Ysolda’s Colourwork Club 2021

In my continuing designer crush on Ysolda Teague, and also enjoying shopping with with Ysolda.com (lovely curated, sustainable collection of yarns, and speedy shipping), I signed up for the Colourwork Club in 2021.

As you have probably noticed from my Make 9 list, I am on a bit of a colourwork kick this year and figured that before I went headlong into garment knitting, a couple of accessories under my belt would do me no harm.

I saw the Colourwork Club grace my emails in the autumn, and signed myself up for the Cosy Room colourway. I am hoping for pops of colour in an otherwise warm, rich neutrals palette.

Photo Credit: Ysolda.com

Unfortunately the start of the 2021 Colourwork Club was delayed because of the Brexit transition. The Club yarn is Rauma Finullgarn, coming all the way over from Norway, and sadly, our shitshow of a government didn’t get some pretty basic fundamentals in place in preparation for the transition.

Communication has been very good from the team at Ysolda, and there were options aplenty if you wanted to change or even opt out. I kept in, and am happy to wait for mine to appear when it is ready. It isn’t like I don’t have anything else to work on in the meantime, after all.

As part of the club, you were also invited to join the Ysolda Knitwork on Mighty Networks. I have to admit, I really debated whether to add yet another social media channel into my life, having recently deleted my Twitter and Pinterest accounts, and my Facebook profile is clinging on by the skin of its teeth. I joined to see what the community would be like, and I have to say, I am amazed to see just how international a group it is.

So at the moment, I believe my yarn is on its way from Norway, and will the journey down from Edinburgh. The patterns are being released at intervals, so watch this space!

The Linhay Hat: The Gauge Saga

For Christmas 2019, hub very kindly bought me the 2019 issues of TOFT Quarterly and a subscription for 2020.

I love a TOFT animal and have made a few things from Ed’s Menagerie over the last couple of years. I can remember immersing myself in the 2019 copies of TOFT Quarterly on Christmas Day, declaring that I wanted to try colourwork knitting.

The Linhay Hat quickly made it on to my Make 9 list for 2020, but sadly didn’t get a look in.

Just over a year later, I am parked on the sofa knitting on my Winter Lights Shawl and I can hear Matt chatting away on the phone to someone. It’s his nan, filling him in on life (such as one can do when you are mid-lockdown). One of the things that came up in conversation was that she would like me to knit a hat for her.

Sure, I said to Matt. What colour? Black, grey or white. Surprisingly not much of these in my stash! Plus, who doesn’t love black yarn on dark evenings?!

If I am honest, I had half toyed with the idea of making the in-laws hats during the Great Christmas Hat-athon but I am still relatively unconfident in my knitting and not entirely sure that gifts would be well received. My family are tied by blood and therefore have to be enthusiastic, and Matt is contractually obliged by virtue of marriage, but I am nervous about making for people outside of that small circle.

Matt suggested I knit another Cariad hat. While I do love that pattern, I am acutely aware that Nan’s eyesight is failing so I wasn’t confident that she would be able to see the cables. I suggested colourwork instead, which Matt agreed and he picked the Linhay Hat from my collection of patterns.

I bought a couple of balls of merino from Wool on the Exe and ordered a pom pom from Two Little Rainbows. I have to say, I am incredibly lucky with my three local yarn shops – they’re all very speedy in processing and sending out orders, and this time was no exception. The pom pom took longer to arrive as it is made to order, but I do like a Two Little Rainbows pom pom.

I got cracking and even attempted a new cast on from Cast On, Bind Off. The colourwork chart wasn’t so involved as to be unmanageable, but was challenging enough not to spend hours absorbed in it. I would work on the hat for about 10 rows before swapping out to something a little less involved, like my Harvest cardigan.

I finished the colourwork off, merrily not checking the gauge, knit the top of the hat and went to try it on.

Fail! The brim was fine (it’s rib, of course it was fine!). The colourwork though? My gauge was waaaaaay off. The stitch count should have been 22sts in 10cm. I had 29. The row gauge wasnt too bad but because the stitch gauge was so off, everything was too small.

