I made a thing!

In my seeming inability to stop joining make-alongs, I have joined in on the Christmas in July MAL (#ChristmasInJulyMAL on Instagram) which is being hosted by Dana Rae Makes, who is a lovely and talented knitter and designer I met through the Rainbow Sock Chronicles.

The premise of Christmas in July is to indulge in a little Christmas knitting – whether that is using some gifted yarn, making something you wanted to make at Christmas but didn’t get the chance, using up advent calendar things, or whatever (you get the idea).

I am not a confident sewist at all, and I find the sewing machine intimidating. I would really like to get over that though and one day make something I could wear. Where better to start than a little project bag! And why not start in a make-along!

I popped into Malber Fabrics in town, asked the lady if they had any Christmas fabrics. They have tonnes apparently! So I bought a half metre of fabric, a half metre of lining, some interfacing and ribbon.

I used the pattern by Ellie of Crafthouse Magic which offered a drawstring and a zip option. I don’t have a zipper foot on my sewing machine, so I opted for the drawstring version.

I got to cutting out the pieces with my rotary cutter, half watching the rugby semi finals. Then it was time to get the sewing machine out.

First up, I needed to wind a bobbin.

Threading the machine is always one of the things that boggles my brain a little, but I managed to do it without calling my mum. Victory #1.

I tested the tension and stitch size on some scrap fabric before getting going on the bag proper.

I need to learn to trust in patterns a bit more, and know that they will make sense. I couldn’t quite get my head around how the drawstring channel worked, but kept at it anyway. My iron even saw the light of day!

I always worry that I will break a machine needle on a pin, but the needle survived to sew another day! Victory #2.

I found a use for some of the washi tape I had lurking around as I started top stitching the drawstring channel, which worked out rather well (we won’t be taking a look at my wobbly top stitching in any great detail!).

As I dealt with the ends and sewed the final bit up, I thought I had come up with an ingenious idea for threading the ribbon – a kebab skewer!

Unfortunately, the ring end was a little too big to fit through the gap, so I resorted to one of my thicker darning needles. I had to borrow an extra pair of hands to work the ribbon all the way through, but I got there.

And so, with a knot in each end of ribbon, I had a finished project bag, that actually looks like a project bag and isn’t sporting any obvious problems! Victory #3.

Safe to say, I am pretty chuffed with my efforts.

Winter Lights Shawl: Parts 3 and 4

I have to confess, I hadn’t worked on this for absolutely ages. I am not entirely sure why, other than I suspect that it bowed out to the Rainbow Sock Chronicles for a couple of months.

Section 3 is all about the bubbles and dots. It’s a very short section, and is accompanied by some really handy YouTube tutorials that Stephen West shared.

I was grateful of the tutorials, especially when it came to the dots. There is something mildly terrifying to me about deliberately dropping stitches down. I am so awful at fixing dropped stitches, that I had procrastinated on knitting this. I shouldn’t have worried. It went perfectly fine.

Section 4 saw the start of the honeycomb section which seems to be a huge mainstay of Stephen’s designs at the moment. I knit the first honeycomb repeat, and then put the shawl away for literally months.

On the second May bank holiday weekend, I was trying to work out what exactly I should work on. I had just finished the Honeydew Shawl by Yarnia Designs plus Gnathan the Gnome and was itching to cast something new on. I had been adding things to my queue on Ravelry with gusto, but I knew that I really should focus on getting something else done (having 9 WIPs on the go too).

After an afternoon of trying to get the garden under control, I pulled out the project bag with this shawl in, and couldn’t quite work out why I had put the shawl down in the first place.

I don’t know if it is just because I had only been working on the shawl under artificial lights (being cast on and worked on during winter and dark evenings), but I fell back in love with my colours all over again.

Each row of the honeycomb section seemed to take me a while to knit. I don’t actually know what the stitch count was as I most definitely was not keeping track, but I think having working on bigger projects in thicker yarn, this felt tiny by comparison.

One full repeat done, I sat back and admired the colours (I really am quite taken, can you tell?), and also realised that this was really going to benefit from a good blocking to open out those honeycombs.

