Episode 25: Choose Your Weapon! How to Choose Needles for Sock Knitting

yarnandpointysticks:

My latest podcast segment with Jo is now ready for your listening pleasure. Hope you enjoy the show. I will be back later this week with more details to help you pick the best sock needles on the blog. Happy Knitting. Clare x

Originally posted on Shinybees:

I heart ChiaoGoo.

I heart ChiaoGoo.

Following on from the last episode, where we welcomed Clare Devine to talk about how to choose yarn for knitting socks, this episode sees us explore the next big life knitting question: which needles? Starting off the episode is a little bit of chat about recent travels, then there is a review of Msanzi: South Africa on my Needles from Sally Cameron. We have a giveaway from a fab new indie dyer, Coach House Yarns, before we get into all things needle related.

Introduction

I recently went down south on holiday (sort of!) for Sanimal to be baptised at the church I used to go to when I was at school. The average speed cameras on the A9 have recently been activated between Inverness and Dunblane which is a total cash cow in my opinion, thought up by someone who never uses that road! Coupled with the…

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Meet the Designer #giftalong2014

The Ravelry #giftalong2014 is well underway and today I have another fabulous interview with one of the designers who is participating. I chatted to Robynn Weldon, a fellow South African now living in Europe about her inspiration, designs and dream knitting. Hope you enjoy the interview.

Robynn has some stylish yet practical knits in her Ravelry store. I really like the Wraparound Mitts, the have an interesting construction and suit a slightly variegated yarn perfectly.

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Another of my favourites is the matching pair of mitts and scarf / cowl / headband / ear warmer aka the “perfect accessory for keeping you warm on a run”. The Runaround Loop was designed because Robynn enjoys running. I enjoy a little jog now and again and cycle everywhere, so this is the perfect accessory for me. The matching Runaround Mitts are the perfect companion to the Runaround Loop.

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CD: Where do you find your design inspiration?

RW: Lack of ideas has never been the problem, only lack of time to execute them. All the more so now I have two small kids. The time factor means that regardless of what exotic or fashion-forward concepts you might find in my notebook, the ideas that make it to the top of the queue tend to be small, needful things (either for myself or my children); things that are fun to make, useful and well suited to stash diving! Necessity, in my case, is the mother of inspiration.

CD: What types of yarn do you love to work with? I would love to know about weights, fibre types, finishes, dyeing methods etc.

RW: I used to run a luxury knitting shop (Purlescence.co.uk) and as you might imagine, came away with an enviable stash of hand-dyed yarn. The sensual element of knitting has always been very important to me – I can’t be bothered to work with yarn I don’t love to handle and look at. But I also don’t want to waste time on something that’s going to fall apart quickly. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years learning about yarn (I even teach a workshop about it) and have formed some pretty strong preferences: while I love natural fibres, everything from linen to merino, I won’t buy singles or pure cashmere (both too pill-y and fragile!). My absolute favourite yarn is Posh Yarn Natasha (a camel/silk blend, amazing for lace) – Posh colours are incomparable, but I’m also a big fan of Sweet Georgia. As for weights, I favour anything between regular laceweight (not cobweb) and DK. I love the way lighter fabrics move, compared with chunkier weights, and it helps that they don’t add too much bulk to my frame.

CD: What is your favourite knitting technique?

RW: I really enjoy lace stitches. Cables are awesome too, textured stitches are fun, but lace is very satisfying to me.

CD: What is your most treasured or most useful knitting tool?

RW: A girl can never have enough tape measures.

CD: What is your favourite quick gift knit pattern, and why?

RW: I don’t knit a lot of gifts. You have to be really deserving to get a knit from me, and I’ll put a lot of thought into choosing something that is just your style. But I’ve been very tempted by some of the quirkier patterns in the GAL – Platypus by Selina S, or the Neck Kraken by Annie Watts! They would be so fun to gift.

CD: If someone knitted you a gift what would you love to receive?