I cannot tell you how annoyed (with myself) I was. I was so pleased with the colourwork itself, I think it is neat on both sides, and I thought it was looking fab. But what is form without function?

I am in two minds as what to do with it – gift it to a friend for her little boy, or keep it as a reminder that you could check your gauge (even if you don’t swatch)!

So Nan still needs a hat, and I have hedged my bets – more yarn in those colours to make a new Linhay hat, and some Malabrigo Mecha in grey just in case I screw up the Linhay hat again.

Lesson learnt!

The Frogged Flax Light Sweater

Some time back, I treated myself to two skeins of Gamer Crafting sock yarn in Gandalf the Gay and Yoda’s Lightsaber. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do with them (sock knitting wasn’t on my radar then) but I knew I liked them.

Around the same time, I decided I wanted to learn how to knit a garment. I had already knit a colour block blanket, and cast on my Inglis Mitts and had reasonable success with those.

Conveniently, my work friend announced that she was pregnant and I thought that it might be nice to make her baby a jumper, and set about looking on YouTube for tutorials.

In came the lovely Tina from Simply In Stitches, who had made a tutorial on how to make the Flax sweater from Tin Can Knits. I pulled up the Flax Light pattern, grabbed the skein of Gandalf the Gay, a fun sparkly speckled sock yarn, and got to work in early April. Looking back at photos from around then, I had forgotten how glorious the weather was and how much time I had spent in the garden.

I was pleased with how quickly it actually looked like a garment and found it very enjoyable.

Then it came to binding off for the body. This was a real learning point for me. I bound off in the way that I remember my nan showing me, many many moons ago. Unfortunately, I bound off to tightly, and I don’t think it would fit now. Lesson learned, and one I am now very conscious of.

As much as I dislike the idea of frogging something back, I also don’t want good yarn going to waste on something that can’t actually be worn. I sat down yesterday, carefully unpicked the ends and unravelled the jumper into a little ball, freeing up a set of needles, four stitch markers and one project bag.

Instead, the yarn will make a beautiful pair of socks at some point, and for now, it is back in the Ravelry stash, waiting for the right pattern to come along.

That’s one project ticked off the Finish It Off February list.

Winter Lights Shawl – Part 1 and 2

I had planned to cast this on, on Boxing Day during the cast on party. There had been a flaw to my plan though – the Boxing Day rugby match (back when we could actually go!). It turned out to be a rubbish game, and I watched the cast on party on Instagram on my phone. I didn’t miss anything, although I couldn’t take my knitting with me like I could in the times Before COVID.

I was also very close to finishing my Easy Eyelet Yoke Sweater, which I was really enjoying.

Anyway, long story short(er), I put off casting on my Hiberknitalong shawl until I had finished my first Rainbow Sock Chronicles socks (in an attempt to keep the number of WIPs in 2021 down).

On a stormy, rainy Wednesday evening, I sat in front of the small screen on my phone, watching Stephen West’s (excellent) tutorial on i-cord cast ons. And I was off!

I whizzed through the first section, the small semi circle of garter stitch before adding in CC1 and working in the rays section.

If you had told me that this was a relaxing knit, I would have laughed at you. When Stephen had introduced it as a relaxing knit, I thought “I am sure it is for these Slipstravaganza Super Knitters”. But I was wrong! Despite its intricate looks, the first two sections are really relaxing and not too brain-teasing.

I often wonder if I make the right yarn choices in terms of colour combinations but I am really pleased with this so far. The main colour (the speckled colour) is so fun to see the pops come through and I think it works really well with the pink.

I had a hit of Cast-on-itis and so the shawl ended up temporarily parked while I cast on a hat for Nan-in-law and the Harvest cardigan for me. I managed to squeeze out a couple of rows while I waited to go in to blood donors, and worked on it over the weekend. Someone wasn’t too impressed to have had lap access restricted by knitting…

I need to watch the next Stephen West tutorial now as I head into the bubbles and dots section to make sure I get it. While I am at it, I think I will also be popping a lifeline in.