Despite enjoying working on this, it again made way for my Rainbow Sock Chronicles socks for June and my STRIPES! jumper. I actually needed to pinch the needles from this to knit the STRIPES! jumper, and so it will have to go back into its bag until I have finished the jumper.

Thinking About Stash

There I was reconciling my budget for the month, when I suddenly saw the summary figure for how much I had spent on yarn. No, I am not going to share that figure. Yes, I am embarrassed by it. No, this hasn’t been the first month I have felt this way.

I had started off the year thinking that if I just bought the yarn that I needed for my Make Nine projects, and knowing that I would also be joining the Rainbow Sock Chronicles so would get a little bit of shopping in for colours I didn’t have in my rainbow, I would be fine.

That hasn’t happened. I bought the yarn for my planned projects, but I didn’t stop there.

Now, part of me thinks that I don’t have any other extravagant hobbies, I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke. I am lucky to have a disposable income after my financial commitments have been met. So who cares if I spend a bit on yarn. Well, I care. But I have only noticed recently quite how out of control the acquisition has been.

This isn’t a post dedicated to “look at my disposable income”. In some respects my feelings about my stash isn’t hugely (well, a little) concerned with the cost which I fully acknowledge as being my privilege. It is actually more that I bought my yarns because I thought they were beautiful, but I keep buying and don’t knit quickly enough, which is beginning to be a source of stress. It is also turning into a question of storage.

I am firmly of the belief that knitting or hobbies in general should not be a source of stress. They absolutely should not be a source of shame.

I recently watched a Hey Brown Berry podcast on her thoughts on how her yarn buying has changed (video here). It made me really think about some of my yarn buying habits.

Marce was explaining how her initial buying habits were tied up with “box store” buys of thicker yarn, which then switched down to indie dyed fingering/4 ply weight yarns in single (ish) skeins and has more recently changed to larger quantities of thicker yarns again.

I started crocheting with aran weight acrylic Stylecraft yarn. I still prefer to crochet with acrylic. It washes well and is nice to crochet with. However, I don’t often knit with pure acrylic. I knit more with wool or wool blends, and keep my indie dyed stuff for knitting. A lot of my acrylic stash is a stash accumulated during my crochet adventures, and as I haven’t crocheted all that much recently, that part of my stash isn’t really going down.

What I had been doing is buying single skeins of sock yarn. I love them. I thought they were beautiful enough to want in my collection of yarns. I still think that of a lot of them, but I am coming to realise that, especially as I have my Rainbow Sock Chronicles yarns all planned out, my other non-RSC yarns are kind of languishing. Not only are they languishing, but they don’t necessarily have a pattern partner. It just feels a bit wasteful.

When I look beyond sock patterns, I realise that a lot of my yarns, especially indie dyed, are single skeins which aren’t usually enough for a different (non-sock) project. Not only that, but the colours are relatively eclectic so aren’t always complimentary colours.

I am reluctant to do a yarn diet. My food diets don’t exactly lead to sustained success, and I have no doubt that a yarn diet would yield similar results. Enter: the Imagined Landscapes More Out Than In challenge. This is a little “c” challenge, and you set the parameters of success.

I am quite new to all things Imagined Landscapes, having been introduced to gnome knitting by my friends on the Rainbow Sock Chronicles board. I joined in the MKAL to make Gnathan the Gnome, and I started listening to the Imagined Landscapes audio podcast shortly after starting Gnathan.

I joined the More Out Than In thread on the Ravelry forum, totted up all of my yarn as at the day that I joined (an eye watering 76,332m) and committed to finishing 2021 with less yarn (even if it is just 1m) than I registered.

Now, are all of my yarns on Ravelry? No, I know that at least one project has yarn that isn’t in stash, and I also have some teeny tiny balls of DK cotton for amigurumi. Will I add them in to stash? Maybe. The cotton is so tiny that it almost doesn’t seem worth the effort, but the other one, I might well do when I start working on it again.

I will say that my currently stash is now more than this figure, as I had another yarn delivery which was a mystery box from Ysolda.com as part of the closing sale, and I have one more skein coming soon (which has a plan attached to it).