RW: Oh, a lovely wide scarf! Scarves are awesome, and there are so many fantastic patterns, but I don’t knit a lot of them. Maybe because I have a short attention span and scarves are so looooong.

CD: Any tips for those taking part in the GAL this year?

RW: Remember gifts for yourself count too. You know the recipient will appreciate it, and they’re surely deserving!

CD: Will you be casting anything on for the #giftalong2014?

RW: Hell yes. I’ve bought eight patterns (!) – you can see which ones on my blog – and while I’m obviously not going to be knitting all of them by GAL end, I’m hoping to have a good try. One of them is your own Jozi. I love socks that make good use of handpainted yarn, and as a South African myself, how could I resist?

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CD: If someone gave you a two week knitting holiday (24 / 7 knitting and relaxing time) what projects, patterns and yarn would you pack in your bags?

RW: What a magnificent fantasy… I long for uninterrupted time for proper, big projects and delicious lace, so I’d pack Marnie MacLean’s Arctium shawl, with a gorgeous skein of Natasha from my stash. But best of all I’d have time to work on my own hibernating Big Designs: a cowl-neck pullover in some fabulous grey alpaca/silk from The Uncommon Thread, and an oversized, richly textured fine-gauge tunic. I think Holst Garn’s Coast would be perfect for that.

Even for a fantasy, that’s more knitting than I could possibly accomplish in two weeks, but I make it a firm rule never to go away with fewer than three projects. Say one craps out, one goes faster than you think, and then what?

You can find Robynn as @woollythinker on Twitter and Pinterest, and her website is studio-miranda.com.

I hope you enjoyed this interview. Are you taking part in the #giftalong2014? There are so many wonderful prizes to be won and a great chatty knit along happening over in the Ravelry group. Pop over and say hi. 

Happy knitting,

Clare

My Favourite Commercial Sock Yarns

Earlier this week I wrote about my favourite indy dyed sock yarns. I love hand dyed yarn and relish the opportunity to knit with skeins that have been lovingly and masterfully dyed by talented creative individuals. However, this does not mean that commercial mill dyed yarns do not have a place in my sock knitting adventures. There are some fabulous yarn shops online and many beautiful bricks and mortar shops that stock a wide range of yarn produced on a commercial scale.

Here are a selection of my favourite mill dyed yarns.

Araucania Ranco. 75% Wool / 25% Polyamide, with 344m to 100g. These yarns are produced in Chile and come in solids and variegated. The colours are beautiful and the yarn is lovely to work with. It wears and washes well too, I have a very well loved pair of socks in this base.

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Manos Del Uruguay Alegria. 75% Wool / 25% Polyamide, with a generous 400m to 100g. The colours of this yarn are out of this world amazing. Their bright and bold colours are the ones that capture my heart. Where better to let your colour choices run wild than on your feet? They do have some more subdued yarns too if you prefer a more toned down sock knitting experience.

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Schoppel Wolle Crazy Zauberball75% Wool / 25% Polyamide, with a generous 400m to 100g. Two strands of dyed yarn and twisted together to bring you a variegated striping effect. I love this stuff. It is fabulous colourful sock yarn. It also comes in a heavier weight for thicker and quicker socks. Some of the colour combinations are very bright but others are more subdued (and still fantastic). I have a pair of vanilla top down socks on the needles at the moment in the black and white colourway.

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Regia 4 ply. This is the king of commercial sock yarn in my book. 75% wool / 25% nylon, machine washable and with a 10 year guarantee. This stuff is made to last. It is also soft and lovely to work with, and the best bit … it comes in a ridiculously wide range of colours from neutrals to neons and everything in-between. They also produce the cute itty bitty My First Regia, a 25g ball. These are perfect for contrasting heels and toes or baby socks.

Regia Design Line comes in a fantastic range of colours and stripes as you knit. You can buy it in 50g balls. At under a fiver each I think this is great value sock yarn. Don’t forget it lasts “forever”, well it has a ten year guarantee which is good enough for me.

