Tag Archives: yarn

Toft Studio and Spencer the Pug

I know I’ve been teasing you with my visit to Toft and the pug I made for Dylan for Easter.  Both my kids are nosy, so I didn’t dare put anything up anywhere they might stumble across it before Easter Sunday.  We’re safe now, so here goes the first of two posts about impossibly cute woolly animals.

Just after Christmas my friend, Julia, and I had a bit of a road trip to the Toft Studio in Warwickshire.  We headed off on the Saturday afternoon, and after a lovely pub supper, a ridiculously early night, and a full English breakfast we didn’t have to cook ourselves, we had a crisp and sunny country drive to Toft.

The setting for the Studio is impossibly bucolic. Classic English countryside, red brick houses and a beautiful building that is home to the studio, shop, and a very warm welcome.

We did two workshops.  One amigurumi and one on stripy blankets. Both were for complete beginners, and I came away confident that although I’d never crocheted anything before I could happily complete the white rat that I’d started.  I didn’t….I poached the yarn for the wee mice I made for Summer!  But I did also purchase the yarn and pattern for Spencer the Pug for my pug mad boy.

And I did complete him.

The hardest part of this project is remembering to count!  I’m not a confident enough crocheter to try and do this and watch a film.  But it’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little quiet concentration.

Dylan is so delighted with him.  Spencer has joined Margaret, the knitted pug, as his favourite companions.

Although now, obviously, he’s not called Spencer.  A new name has yet to be decided on.  But with toy pugs already named Margaret and Phillip Reeve, who knows what we’ll end up with?!

I’m feeling decidedly accomplished and planning other projects as soon as I’ve worked through some more stash.  I can, however, highly recommend Toft workshops.  And the yarn is simply sublime!  I want to knit All The Things in it now.


Twiglet Mitts

I’ve had some lovely red yarn in my stash for years.  Since my last visit to Yarndale, in fact.  Which was, according to this wise old blog, in 2013.

High time it was knitted up, I think.  Especially as I’m all about the stash busting this year.

I had planned to make it up into the lovely mitts in The Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, but they called for DK, and this was most definitely 4 ply.  (In hindsight, I had enough yarn to use double, but there we go!)

So I put the Ravelry Pattern Search feature to work, and spent a happy while looking at pretty mitten patterns.  So. Many. Pretty. Mitts.  It was a dirty job but someone had to do it!

In the end, I stuck an imaginary pin in the screen and chose Twiglet Mitts by Martine Ellis. How could I resist this all over lace pattern?

It turned out to be such a good choice.

These were a joy to knit, and are equally joyful to wear.  The colour is a deep saturated burgundy red, that goes with all my coats.   They are lighter weight than the Kindling Mitts of my last post, but perfect for warmer days when you still need something on your hands.  I added a few pattern repeats to make them longer on my wrist.  An easy enough modification.

I was always rather resistant to fingerless mitts, no matter how pretty.  But as a dog walker, unless it’s so bitterly cold that you need your fingers covered so you don’t part company with them, fingerless mitts are a joy.  Clipping leads off and on (not to mention fiddling with little plastic bags when nature calls) is so much easier.  I’m a convert!

And if you knit these mitts, I think you might be too.

Project notes:

Pattern: Twiglet Mitts
Pattern cost: Free Ravelry Downlad
Yarn:    Drops Baby Alpaca Silk
Colourway:  Red
Purchased at: Yarndale
Yarn cost:  Who knows? Who cares? 😉

The Kindling Mitts of Kindness

Still harping on about the Christmas Lurgy, even though we are racing towards the end of February, but it’s all relevant to this  story with another happy ending.

Whilst I’d been really sick the week before Christmas, it was Boxing Day when the flu took hold of The Husband.  Although born in Somerset, he’s a Northern Bloke by heritage, and made of stern, manly stuff.  For him to actually take to his bed when ill is unheard of in the 12 years we’ve been together.  For him to be in bed for nearly 4 days was like stepping into the Twilight Zone.

The kids were under the weather and I was still reeling from it, so we hunkered down and worked on getting well.  After a few days of this, though, Cabin Fever struck and my cherubs morphed into obnoxious little hellions!

By the evening they’d shredded even my last nerve and I’d sent them to bed, poured a stiff drink and turned to Instagram for solace.

Kristin (@kristinm100) had posted the most adorable pair of mittens, and they hadn’t been lost in the craziness of Instagrams algorithms!  I commented and asked if she could share the pattern name.

5 minutes later my inbox pinged and there was the pattern for the mitts.