So, I can buy more yarn, but I have to actually use it and work through more than I bring in.

I am planning to check in monthly. I will be visiting the More In Than Out 2021 thread at the end of each month anyway, so will also post here. Wish me luck!

Farewell to the Ysolda Shop

Have you ever felt gutted, truly gutted, for someone you have never met but shopped with? That’s how I feel about the announcement made by Ysolda Teague at the end of May that her shop, ysolda.com would cease selling physical products from 25 June (her blog post about the physical shop closure is here). The digital pattern house side is still continuing which is a silver lining, as I am a huge fan of Ysolda’s patterns, and have a number of them in my library and queue. They’re great resources within themselves and so well written.

Sadly, it isn’t a great surprise, but I am gutted, for her, her team and also for her customers.

Despite things like supply issues, which had affected the Colourwork Club kits including mine, the team at Ysolda worked really hard to make sure that their customer service was top notch. Nothing was too much trouble, which I think is a real testament to their business and personal ethics given the trials of the last 12 months.

I don’t know how big the Ysolda enterprise actually is, but I was always impressed – I didn’t feel like a number, customer service was great, the product mix was interesting and curated not to heavily compete with other independent businesses. I wouldn’t have got to try some of the yarns I have, if it hadn’t been for this store.

The online store carries different yarns to those that are widely available here in the UK – brands like the Norwegian Rauma, American Harrisville Designs and Neighborhood Fibre Co, and French De Rerum Natura, in addition to books on sweater design, colourwork and social justice works.

I don’t really want this to be a “look what I bought” post, as I bought a bit more than I would normally have done just so that I could experience the different yarns and nab a physical copy of a couple of books. The projects will no doubt make their way on to the blog when they’re ready. But I feel sad to only have discovered and started shopping with Ysolda as a physical (virtual) store more recently.

As I say, the pattern side of things isn’t going anywhere, and Ysolda has so many wonderful designs to choose from, spanning everything from traditional stranded colourwork pieces through to beautiful lacy shawls and everything in-between. I have my Ravelston to finish, and I also have the other two patterns of my Colourwork Club to knit too, in addition to the many other patterns in my library, and would encourage anyone to go and check her designs out, which are available on both Ravelry and Ysolda.com.

I wish the team who made Ysolda.com possible all the very best for their futures, and thank them for the wonderful online shopping experiences I have had and the fabulous yarns that I wouldn’t have otherwise had an opportunity to try.

Make Nine 2021 – The Honeydew Shawl

Having discovered Yarnia Designs as one of those rather marvellous lockdown (specifically Lockdown 1.0) finds, I binge watched pretty much as many knitting podcasts as I could feasibly get away with, before my eyes turned square.

As I binged on Tales of Yarnia, I was quite taken by Hannah’s Honeydew Shawl. I loved the look of it – textured and solid. No lace here! It isn’t that I don’t like a lace shawl, but I knew that (when the time eventually comes that we can go back to the rugby) I would want something a bit warmer.

And so, the Honeydew Shawl made it on to my Make Nine list for 2021.

I had actually been relatively organised at curating my yarn collection for my Make Nine list. I had tried (hard) to fool myself into thinking that if (if) I just bought the yarn for my Make Nine, I wouldn’t need to buy any more yarn until I had knit all my Make Nine list. Yeah… That hasn’t happened, but that is a story for another day perhaps.

Anyway, while the colours of Hannah’s version are really lovely, I know that they aren’t colours that would suit me, especially so close to my face.

I had been itching to try some of Kettle Yarn Co’s Beyul DK. I bought two skeins of Beyul in the Neptune colourway and paired it with Biffsugar Yarns’ Snowflake on a merino nylon DK, which has just the loveliest subtle speckles of pink, teal, greens and smatterings of yellow.

Around the same time as I was looking to cast this shawl on, Amy from The Meaningful Stitch podcast announced that she would be running a KAL for shawls made between Beltane (1 May) and Samhain (1 November). Any shawl would go, and you can knit more than one. So I thought I would join in on this one too.