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Rowan Fine Art. 45% Wool 20% Mohair 25% Polyamide 10% Silk with 400m to 100g this luxurious blend is made in my home country, South Africa. The Mohair and Polyamide serve to strengthen the Merino (South African Merino is deliciously soft), the silk pops in to add a touch of extra luxury. The yarn comes in a stunning range of hand painted colours. Rachel Coopey has a fantastic book of socks designed with this yarn. Her designs are brilliantly put together and her patterns are clear and easy to follow. I definitely recommend taking a look.

Last, but certainly not least is one of my current favourite workhorse yarns. West Yorkshire Spinners have been extending their range recently and I love what they are doing. The new Signature 4ply range is perfect for socks and very well priced. It comes in a great range of colours and a good selection of variegated / self patterning yarns. The wool / nylon blend is perfect for socks. Their DK and Aran weight yarn would also be good for thicker socks.

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What is your favourite brand of commercial / mill dyed sock yarn? I would love to hear from you about what you have on your needles at the moment.

Don’t forget to tune into the latest episode of the Shinybees podcast later tonight for the next segment of “Sock Surgery” where Jo, Kate and I chat about choosing needles.

Happy Knitting.

Clare

x

PS: Many of the photographs in this post have been taken from LoveKnitting.com and Tangled-Yarn.co.ukI used these two shops because I think they are great online retailers and they have fabulous photos and a good range of sock yarns. This is not a sponsored post, just me (as usual) giving a shout out for the yarn and fibre products I love.

#giftalong2014 Are You Taking Part?

The discount period for the #giftalong2014 might be over now but the fun is only just beginning over in the knit-along boards. There is so much activity sometimes it is hard to keep up. I love watching everyones projects take shape. Have you joined the group on Ravelry yet? Click here for all the details. 

Remember there are lots of prizes to be won and some exciting games to play in the knit-along. All paid for patterns from participating designers are eligible for knit-along entries.

The knit-along lasts until the 31st December at midnight EST. 

Are you taking part? What are you knitting?

I would love to hear about your general knitting adventures. 

I have some deadline knitting to get out of the way but I am itching to cast on some mitts by Laura Aylor called Spiced Cocoa (I might have mentioned these mitts a few times recently, I am rather obsessed with them). I also have my eye on a Artisan by Elizabeth Felgate, a squishy garter stitch jumper (although I doubt that will be finished by the end of December).

Copyright Laura Aylor

Spiced Cocoa. Copyright Laura Aylor

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I am yet to decide on what I am gift knitting for this year. I think I will be keeping it very low key as I have lots of deadline knitting to do too. Definitely a hat for the little one in my life and something for my mom (she is very knit worthy) – maybe I will make some Spiced Cocoa Mitts for her too.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Happy Knitting.

Clare

x

My Top 10 “Hands and Feet” Knits #giftalong2014

Hope your week is going well. The #giftalong2014 is going very well on Ravelry and lots of folk are already finishing their WIPS (works in progress) and posting them in the forums. Pop over and have a look, and while you are there you might want to join in with the chatter in the threads.

Today I have some of my favourite knits for keeping hands and feet warm.

My personal knitting time is limited these days but I definitely want to knit myself these mitts Spiced Cocoa by Laura Aylor. I love the angle created by the fabric on the Spiced Cocoa mitts. I have the perfect Rainbow Heirloom yarn for these in my stash.

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I love the slightly unusual combination of garter stitch and cables featured in Side by Side by Katya Frankel

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Jenise Reid is a very talented design and the clever construction of these mitts is testament to her thoughtful design process. Pull Mitts are knitted on the bias and fit beautifully. They are definitely on my “to-knit” list.

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I am a great admirer of colourwork and these mittens really struck a chord with me. I am an African girl at heart, and no matter how long I am away from my home there is something majestic about the long neck of a giraffe and the idea of an African sunset that will always capture my imagination. Giraffes at Sunset by Erica Mount really are a stunning example of colourwork. I love them.