I’ll admit to being rather overwhelmed by the kindness (although it’s not the first time Kristin has done something lovely for me.)   That little pattern, sent across the miles from Canada by the magic of the interwebs, from a woman I consider a friend, but whom I’ve never met, absolutely turned a truly shitty day into a positively magical one.

I instantly set to work to source the perfect yarn, and came up with Blacker Yarns British Classic DK knitting yarn in Grey.  This is a crisp, hardy yarn, in the fashion of Shetland wool.  The colour is the perfect grey, and whilst I wouldn’t knit this as a sweater next to my skin, for mitts it is cosy, and warm, and, I suspect, will take a bit of a beating!

Now obviously I had to wait for the yarn to arrive, it being the holidays and all, but that didn’t matter.

I was making friendship mitts.  Mitts that every time I wore them I would think of Kristin and her kindness.

I’ve got other mitts like this.  My lovely Goats of Inversnaid mitts were a yarn and pattern gift from my friend Christian (who lives considerably closer than Kristin).  And the hat that goes with them has been commandeered by Miss Button, who also gets to share the love.

It strikes me as nothing short of miraculous that such a simple act of kindness and friendship can result in bonds forged in the shared love of an age old craft.  Bonds that transcend age, race, background, education, socioeconomic status and good old fashioned geography.

That a few clicks of a keyboard can lift the spirits of someone thousands of miles away.

They say that random acts of kindness can change the world.  That you never know, if you do something small, how big an impact it can have on the recipient.

I have a pair of hand-knitted mittens that are testament to the veracity of that sentiment.

They are a happy blessing indeed.

Project notes

As an aside, this pattern is so beautifully written.  Every row is clearly detailed, so even an relatively inexperienced knitter could make these.  Those of us with a few yards of yarn under our belts can whip these up in no time, but still feel a happy sense of accomplishment.

Pattern: Kindling Mitts
Pattern cost: £3.90
Yarn:    Blacker Yarns British Classic DK
Colourway:  Grey
Purchased at: Blacker Yarns
Yarn cost:  £4.80

Zauberball Socks

Just when you thought it was safe to peep over the parapet…here are more unblogged socks from last year.

I promise this is the last of the pairs I made for the hubby, but Miss Minx has agreed to pose for photos at the weekend if we can squeeze it in.  Her socks are much cuter!

However, these aren’t too shabby, if we squint and ignore the mismatching.  This was the last ball of sock yarn in my stash and I swear I’m only buying either plain or matching stripes going forwards.

Thankfully the colours in this yarn are so lovely all is forgiven.

The fact that it makes the most perfect stitches also helps!

It now feels rather odd not to be knitting socks.  Hubby had so many that over Christmas he went all Marie Kondo on his sock drawer.  It’s now only full of socks that spark joy.  Thankfully there are plenty, which leaves me free to knit other things.

So I’m swatching for a sweater for me.

And casting on these little beauties for Miss Minx for Easter.

If you’ve never come across Little Cotton Rabbits’ delightful animals before, go, check them out.  They are just beautiful!

Project notes

Pattern: Regia 4ply sock pattern
Pattern cost: Free
Yarn:    Zauberball
Colourway:  Not a clue!
Purchased at: Deep stash!
Yarn cost:  Who knows?  Who cares? 😉

 


His Simple (Christmas) Socks

Phew.  A New Year is upon us and I’m glad.  Christmas Chez Stitches was immensely quiet, mainly due to us all contracting flu (including the grandparents) and after opening gifts and eating the feast, we all retreated to our beds.

I didn’t even have the energy to knit, so spent the time between coughing and nursing everyone, curled up on the snuggler with George and some simple embroidery.  It’s been most therapeutic and I can’t wait to share with you soon.

However, first up is the only Christmas gift I made last year.  Another pair of His Simple Socks by Elizabeth Seidle.  I love this pattern so much.

This time, although I used the same 3 ply yarn as the last pair, I knitted on 2.75mm needles, and am so happy with the result.  The fabric is soft and elastic and just all round much nicer that before.

The colours are much more subdued too. But these are for Grandad, and he has more traditional taste than Hubs!

Although, to be honest, if he hadn’t liked them as much as he did, I think they’d have had a home here, subdued colours or no!

Project notes

Pattern: His Simple Socks by Elizabeth Seidle
Pattern cost:  £3.50
Yarn:    Bergere De France Goomy 50
Colourway:  Bleu
Purchased at: John Lewis, Liverpool
Yarn cost:  £4.50/ball

 


The Most Wonderful Socks of the Year

Oooooh it’s nearly Christmas.  And whilst I’ve all but avoided the madness of making lots of gifts, I have finished all the sock yarn in my stash. More on those later, because my treat to myself for achieving this was to, finally, knit the Mind the Gap yarn from Trailing Clouds over on Etsy.