I cast on during a few hours I took as holiday on a quiet Friday afternoon. It was my first garter tab cast on (thanks to the Stephen West tutorial). I sped through the shawl, enjoying the relaxing garter stitch, mixed in with pops of garter waves and twisted stitches.

It was engaging enough to hold my attention without being so intensive that I couldn’t also re-watch Line of Duty from series 1 to 5, and then on to the latest series so that the office embargo of any LoD chatter could be lifted.

It took me away from my sock for a bit, but I was happy to be taken away for a little while. I had stabbed my finger with my tiny Chiaogoo tips once too often so working with bigger needles felt more sensible than continuing to bore a hole in my index finger.

The yarns were nice to work with. The Beyul almost has a sheen to it, and the stitch definition and colour depth is lovely. The Biffsugar Merino was also nice, with it’s fun pops of colour regularly coming through the stitches. Neither yarn was splitty at all, but I did find them too slippery for my Chiaogoo needles. They were better with my KnitPro Zings, though if I had a wooden set, I would probably have used them, as it needed something a bit grippier in my opinion.

The shawl is knit at a relatively loose gauge, and honestly, I have no idea if I was on the right track as I didn’t swatch (who swatches for shawls?!).

I ended up having to slow down a little on the shawl as it got heavier. I had been on a real knitting kick and had started to get sore wrists, in addition to pokey finger holes.

As I came to finish the shawl, I realised that it was coming up small, pre-blocking at least. I was a little surprised as the fabric was quite loose and drapey so going up a needle to get gauge would have resulted in an almost holey shawl.

It took me two weeks to get round to weaving the ends in (having been sidetracked by Gnathan the Gnome), and I hoped that an aggressive block would help.

Once I had finally woven my ends in, it went for a bath. Holy smokes that Beyul leaked it’s dye a lot!

Unfortunately, it has stained the Snowflake a little now too, which wasn’t the effect I was going for. You live and learn, I guess. Anyway, the shawl blocked out marvellously and met the measurements. I may even have been able to drop a needle size and have come up slightly smaller.

I can see I will get a lot of wear out of this when the weather changes in the autumn.

Joining in the STRIPES! Knitalong

I have been itching (itching!) to cast something new on, which is nothing short of ridiculous given the number of WIPs currently lying about my knitting space.

I bought the STRIPES! sweater pattern by Andrea Mowry in one of her sales earlier in the year. I didn’t have an specific yarn plans at the time, but I knew I wanted to knit this at some point. It wasn’t going to be in the recommended yarn (because budget).

Languishing in relatively deep stash, I had three yarns from a dyer who I don’t think is dyeing any longer. She had put together a Witcher themed yarn club. Anything Witcher and I am in! I ordered the three month subscription for the mystery club and waited for them to arrive. The first yarn I actually managed to pick up from the city before COVID hit. Unfortunately, the second two yarns had a bit of trouble getting to me. Eventually they arrived though.

The first yarn was based on Yennifer, the powerful witch and love interest of Geralt. It is the perfect colour for her and I loved the yarn so much.

I am not sure which order the other two were released in as they arrived together, but next up was Geralt. Geralt is the main character, whose colour palette is all moody greys and ambers.

The next skein was based on Ciri, who is a princess in the series. She is a lot of blues/teals and because of her story, also browns.

Now, honesty time. Did I love all of these skeins? Hmm… I don’t hate them, but I don’t know if I would have bought them all individually. Would I have bought the subscription if I had known what they would look like in advance? No, probably not. I really do like Yennifer, so I know I would almost definitely have bought that. But the other two, I just wasn’t totally sure on. It wasn’t my best yarn buying experience either but I can’t tell how much of that was COVID related. I decided not to buy the second round of subscription though, and I don’t think the dyer ever showed the remaining 3 colourways.

It took me a while to work out what I wanted to make with them. There isn’t quite enough similarity between them to make a fade, and I had originally planned to make my Inglis mitts in at least one of the colours until I realised quite how variegated the yarns were. Because the Inglis mitts are cables, moss stitch and rib, the yarn needed to be quiet enough to allow the pattern to shine. I had also bought the sport weight 100% merino, which is wonderfully soft, but I don’t have many patterns that call for sport weight yarn.