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Strong lines created by twisted stitches and rib always draw me in. Sunshine Fingerless Mitts by Kate Bostwick are a stunning example of the structural beauty that these stitches produce.

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Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade has come up with another corker here. Her grey and yellow combo gets me every single time. These long length Global Nomad Handwarmers go with the cowl I featured the other day. I love how they can fold down or be pulled up over your fingers. A great, quick knit.

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Now that you have warm feet, let’s turn our attention to your feet.

Nobody likes cold feet.

I love socks, there is no denying that I am a sock fan. There are a few designers who constantly impress me with their design skills and Hunter Hammersen is one of them. She is a sock genius, her designs are majestic in their beauty. Many are not for the faint hearted, they are certainly not “mindless TV knitting” but they deliver on an aesthetic level like very few other designers do. Here are three of my favourites that are discounted for the #giftalong2014.

Crocus Vernus

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Chrysanthemum Frutescens

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Vanessa Antiopa

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Hunter also has these super cute little slippers, Quiescent, that I am very tempted to knit for myself after I make my all time favorite slippers by Jenise Reid.

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Here are those Jenise Reid slippers that have captured my heart, Persian Curled Toes Slippers. Unusual and just absolutely brilliant. I have bought the pattern and just need some free time to get started.

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I am not usually a leg warmer person but now that I live in the cold northern hemisphere I think I could become one. This cute pair by Lee Meredith could certainly sway me.  Twisted Ankles Lee Meredith. Worked in bulky yarn they must be a very quick knit. I love that they button behind your legs, perfect for whipping on and off. I bet they are great for cycling (hmmmm I think I should cast some of these on for my daily bike rides in Edinburgh).

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Last, but certainly not least are a fabulous pair of socks Rainbow Pipes and Linen Stitch Socks by Aurelie Colas. These rainbow socks really make me smile. I love how Aurelie has incorporated linen stitch and the combination of grey and rainbow colours couldn’t fail to brighten your day.

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This was bound to be a bumper post. There are so many wonderful designs out there at the moment. Mittens, fingerless gloves, socks and slippers make perfect gifts for other (and for yourself). What are you waiting for – cast on!

Don’t forget the #giftalong2014 sale ends at midnight (EST) tomorrow 21st November. Until then a fantastic selection of patterns are 25%.

I have 19 designs featured in the discount promotion. Including Edina, the fingerless mitts and Maryfield, the cute lace cuffs from the Head to Toe collection. 

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Have a wonderful Friday.

Happy knitting,

Clare

 

Earl Grey (new design) and a free pattern

Hi there,

The week is moving swiftly along and I thought I would drop past on this lovely Wednesday to share two new releases with you.

The first is my new hat pattern, Earl Grey. Designed for a cable workshop I instantly fell in love with the cables (and pom pom opportunity) and knew I needed to release this as a new hat pattern.

Earl Grey works up quickly in squishy aran weight yarn, resulting in the perfect cabled hat. Great for gift knitting and equally good for keeping your head toasty this winter.

Earl Grey_Hat_Brigantia1 copy_with text

 The pattern is 50% off until midnight 23rd November with the code “blog50″.

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Jess made a fabulous sample in her new Super Sheep Aran base. We are calling this one ‘mint tea’ and look at that pom pom! We have so much love for the pom pom at the moment.

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We were even joined by a beautiful rainbow when I went to take pictures of Jess in her hat this morning.

Earl Grey_Hat_GHD_Selkie01

 

My second release is a quick and easy freebie. This pattern is used in one of the workshops I teach at Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh and I wanted to share it with all my lovely blog readers.

Toasty. The perfect chunky cowl. 

Download your copy of Toasty for free, here.

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Hope you have a wonderful day.

Happy knitting,

Clare

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My Favourite Yarns for Socks

Last week Jo from the Shinybees Podcast and I chatted to Kate about how to choose the best your for your sock knitting adventures. If you haven’t already listened to the podcast pop over to Jo’s blog and catch up with all the latest “Sock Surgery” news. 