I hope that the rays will become neater on blocking but so far, I am really chuffed with how this is working up.

Finish It Off February

After my recent spate of cast ons, funnily enough, I don’t seem to have any more project bags going free at the moment.

Aside from casting on a pair of socks for the Rainbow Sock Chronicles, I have decided that I need to get a couple of projects that are currently languishing in project bags off the needles. For alliterative purposes, I like that February is that month!

What’s on the list to finish?

First up is my Ravelston Sweater. I cast on this jumper during Lockdown 1.0, in the gorgeous sunshine, hit a couple of road blocks and put it to one side while I worked on something easier.

Next up is a pattern by the same designer – my Inglis mitts. I am so close to finishing these – literally just the bind off on one mitt and the thumbs. This is my oldest knitting WIP.

Also in the mitten pile is the Skeindeer MKAL Midwintdeer mittens. These actually aren’t all that old, they were started in December but I didn’t keep up with the knitting and anything that wasn’t a Christmas gift took a back seat. These won’t take long either, I don’t think.

Last but not least is one that I am on the fence whether to frog or finish. It’s a Flax Light sweater for a baby. Said baby is now 10 months old, so I don’t think it will fit the recipient now.

Of course, in addition to these, I would also like to get a couple of my current WIPs further down the line, but we will see!

Rainbow Sock Yarn Leftovers

I will put it out there that I am not brilliant with leftover yarns from projects. Especially socks. I am pretty poor at judging how far leftovers will go, but I am keen to make sure that I use up as much of my yarn as possible.

With 12 different coloured socks on the plan for this year, there are going to be a good amount of leftovers.

I am scrolling through Instagram, as my life is largely knitting, scrolling or working right now, and Loulabella’s post caught my eye – she made a mini sock! How cute is this!

Photo credit: Loulabella.Knits on Instagram

I have never freewheeled a pattern with knitting before, but I knew I wanted to give this a go.

So I made a mini too!

I cast on 36 stitches, halved the cable pattern and reduced the number of repeats. I made a mini heel flap and gusset before following the pattern down the foot and down to the toes. I love it! It used about 7g of yarn, and I am hoping to make a mini sock every month with the aim of either having little 12 days of Christmas socks, or bunting.

I still have about 18g of my pink left, so I think I will be working out how many rows in total a (normal sized) vanilla sock is, and then dividing those rows by 12 so I get uniform stripes.

I suspect I will have some leftovers again, so the last of it will start a Cozy Memories Blanket.

What do you do with yarn scraps?

Rainbow Sock Chronicles – January 2021

I haven’t really used Ravelry all that much, other than to keep a log of my projects, and as a library of my patterns. I joined in the Sew Sweet Violet discussion group, and honestly, I think I found my online yarn people! In the run up to the cast on, I have been merrily chatting away with such lovely people from all around the world. I have experienced significant yarn envy, as people have shared their planned rainbows, but it really has been a wonderfully friendly bunch of sock knitters.

On 1st January, I decided on my pattern – the Winwick Mum Hidden Gem pattern, from the Winwick Mum Sock Collection by West Yorkshire Spinners. I haven’t really knitted complicated socks before, but I was keen to start broadening my experience, and how better than during a year-long KAL.

January’s yarn colour is pink. I didn’t have enough pink sock yarn at all when I had decided to join the Rainbow Sock Chronicles (I had a little Coop Knits Socks Yeah! in Xenon but not enough for a pair – I have size 8 UK feet). In December, I bought a skein of Humble Sock from Dye Bath which is incredibly reasonably priced for hand dyed yarn. It also arrived very quickly, especially given the December postal delays.

It seemed that I temporarily forgot how to knit, having cast on, knit the rib (incorrectly) and frogged it back about 4 times. Thankfully, the yarn has held up well to the multitude of rippits.