I caked them up and put them in my yarn drawer for over a year, occasionally bringing them out to see if inspiration struck. It didn’t, until I was having a bit of a tidy some time after I bought the pattern. Then I realised these could be a perfect pairing. I just needed a couple more colours to add in so I had enough yarn.

As luck would have it, I had popped into my local yarn shop, Fudge’s, and Cara was working with a new Adriafil yarn called Woolcot, a wool/cotton blend which happened to run at 300m per ball. While officially it is a DK, this yardage puts it firmly in the camp of my Witcher sport weight. The yarn was working up so nicely too, that I knew this could be it.

A couple of weekends later, after mulling over the colours, I settled on a gold and fawn to add to the line up.

I wanted a high enough contrast between the stripes so settled on the order above.

As I was browsing through some of the boards on Ravelry, I spotted that there was an unofficial STRIPES! KAL on Andrea Mowry’s Ravelry group. I was in! I considered myself enabled and got to swatching so I could cast on, on June 1st. The KAL runs for 6 weeks from 1st June.

I am knitting the structured collar, full length, long sleeved version (may rein back to 3/4 sleeves if I need to for yarn). I am going to knit gold ribbing for the collar, cuffs and hem. I got gauge on the recommended needles, and will knit the 5th size.

Make Nine 2021: Harvest Cardigan

The Harvest Cardigan by Tincan Knits made it on to my Make Nine 2021 list because I needed a confidence builder. I don’t own many cardigans, and the only cardigan I had previously attempted (the Basic Cardigan) didn’t end so well.

I was also a little in love with the colour, as well as the shape, and had bought some Adriafil Morfeo in a rusty orange/copper colour from Tiverton Wool and Bead shop during one of Sandra’s very generous sales.

I love a Tincan Knits pattern. They’re incredibly size inclusive and very well written. If I wanted a confidence builder, this was it.

I started this pattern first on my Make Nine list for a couple of reasons – I had the yarn in stash, and I wanted something simple to knit as I had the Winter Lights Shawl and a pair of socks on the go too at the time. Because the cardigan is quite long, it also meant that the freeing up of space in my yarn stash would be most welcome. The was a significant driving force in my decision to cast on.

Tina from Simply In Stitches had a tutorial for the pattern, though I have to admit, while I watched it in advance of casting on, I found I didn’t need the video help.

I swatched in some left over blue Morfeo from my Easy Eyelet Sweater, and found gauge using 4.5mm needles instead of the pattern recommended 5mm. I cheated a little, as the Easy Eyelet Sweater was knit on 5mm needles so I already knew my gauge was too big, so I knew I needed to go down at least 1 needle size.

The pattern calls for a provisional cast on, which I am very comfortable with, and the start of the pattern is wonderfully simple but effective. It wasn’t long before I wash picking up stitches across the collar and starting the raglan increases.

The purling definitely was slower going than the knitting, and it took a while to get to the sleeve separation, but I got there.

I really do like this part, as it looks like the start of a garment.

I ploughed on through the body, which went by in an uneventful haze of stocking stitch, revelling in the bind off. I did a knitted bind off, figuring it didn’t need to be super stretchy. Then it was on to the sleeves.

On one hand, the sleeves seemed to fly by, and yet I felt like I was a resident of sleeve island for yonks. The reality is I think I was on sleeve island for about a week and a bit, which wasn’t too bad considering I was also knitting socks at the same time.

I was so pleased to have this off the needles, and it is going to be a lovely throw on/go to cardigan. I finished it, as you can see in the photo, fairly late one evening.

I put it aside to block. About 3 weeks later, it finally got its bath. What I would say is that this yarn takes forever to dry, and I had forgotten quite how much it bleeds when soaked.