I thought it might be handy to give you a little round up of some of my all time favourite sock yarns. Today I am looking at hand dyed yarns and later this week I will be doing a round up of mill dyed yarns.

In alphabetical order, because it is too hard to pick a favourite, favourite from all this amazing yarn.

Feast your eyes on these hand dyed beauties …

Eden Cottage Yarns: Victoria from Eden Cottage Yarns is a master dyer and her sophisticated yarns have levels of depth rarely seen in hand dyed yarns. I am always astounded by how much she packs into a single skein while maintaining a serene quality to the colourways. Hayton 4ply is everything you need in a sock base, Merino and Cashmere to envelope your luxurious softness with a touch of nylon for strength. The stunning colours are perfect showing off detailed stitch patterns and cables. Alternatively knit something plain and simple letting the colour shine through in all it’s glory.

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Kettle Yarn Company: Linda hails from Canada but now lives in the South of England. She originally came to the UK for her MA in Painting and you can see the artists coloursense in her amazing colour range. She has some really soft and silky luxurious fibres (great for shawls not socks) and then a fabulous high twist Blue Face Leicester. Twist is perfect for luxurious yet durable socks. It comes in a wide range of colours from muted classics like Old Smoke to gorgeous brights like Fiery Flamingo. She has a fantastic “Wear Chart” that grades each of her bases according to how much “shaving” it will require. Take a look, it’s genius. Her BFL base comes in 50g and 100g skeins. The smaller skeins are perfect for contrasting heels and toes, stripes or colourwork.

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Ginger’s Hand Dyed: Jess is from Oregon but now calls Edinburgh her home. She is also the owner of my fabulous local yarn shop, Ginger Twist Studio here in Edinburgh. It is no secret that I love her line of hand dyed yarn. I have worked with her on a number of exciting projects and we have more coming up in the new year. I have just finished designing a pair of socks in her Sheepish Sock base and had to include it in this list. A blend of Blue Faced Leicester and Nylon you get the best of both worlds here. The stunning sheen and softness of BFL and the added durability of nylon. A great all round sock yarn.

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Knitting Goddess - Joy from The Knitting Goddess produces some of the best brights and she has one of my favourite sock yarns. Britsock – a custom spin, just for The Knitting Goddess is made up of 40% BFL, 20% Wensleydale, 20% Alpaca and 20% Nylon. I was sent a skein of this for Cuboid my design that featured in The Knitter a while ago. It has a fuzzy halo and is pure bliss to work with. It also comes in a three fantastic ranges, variegated, semi-solid and self-striping.

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Ripples Craft - Helen from Ripples Craft, originally from South Africa now lives in the north of Scotland. Her yarn is often inspired by the breathtaking landscape that surrounds her and she produces some spectacular colourways as part of her Assynt Storms series. Her Reliable Sock base does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a great reliable sock base, perfect for socks, soft (thanks to the 75% Merino) and durable (that will be the 25% nylon). She has great colourways, I love the rich Assynt Peat and the spectacular variegated Assynt Storm colourways. Remember to choose your pattern carefully when using brightly coloured variegated yarns. You want yarn and pattern to work together and not against each other.

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There you have it folks, some of my favourite British based hand dyed yarns. There are, of course, many more hand dyers that I love but these are my current favourites for socks that are easily accessible to me in the UK.

Do you have a favourite sock yarn? I would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments. I am always up for learning about new sock yarns and hand dyers.

Happy Knitting,

Clare

x

Meet the Designer #giftalong2014

It is always nice to meet the designers behind the beautifully crafted items we admire on Ravelry.

As part of the Ravelry Giftalong 2014 I have been chatting to Kimberly Golynskiy from 80skeins. 

Copyright 80skeins. Used with permission.

Copyright 80skeins. Used with permission.

