

That’s it for today. Take care and enjoy your crafting. I’ll be back soon because I have a ton of more knitting to share with you all:)

It’s all about socks

Hi there, how have you been? It’s been over 2 weeks since I last posted and it feel like forever. I had my mother and one of my nephews over from Iceland for a visit and that was such fun. I did work most of the time they were here but I still got some time with them every day of course so that was fun.

They were very lucky with the weather while they were here, we had sun and it actually even was a  little hot, around 17°C which is super warm for this time of year. Since they left however it has become abundantly clear that winter has come and is here to stay. We have had a lot of rain and chill in the air. But that’s ok, it’s winter after all.

Now I have been doing a lot of knitting and I have actually finished a lot of projects since the last time I posted, mostly socks. And I have also cast on a number of things. I always say that’s it, I’m not casting on anything new. I’m going to work through my pile of wips….but then I never do. I always see or hear of this new pattern and I can’t resist. I’m just hopeless so I guess what I should take from this is that I should never say “I’m not casting on anything new”! I’ll try to remember that.

Now on to show off my latest FOs. So some of those were already on the needles last time but are now finished.

First off are the Dragon’s Egg socks that I knit for my oldest. These are Harry Potter themed socks that were written for men so they are actually quite big even though I knit the smallest size. I also ended up playing a game of yarn chicken which I luckily won! But the thing was that the leg of the sock was so much longer than what I usually knit and I couldn’t really shorten it because of all the patterning. I think when I cast off, I had less than a meter left of yarn! Phew, that was a close call! Luckily my daughter loves her socks and that’s one more project off my Harry Potter knits.

The yarn is not my own and I have discussed that in earlier posts so if you are interested in that you can browse my latests posts for info on that.

I had also cast on for a pair of Halloween socks for my youngest using one of my own hand dyed yarns in a colorway that I dyed up specially for Halloween. I finished those in time for Halloween so that was fun. I knit them toe up, no special pattern just a regular vanilla sock.

img_6140

And then I cast on for a pair of socks for myself. I used yarn that I had gotten in this years Knitting in France Birthday Game. It was a DK weight yarn from Sirdar called Sirdar Snuggly baby bamboo. The content was 80% bamboo and 20% wool. I very rarely knit socks using DK yarn but this was fun as they were a quick knit. I had two 50gr balls, each had 95 meters/104 yards. As I’m not used to knitting socks in such a heavy yarn I was unsure if I’d have enough so I knit them toe up as that way I could just stop the cuff when I was about to be out of yarn and that worked out really nicely. Again no pattern really just from experience. I did knit a rib pattern on the leg, knit 3, purl 1 just for some added interest.

 

dk-weight-socks

Then I made a pair of fingerless mittens and clearly this was knit with Christmas in mind. I had dyed up some of my Merino Light yarn, that’s a 100% merino single ply yarn that is super soft and a joy to knit with. However as it’s single ply and no nylon content, it would not be a good choice for socks so I decided a pair of mittens would be ideal. I found a pattern for mittens online and then adapted that to what I wanted and here they are:

img_6138

And next to them you can see a mini mitten ornament. I actually stitched that first I think, or was it the other way around? I’m not sure any more but either way, one influenced the other. I think the mittens are fun and the mini mitten ornament as well. I’m thinking I’ll use it as a Christmas tree decoration.

img_6134

I bought a few of these mini wooden ornaments to stitch and I’m thinking I’ll make them into Christmas decorations.

The last project I’m going to share with you today is another pair of socks. Of course! But it’s not just ANY pair of socks! No, these are super special because they are knit using my own hand dyed yarn in a self striping color way! I dyed the yarn a while back and I only did 3 sets. Each set was made up of 2 50gr skeins so you could knit them two at a time. I kept one for myself, I gave one away in a giveaway and I think I sold the third. Anyway it had been sitting in my stash for a while and all of a sudden I thought I really should knit a pair of socks using that yarn and see how it would knit up. This yarn was a dyeing challenge for a number of reasons. First because I dyed two skeins rather than just one regular skein. This meant that I had to make sure that both skeins were exactly the same. Second because it was a self striping yarn and that means a lot more work than when dyeing any other kind of yarn. And I did not do all the stripes of the same length and I also had a number of colours rather than just to stripes of 2 or 3 colours. So a real challenge for me as a dyer.

I then decided to knit them using Susan B Andersons new sock pattern called the Smooth Operator Sock pattern which is especially designed for self striping yarns. It is basically a pattern for vanilla socks with an afterthought heel. Well, let me tell you that it worked out perfectly and I have been boasting about my success all over my social media! If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter you are bound to have seen the pictures. But if you haven’t here they are and look how PERFECTLY my two socks match! I’m so proud of my dyeing!!!!

I really love the colorway and wish I had written down how I did this so I could repeat it. Unfortunately I did not so this truly is a one of a kind colorway. I still have enough left, I think, for a pair of shorty socks for my youngest. These by the way are for her also. I knit 60 stitches on 2.25mm needle.

The success on this colorway has inspired me to work with lots of colours and I want to try my hand at more self striping colorways for the shop and I have already begun dyeing some up and I have plans for more but I’ll tell you all about that in a later post as this is beginning to be on the longer side I feel.

So I think I’ll say goodbye for now. Thank you so much for stopping  by and spending some of your time with me and my knits. I hope you have enjoyed reading and looking at my pictures and that you will come back for more later on.

I wish you all a wonderful new week and I hope you have lots of time to work on your own knits. Take care 🙂