Overall, I was glad I knit this pattern. Because it is so long, it was a bit of a slog, but it is a brilliant beginner friendly pattern. I have to admit, I might have underestimated my knitting skills when picking this pattern, as it was definitely more of a confidence builder than a skill builder. Would I change anything? Now I have worn it a little bit, and have managed to get some pictures of it finished, I don’t know whether it is my shape or not, but I would add in some short row shaping to drop the back a little. That said, I can see I will get a lot of wear out of it, even though I know the yarn is going to pill like a beast.

What’s next, garment-wise? I have been eyeing the Wardie cardigan from my Make Nine list, but decided against it as it is knit in pieces, and plain stocking stitch again. While that one is going to be a skill builder because of the construction, I have a STRIPES! sweater by Andrea Mowry planned.

Gnathan the Gnome – Gnome MKAL 6

Since joining the Rainbow Sock Chronicles boards on Ravelry, I have met some truly wonderful people. And some people who are truly wonderful at enabling! From yarn purchases, to pattern buying and sharing special offers, through to enticing people into other KALs and mystery KALS (MKALs), there is no end to the enabling that goes on. (I am almost certain that I am one of these people too!).

Kristi, my partner in (moderating) crime over on the Sew Sweet Violet boards introduced me to the Imagined Landscapes world of gnomes. It just so happens that a Gnome MKAL was about to start. It just so happened that I had some suitable yarn in stash (no surprise there!). And it just so happens that the previous gnomes are both marvellously punny and cute.

My last MKAL (the Skeindeer Midwintdeer mittens) are still languishing in their project bag, quietly waiting for me to return to them. I will get there, but… Oooh…. Shiny!

I wasn’t sure that an MKAL, alongside a jumper, pair of socks, a shawl and a blanket all actively on the go (not even counting those which are inactively on the go!) was the best idea. But in for a penny, in for a pound, I signed up and even bought a coordinating stitch marker to honour the start.

I had some leftover Rauma Finullgarn from my Mulben Cowl that I decided to use for Gnathan the Gnome. Gnathan boasted cables, and I was interested to see how the Rauma would look with cables.

On 7 May, I cast on to 2.25mm fixed needles, and got going with my magic loop and small cable needle in the pink. I was pleased how it worked up, as I am really not one for magic loop. But just look at those cute little cables!

Clue 2 was released on a drizzly, windy Tuesday, the kind of perfect evening for knitting. It’s a shame my brain just couldn’t switch in to cable mode. I am quite sure that I unknit as much as I knit! Despite getting Clue 1 done in one sitting, I spread Clue 2 out over a couple of evenings.

Instructions at the end of Clue 2 were not to worry about blocking yet. I was keen to get it blocked as the tension was a bit off, and I was hopeful that this would be sorted in the process.

Clue 3 was the beard. I got cracking on the afternoon the clue was released while hub rearranged some furniture in the office. My soundtrack to knitting the beard was bangs, crashes, cuss words and Homeland. The beard was pleasingly simple to knit, and I learnt how to knit a centre double decrease.

After the speedy beard, it was on to the first of two body clues. It’s at this point that I slightly wonkified Gnathan as I started the body a stitch too sooner when I picked up stitches for the body. The side cables don’t line up perfectly, but I think it adds to his charm.

Just look at that super cute moss stitch!

At the end of Clue 5, Gnathan got a bath to block that lovely texture out.

I was a little behind in doing this bit, as I got sidetracked knitting a plain sock. Thankfully, after the blocking on a loo roll and tea towel and being parked on the radiator overnight, Gnathan was ready for arms, a tassel and the stuffing in Clue 6. I

I didn’t want to use plastic pellets for the gnome ballast, so I used aquarium gravel which worked a treat. The closing was a cute touch – I like the spiral.

I knit my first i-cord for the arms. Definitely room for improvement, but I was pleased for my first gnome. I had a “dry fit” before the inevitable assembly.

Clue 7 was released, which was all about the nose and the assembly of Gnathan. I didn’t get this done on the clue drop day, as I went out for dinner with friends for the first time since last summer.

Assembly complete, Gnathan hopped off and up the garden, really for his photoshoot.

Coming back down to earth, he fancied showing off his side cables.