She has many wonderful designs and a spectaular blog. Including one of the best blog features I have seen in ages: Around the World in 80 Skeins. Kimberley has been interviewing designers from the far flung corners of our wonderful planet. Having a wandering spirit this really appealed to me. There are interviews with designers from South Korea, Kuwait, Guatemala, Brazil and South Africa (where she incidentally interviewed my very good friend Sally Cameron aka Pink Hair Girl).

I dropped Kimberley a series of questions to get to know her a little better and this is what she had to say.

CD: Where do you find your design inspiration?

KG: I get excited about a lot of random stuff that ends up as designs. Sometimes it’s movies/shows like my Firefly/Serenity Series, sometimes it’s amazing things in the universe like my Science is Beautiful series, and most recently I’m finding inspiration from the amazing designers all over the globe. I’ve been working on a project called Around the World in 80 Skeins – a worldwide blog tour talking to fiber arts designers about how where they live inspires creation.

CD: What types of yarn do you love to work with? I would love to know about weights, fibre types, finishes, dyeing methods etc. 

KG: I really love working with fingering weight yarn. Everything always takes way longer to make, but it always drapes and fits so much nicer in fingering than heavier weights. I love alpaca and merino, and have found quite a few superwashes that are really lovely. I prefer solids and tonals and love love love gradients! My favorite workhorse yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal (when I’m on a budget) and Manos del Uruguay Fino (when it’s my birthday and I can splurge). I also recently worked with a new independent dyer called Tipsy Sheep Yarns and her baby alpaca/silk/cashmere lace weight yarn felt like butter!

CD: What is your favourite knitting technique? 

KG: I enjoy lace knitting because of how shabby it looks until it’s all done and blocked. I especially love lace with beads, because nothing makes a beautiful shawl better than a whole lot of sparkles!

CD: What is your most treasured or most useful knitting tool?

KG: I have a counter ring that my husband got for me that is awesome! I think it’s actual purpose is for some time of gaming, but it works perfectly for counting rows – and it’s blue and pretty. =)

CD: What is your favourite quick gift knit pattern, and why? 

KG: I have a couple hats that knit up really quickly and are super fun to wear. My hair is currently growing out from a pixie cut, so the Portland Saturday Market hat has been a life saver to let me go out in public on “mullet-y” days. Seismography is also a great gift because you can use up scraps and it still looks great.

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CD: If someone knitted you a gift what would you love to receive? 

KG: I would love a dress or a coat made with really thin yarn so it fits beautifully. I adore the idea of knitted full-body garments, but I think I would go mad making something so large.

CD: Any tips for those taking part in the GAL this year? 

KG: If you’re taking part in the GAL to knock out all of your holiday knitting, have a plan. Make a list of who you are knitting for, look through the Pinterest boards or the designer pages to find the perfect patterns, then start knitting/crocheting! I’ve recently started Bullet Journaling and it’s been a lifesaver for keeping track of everything I need to do. I’m definitely using it to keep my holiday gifting in order!

CD: Will you be casting anything on for the #giftalong2014? 

KG: I went through all 8 of the Pinterest boards and pinned 144 designs I love! I wish I could make my hands work faster because I want to knit them all. I plan to send the boards to my family and tell them to pick their gifts and that’s how I’ll decide what to knit in the GAL.

CD: If someone gave you a two week knitting holiday (24 / 7 knitting and relaxing time) what projects, patterns and yarn would you pack in your bags?

KG: A two week knitting holiday sounds divine! I would have to knit someone else’s design so I could shut my brain off and just enjoy the relaxation of knitting. I’d love to have the time to make a couple of sweaters like Ease or a Phoenix Sweater.

Here are some of the other designs Kimberley has in her Ravelry shop that have “Caught My Eye”. Don’t forget all the designs in the #giftalong2014 bundle are 25% off until Friday 21st November at midnight EST. 

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Hope you enjoyed this interview. I have more interviews and pattern round ups coming up in the next week. As well as a special feature on my favourite sock yarns.