I then mucked up the chart, dropped a stitch, lost my rag a little and ripped it all back again. At this point, I headed back to my Winwick Mum pattern books and settled on the Easy Cable Socks, which went much more smoothly.

I will knit the Hidden Gems socks at some point, but it seems I do not have the mental capacity for it right now. Instead, I enjoyed watching the cables develop.

Cables made it much easier to count how many rows I needed in each section, and they were interesting enough to be engaging without challenging my January-addled brain.

The second sock, unsurprisingly, went much quicker than the first, and I enjoyed knitting it.

I had told myself that I couldn’t cast on anything else until I had finished my socks, and I was itching to start my Hiberknitalong shawl, and had also ordered the yarn for one of my Make 9 projects. The result? The quickest pair of socks I have knit so far!

The yarn was really nice to work with. It isn’t as soft as a merino base, but I think it is going to wear well, and the subtle changes in pinks throughout were enjoyable to see come through. On blocking, the tiniest bit of dye bled out, but it was minimal and the colour hasn’t changed as far as I can see.

I have 25g left of the yarn. I am very tempted to make some scrappy stripey vanilla socks with all the leftovers from the Rainbow Sock Chronicles, but we will see!

The Exeter Hat

Another long-time Favourites list dweller – the Exeter Hat, by John Horigan (Ravelry link).

I stumbled across this particular pattern as I had been looking for sport weight projects to make with some sport weight merino I had bought as part of a Witcher themed yarn club. The name jumped out, as it’s my home city.

John designed the hat based on the ceiling in the nave of Exeter Cathedral.

Photo Credit: Exeter Cathedral

Anyway, after my flock of Cariad Hats, and not to leave him out, I wanted to knit a hat for my sister’s boyfriend. The Cariad hat is all well and good when you have a decent idea of someone’s hat size, but I am not acquainted with this particular detail and I wanted the hats to be a surprise for everyone so I couldn’t ask my sister to attack him with a tape measure, lest I gave the game away. I figured the 2×2 ribbed construction would cover a multitude of hat sizes .

I have a confession. I had planned to make this out of stash yarn, as the stash has become a little unwieldy this year, but of course, I didn’t have enough of the yarn I had wanted to use to make the hat. I happened to need to go to the butcher one nippy Saturday, and, oh no what a shame, my local yarn shop, Fudge’s, happens to be next door. With a shopping bag of brisket, sausages and a ball of Stylecraft Life DK in Black Nepp, I came home.

Provisional cast on done, I set off on what felt like a marathon 2×2 rib-athon. The pattern calls for 8.5 inches of ribbing before starting the decreases.

I am glad I got the colourway I did, as the little tweedy speckles were fun and kept my mind off the “when does this end?!” feeling. I did enjoy catching up on Dunderknit’s recent vlogs and a couple of vintage Skeindeer podcasts though. Eventually I switched to DPNs (marginally more preferential than magic loop, in my world).

On the soggy Sunday, just before Christmas, I finished the 2×2 marathon and popped it in the wash, ready to be wrapped and sent up to Hampshire with my mum for the present swap with my sister.

Of course, in my infinite wisdom, I didn’t take a photo of the finished hat, and as my sister and her boyfriend are in Tier 4, it hasn’t had an outing yet! Eventually, I am sure I will have a picture to add in.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend the pattern. It is simple but effective and I think the pattern mirrors the design inspiration of the cathedral well. The yarn is fun, with its little flecks and pops of colour, and it washed nicely too.

The Rainbow Sock Chronicles 2021

There I was, parked on the sofa one cold, foggy Sunday morning, tea in hand, catching up on some of my favourite podcasters/YouTubers. One of the first YouTube channels I ever watched was by Tina from Simply in Stitches.

I found Tina’s channel a while back, and watched her “how to” series on how to knit a plain sock (playlist). Watching other people knit has always been relaxing to me, probably as I am at least a third gen knitter.