I bought this yarn at the beginning of August, following a tip from my lovely friend, Julia, who is happy to enable all the stripy sock knitting Chez Stitches.  Within minutes of her text arriving with a link to the yarn, it had been ordered.  And it’s been sitting patiently in a drawer until all less exciting yarns had been converted into socks.

I haven’t been so patient about wanting to knit it. But, it was well worth the wait!

The yarn is just delicious.  Its 75% British Blue Faced Leicester, 25% Nylon.  Crisp enough to get really nice stitch definition, yet squooshy enough to feel lovely in the hand.  It’s not remotely splitty, and slips off the needles at just the right rate (I knitted these on KnitPro Symfonie DPNs).

The colours…..oh, the colours are deeply saturated and sublime, and represent each of the colours of the different lines on the London Underground. The name of the yarn is a reference to signage and announcements on the London Underground, which extoll you to “mind the gap” between the train and the platform, and therefore avoid untimely mutilation, or worse!

Thankfully, the yarn is dyed in such a way that you get perfectly matching stripes all the way through.  Joy!

This is the first project in a long time that I was sad to finish.  I really wished that Trailing Clouds did other, equally luscious, colourways, because I’d be sure to purchase more yarn from her then.

If you like a stripy sock then I cannot recommend this yarn highly enough.  It’s just wonderful.

Hubby is overjoyed that they’re finished (to be fair, I did make him wait!).  I’m trying to get him to save them till Christmas.  I’m not sure I’ll succeed!

And speaking of Christmas…this time next week it will all be over.  So I’m ducking out until the new year.  2017 has been a bear!  Whilst we have much to be grateful for, and many blessings to count as the year bimbles to it’s close, there have been trials and tribulations this year that I am glad are behind us.

So for the rest of the month I shall be spending family time, chilling out with my loved ones, and edging slowly into a new year that I am hopeful will be gentler and lacking in drama.

Let me take this opportunity, then, to wish you and yours a peaceful and joyful Christmas, and a new year filled with happy adventures and dreams come true.

I’ll see you there!

 

 

 


Tiny Terrapin

For her birthday, we bought Miss Button a pack of bulky yarn, as she’d said she wanted to learn to knit.

I’m fairly sure I don’t need to tell you what happened to that yarn…..

Yep, I knitted it.

There are surprising few patterns out there for tweenagers that require bulky yarn.

Funny that!

But I came across this pattern for a shrug and set to.

It’s a lovely pattern and a quick and simple knit. I’ll admit it’s a tad roomy for Miss B at the moment, but that’s not a bad thing.  She’ll get lots and lots of wear out of it.  It’s a great throw-on for cooler days that don’t yet need a coat.  And, for a girl with a passion for all things flamingo, it’s just the perfect colour.

I altered the neckline so that there is a defined top and bottom to this shrug.

The yarn is squooshy and soft and reminds of that Minky fleece fabric.

Not something I’d want to wear, but a hot pink, squooshy, fleecy shrug is quite the thing when you’re 9 and 3/4s.

Project notes

Pattern: Tiny Terrapin by Sara Gresbach
Pattern cost:  $6.60
Yarn:    Rico Essentials Big
Colourway:  Neon Pink
Purchased at: And Sew What, Chorley
Yarn cost:  £3.79/ball

 


The socks of truth

As I’m working through my fabric stash, I’m also working through the yarn stash, although, thankfully, I have only a few skeins of sock yarn yet to knit. My friends are as generous with yarn as they are with fabric, and this ball was a gift from Linda last Christmas.

I was glad to get to this one, as it has obviously been sitting there for a while.  The colours are more subdued than I usually knit, but I really enjoyed the change!

I love the little pop of burnt orange, which lifts the blues and purples to another level.  I’m sure there’s a colour theory explanation for this, but I just find it a really pleasing colour combination.

The yarn is study and quite crisp in the hand. This concerned me whilst I was knitting them, fearing that they’d be uncomfortable for The Husband to wear.  But I’ve just checked with him and he assures me they are comfy, cosy and warm.  Which is pretty much what we’re looking for in a sock, right!?

They’re also machine washable, which is absolutely a must in my book.  I know the hand washable yarns are softer and totally wondrous, but socks in this house have a habit of sneaking into a shirts wash and meeting an untimely, felty end if they’re hand-wash only.

And also, joy of joys, the stripes match.  I have a pair of socks on the needles that are likely to be scrapped, because I just cannot any more with the mismatched stripes.