Happy knitting,

Clare

x

My Top 10 “Neck Knits” #giftalong2014

In keeping with my #giftalong2014 theme I have selected some of my favourite “neck knits”. Ravelry is bursting with amazing cowls, shawls and scarves. Here are my top ten from the discounted patterns in this years Indy giftalong.

I love cables and this unusual cable style is not something I have seen around much. Shannon Cook pairs the sophisticated cable with some stunning grey yarn. Lansbury, the perfect cowl is born.

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I used to knit more shawls than socks, even though I now find myself working on socks more than shawls I still have a soft spot for a good shawl pattern.

Someday by Hanna Maciejewska uses two skeins of fingering weight. Sideways, garter stitch and the contrasting border. This looks like it would be a great knit, easy but not boring and the finished shape is simply stunning.

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Hrim by Bristol Ivy is one of my favourite shawl patterns of the moment. I love the shape, the combination of the yarn weights and textures. I am planning on knitting one of these shawls for myself. I need to choose the yarn from my stash but I am hoping to use some silk from Dye for Yarn, I just need to decide what to mix it with. The other shawls in the Frost Fair collection are also on my “to knit” list. If you had not already gathered Bristol Ivy can do no wrong in my knitting world at the moment.

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I am not always a bit beaded shawl fan. I like simple clean lines and unfussy details. The Sunburst Shawl by Helen Stewart ticks all these boxes. The shape is beautiful, a wide crescent shaped shawl is very practical and flattering at the same time. Helen has added the perfect amount of sparkle here with beaded accents that give glitz and glamour without being over the top. The yarn she has chosen is also amazing, that subtle grey in a base I know well by Kettle Yarn Co. Shawl perfection!

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Chunky shawls are not the norm and I think chunky lace is often difficult to get right. Elizabeth Felgate has nailed it here though. Three balls of fabulous New Lanark Chunky and you have a warm and cosy wrap for the winter. It is just what I need to keep me warm sitting at my desk this winter. The chunky yarn would also make a fabulously quick gift knit. 

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Garter stitch, stripes and unusual constructions. These two designs by Laura Aylor are quirky and fun. I love the concepts and squishy garter stitch always warms my heart.

Tuck wraps around your neck and ties at the back, meaning you can control the width easily and it will never mess up your hair.

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Hot Tea. Two layers of garter stitch! There is nothing more to add here. Two layers of garter stitch! (I had to repeat it because it makes me so excited). Squishy, stretchy and warm. Keep it plain and simple or go wild with stripes. Perfect for using up leftovers.

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Staying on the theme of textured stitches creating stunning cowls. I stumbled across this one by Galzanne Knits and instantly fell in love. The combination of slipped stitch rib and brioche stitch in Simply A Cowl work so well together.

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Another smorgasbord of texture in a cowl is Global Nomad, another fantastic knit by Helen Stewart. I won’t lie the grey and yellow drew me in, this is my favourite colour combination at the moment. The mixtures of textures and eyelets is a delight to the eye. Each panel works with the other while standing out on it’s own. I also love that is is worked in two colours, so many opportunities to play with colour combinations. Helen did a great podcast about Colour Theory recently, I found it really interesting.  

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Last, but certainly not least. A brilliant shawl by the very talented Jennifer Dassau. Rondelay has been on my knitting needles twice. I made one for my mother in law and then had to make another for myself. Rondelay is worked using short rows and comes from a series of short row shawl that are utterly brilliant. I highly recommend a look at Jennifer’s patterns.

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Don’t forget I also have a number of patterns in the #giftalong sale. You can find my 19 discounted patterns here. 

Brunswick is not only perfect for summer weather. It would also make a fabulous addition to your festive season party outfit. I am working on a heavier weight version of this pattern to be released in the coming weeks. If you buy the 4ply version now you will automatically get the heavier weight version when it is released.