Anyway, after what seemed like a long absence, Tina is back and said that in the new year, she would be joining in on the Rainbow Sock Chronicles, hosted by Jooles from Sew Sweet Violet and Kelly from Lay Family Yarns.

Cue me falling down the YouTube rabbit hole, and over to Jooles’ channel introducing the idea. After a year of, well, 2020-ness, I love the idea of making some bright, fun, useful things.

Photo Credit: Sew Sweet Violet on Instagram

The idea is that you make a pair of socks (not ankle socks) in a specific colour each month, and by the end, you will have a beautiful rainbow of socks. What’s not to love! The socks can be any pattern, from what I can gather, and there are prizes for entering a sock a month, with extra “entries” for using Lay Family Yarn and/or one of Jooles’ patterns.

I figured it would be a good skill stretch, and have a couple of potential patterns lined up from both Ravelry and also my Winwick Mum books. I also have some yarn colours ready to go, but will be in need of a couple more colours (oh no, yarn buying, what a shame).

The colours are:

  • January – pink
  • February – dark pink/red
  • March – orange
  • April – yellow
  • May – green
  • June – turquoise
  • July – blue
  • August – purple
  • September to December are transition colours/freestyle

I had a raid of the current stash, which is frankly getting a little out of hand anyway, and came up with this as my current rainbow:

I am missing a couple of colours (can you tell that pinks and blues are my kind of colours!?), so there will be additions as we go. I am kicking January off with the pink Dye Bath skein.

So watch this space! I like having a pair of socks on the go anyway, and a month to complete them seems entirely doable.

Anyway, however you are spending the New Year, I wish you all a better and brighter 2021!

A Flock of Cariad Hats

Until this year, I haven’t really done the gift knitting/crocheting thing. I have made a blanket for my mum and one for my nan-in-law, and some amigurumi Pokemon for my sister, but otherwise I am not normally a gift knitter/crocheter.

This year though…. This year I went hat mad! A mad hatter, if you will!

During one of my many Ravelry rabbit hole moments (hours), I was looking for something to do with my latest yarn purchase – the Stylecraft Cosy Chunky, which promises two hats from one ball. I wanted something a bit interesting to knit, given it would be my first ever attempt at a hat. In came the Cariad Hat from Weird Sheep (Ravelry / Etsy):

I loved making it so much, I made another six! One was for my mum, in Stylecraft Special Chunky in Lipstick (she is allergic to wool, and loves red, so this was a no-brainer), one was for my sister, in the Malabrigo Mecha in Teal Feather. The Mecha is beautiful and knit so nicely. It’s a single ply chunky, 100% merino yarn which is wonderfully soft and the variegation was just *chef’s kiss*. So nice, in fact, that the two I had originally planned to make, turned into a further four for people various! My other local yarn shop, Tiverton Wool and Bead Shop has recently started stocking Malabrigo so in I toddled and out I came with English Rose, Queguay and Whales Road, along with matching pom poms.

The pom poms were a combination of Two Little Rainbows and Tiverton Wool and Bead Shop. Top tip, should you be a ditzy as I am: check the lead times for things before ordering in December. The pom poms from Two Little Rainbows were hand made to order, which I didn’t realise at the time and I was getting a little nervous that I had finished the hats but had no pom poms to attach. Thankfully they arrived in enough time for attaching and then wrapping.

I was pleased with the look of them all, and even learnt a new technique in the process – the tubular cast on for 1×1 rib.

The pattern itself is well written and easy to follow, especially if you’re new to cables. I like to work cables from a chart, which isn’t included in the pattern itself, but it is easy enough to get into a rhythm and not worry too much about consulting the pattern every row, especially if you decide to knit seven (including mine) of them, one after the other!

Mum was pleased with hers, and wore it out on our walk on Christmas Day, and my sister thought hers was store bought, which was a lovely compliment!

One more hat made it onto the gifting pile for Christmas 2020, which I’ll cover later. I think I have one more hat in me for this winter, but we’ll leave that for another day too.

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