Project notes

Pattern: Regia 4 ply sock
Pattern cost:  Free
Yarn:    Zwerger Garn Opal
Colourway:  Moments of Truth
Purchased at: City Knits
Yarn cost:  Gift

 


Yarn Shop Day Socks

“Yarn Shop Day is an annual celebration that takes place in hundreds of yarn and haberdashery stores across the country. Pay a visit to your local participating shop on the day and take advantage of what’s on offer, ranging from free patterns, discounts and competitions to book signings, goody bags and workshops.”

Yarn Shop Day (YSD) was held this year on 6th May and shortly afterwards Instagram lit up with lovely examples of socks being knitted in the official YSD yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners.

It’s such a pretty stripe that I couldn’t resist, and immediately hunted down a ball for socks for The Hubby.

My enthusiasm didn’t stretch to getting them straight on the needles, but they’re done now and I’m very happy with them.  Funnily enough, so is The Hubs!  We all know how much that man adores a hand knitted, colourful stripe!

As a little aside, I was recently knitting socks in the car with the kids in the back.  Hubby was jovially bemoaning the fact that the socks were on the needles and not on his feet, when Miss Button piped up from the back that perhaps it was time he learned to knit his own socks so that mummy could knit other things.  She possibly had the sweater for her, that was also on the needles, in mind, but I hooted with laughter. 

She may also have had an extra treat that day…just sayin’!

I have to say that WYS make a really lovely sock yarn.  It’s soft but sturdy, with good stitch definition, and, having knit with it before, I can confirm that it washes and wears well too. I think that makes the WYS sock yarns are great value for money.  If your budget doesn’t stretch to some of the lovely artisan sock yarns out there, or, like me, you like to stick your socks in the washing machine and then over a radiator to dry (please don’t judge) then you can’t go wrong with WYS.

Also, they make stripy yarn with stripes that can be easily matched across a pair of socks.  I may have mentioned previously that this is a personal obsession bugbear preference of mine.

I’d definitely recommend this yarn!  City Knits still had stock last time I looked.

Project notes

Pattern: Regia 4 ply sock
Pattern cost:  Free
Yarn:    West Yorkshire Spinners Sock Yarn
Colourway:  Yarn Shop Day Sock Yarn – Limited Edition
Purchased at: City Knits
Yarn cost:  £7.20

 

 

 

 

 


Tin Can Knits Prairie Fire

We had a spot of sunshine at the weekend, so I grabbed the camera, the dog and the family, and, whilst we made the most of a beautiful autumn afternoon at the park at the bottom of the garden, Miss Button posed up a storm wearing her latest new sweater.

I’ve long admired Tin Can Knits for their wearable aesthetic and patterns that span a massive range of sizes.  You can knit for the whole family from some of their patterns that have a more unisex design.  I have many of their patterns in my Ravelry library, but haven’t knit one of them before.   I’m very glad that I finally got around to it!

This is Prairie Fire and comes in sizes 0-3 months to 59 inches.  Which is some seriously insane pattern grading, but makes the patterns fabulous value for money!  It’s also got the instructions for both short and long sleeves…I went long for this sweater at Miss Button’s request.

The pattern is exquisitely written.  Clear, concise instructions leave nothing to chance.  If only all patterns were this good!

Prairie Fire is a gorgeous design.  Knit from the top down, you start with the perfect neckline and the first of the tiny flame motifs.  As the sweater grows, the pattern gently swoops around to the meet at the back.

Garter stitch hems and cuffs match the neckline and add a nice counterpoint to the stocking stitch on either side of the flame pattern, and on the sleeves.

The flame pattern is simple, but, speaking from experience, it’s worth keeping an eye on the stitches as you knit, or you’ll be frogging back because you’ve missed a yarn over!

The finished sweater is just lovely.

I knitted this in an inexpensive cotton yarn from King Cole, simply because Miss B is growing out of stuff apace at the moment.  But if I were knitting this for myself (and I’ll admit I’m sorely tempted to do so) I’d be happy to splurge on the recommended Madeline Tosh, or something equally lovely, because this would surely be one of those sweaters you reach for time and again.

King Cole Cottonsoft is exactly that.  A soft, squishy cotton yarn that it delicious to knit with and is cosy with a lovely drape.  Just be aware that it pills like a beast, but I’m prepared to forgive it because it’s a beautiful colour and gentle against tender skin.

It’s perfect with jeans, as Miss B prefers to wear it.  But it would also dress up nicely with a winter skirt and boots for Saturday shopping and lunch.

Do you know, I may just be actually talking myself into knitting this for me!

Project notes:

Pattern:                           Tin Can Knits – Prairie Fire

Pattern cost:                   $7

Yarn:                               King Cole Cottonsoft DK

Colourway:                    Coral

Purchased at:                Black Sheep Wools

Total  cost:                      £15.96