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Happy knitting,

Clare

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My Top 10 Hats #giftalong2014

During the Ravelry GAL 2014 I will be running a series of blog posts featuring my favourite patterns. As you know I love searching through Ravelry to find interesting designs to share with you. I have selected patterns for all sorts of reasons, some are quick, some are quirky and some have interesting constructions. Others are just beautiful designs that I wanted to share.

First up the hat. I do love a good hat and there are so many fantastic designs to choose from on Ravelry. These are some of my favourite in the Indy GAL (#giftalong2014).

I really love the work that Alex Tinsley does, she has a style that resonates with me and I am often drawn to her patterns, hence why there are three hats in my favourites today. I kind of cheated and included three hats but only counted them as one in my top ten. There are just so many amazing hats to choose from. 

Zam Hat, a fun colourwork hat worked in worsted weight yarn. It also has a matching cowl. You can’t go wrong with some simple colourwork and this design is perfect for bold colour combinations.

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Fooler a Faker, a brioche free version of Hertbreaker (another of her designs) this hat looks super squishy and great fun to knit. It also has a pom pom (I was instantly sold at the pom pom)

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Finally Bivouac, a beautifully simple design that I have knitted before (I was actually wearing it just this morning). I love the striking line of eyelets and the slight slouch. This hat is a firm favourite.

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Kate Bostwick hails from Calgary where I visited earlier this year. I had a great time in the Rockies and can really appreciate that you need a good hat when the winter comes. I actually think you probably need multiple hats all at once. Her hat Cedar Shakes comes in two weights (fingering and aran) meaning you can knit one for everyone in the family. I love the textured stitch. Beautiful for showing off solid or variegated yarns.

Copyright Kate Bostwick. Used with permission.

Copyright Kate Bostwick. Used with permission.

Lee Meredith is well known for her quirky designs and interesting constructions. Her bold knits are utterly fabulous and I think Barry embodies everything that I love about the way she designs.

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Hinged from Katya Frankel has clean lines and a beautiful structure. Perfect for showing off subtly tonal hand dyed yarn. Four sizes means this has lots of scope to be the perfect gift or a new hat for you.

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Lucent by Hunter Hammersen has an unusual construction and a really flattering shape. I would not normally be drawn to this style of hat but I really like this. It is always nice to see something that is a little different but wonderfully flattering.

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Cables and lace add a feminine touch to Affectionate by Melissa Schaschwary. I think this hat would be perfect in a subtle pale grey (but then I think everything would be perfect in grey).

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Bristol Ivy is a design genius. Her shawls and garments are outstanding. I have been eyeing up her hat patterns too. Rekaviður bring together so many of the elements of Bristol’s work that I admire. Clean lines, clever details and designs that work perfectly with the chosen fibre.

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Sara Peterson’s hat Tindrer makes me think of the sound of fresh snow crunching underfoot. There is no sign of snow here in Edinburgh, just soggy wet weather but if there was snow I would want to be wearing this hat.

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Last but not least two fun hats for the little ones in your life. I know I said this was my ten favourite hats, but I got to the end and could not decide between these two so I included both of them.

Sassafras by Georgie Hallam comes in a wide range of sizes and I think it would be the perfect knit for my toddler. I love that you get to show off a cute button too.

Copyright Georgie Hallam. Used with permission.

Copyright Georgie Hallam. Used with permission.

The Elfbaby hat by Robynn Weldon is a cute hat (suitable for babies, children and adults with a wide range of sizes available) the various border options and a pixie style crown are a winner in my book. I love it!

Copyright Lorna Lynch| Robynn Weldon. Used with permission.

Copyright Robynn Weldon. Used with permission.

There you have it folks, my #giftalong2014 hat round up. There are many more fantastic designs out there. Remember these designs are all 25% off for the sale period. Pop along to the group for more info

I also have nineteen patterns available in the Ravelry #giftalong2014 including the wonderful Montrose Hat. You can find all my patterns that are discounted here. 

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Happy Knitting,

Clare

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