I have loved knitting my first gnome. It has been such an enjoyable and fun little knit that I have plans for more. The next Imagined Landscapes Gnome MKAL arrives in September, and I know now that I will be in.

Rainbow Sock Chronicles: May 2021 – Lean Green Knitting Machine

Lean green knitting machine. Or the month I finished a pair of socks in two weeks. Take your pick!

Of the four months of the Rainbow Sock Chronicles to date, I have had a 50/50 stash/buying ratio. This was one of the stash yarns. I have a feeling this may have been my second ever hand-dyed yarn. I can’t tell you when I came across Gamer Crafting’s yarns, other than to say that I found them on Instagram, which is where I find nearly all of my yarn porn.

I remember being drawn into the yarn by the Gandalf the Gay colourway, which I had started knitting into a Flax Light and was subsequently frogged in February. At the same time as ordering Gandalf the Gay, I also ordered Yoda’s Lightsaber.

When I planned out my yarns for the Rainbow Sock Chronicles, I knew this had a place in the line up. I had also been gifted the Claire Ellen Designs sock collection for this year, and as I was mulling over my yarn/pattern pairing, I knew the pattern would need to be substantial enough to work with this yarn. The Marrakech socks fit that bill.

I was so keen to see how this yarn was going to look once knitted up. It has tiny speckles of orange, purples, blues and reds amongst the vibrant neon greens and greys.

As I was caking the yarn up, I thought it was going to microstripe with the greens and greys. I am all up for a microstripe at the moment, and anything remotely stripey catches my attention.

Unfortunately, my ability to read yarn in a skein and/or cake continues to be off, and the yarn was a totally random variegation. I have to admit, I was quite disappointed and wasn’t so keen on the yarn when it was knit up.

However, I am a big fan of the pattern I chose to knit. Marrakech is knit from the cuff down with a heel flap and gusset. My last two pairs have been toe up, so it was nice to go back to cuff down. The pattern is an 18 row repeat which was easy to memorise and knit through. It also made getting identical socks very simple!

It does need a good block, as the pattern contracts in on itself a little, but I think it looks really good when it has been blocked.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with myself for the rest of the month now! (Well… That’s a bit of a lie, I have other things I want to get off the needles).

Next up: Turquoise for June!

Rainbow Sock Chronicles – Yellow, is it me you’re looking for?

Happy April! Spring is here, and I am loving the brighter evenings.

After the relative brain taxing sock knitting of March, I was keen to turn my hand to an easier pattern. I deliberated a lot, as my yarn choice didn’t “speak” to a specific pattern. Yellow isn’t a colour I wear much of, and I needed to buy a skein specially for this month.

It is surprisingly difficult to find a good hand-dyed yellow, where yellow is the main colour and not a secondary colour. Well, I found it difficult. I could have gone for a commercial yarn, but I didn’t really want a solid colour. In the end, I settled on Strawberry Fields Yarns in the Jelly Beans colourway. It’s fun, and definitely not something I would normally pick.

Pattern wise, I had a few on the shortlist: the Curling Mist Socks by Curious Handmade, the Marrakech Socks by Claire Ellen Designs and I was hoping that the Flossie Socks by Jooles of Sew Sweet Violet would be released.

Jooles very kindly gifted me a copy of the Flossie socks (I help the wonderful Kristi moderate the Rainbow Sock Chronicles board on Ravelry for Jooles) so that kind of decided it for me.

The weekend before Easter, I caked my yarn up. It is so difficult to get a good picture of the yarn – it is quite bright in real life, but the photos always seem to err on the more pastel side.

I didn’t cast on, on the first. My brain was absolute mush from a tough few days at work, so I decided I would cast on on Good Friday instead. In all of Jooles’ patterns, she includes a video link to her beanie toe, so I watched that before getting going. As I was knitting the toe in the Coop Knits Socks Yeah! in Xenon, I figured I would knit both of the toes on the day. I then got going on the foot.

After the very “thinky” pattern of March, I wanted something that was a little easier going and this hit the spot. The twisted stitches were interesting enough to make me engage, but not so complex that I needed tonnes of mental capacity to work it out. I powered through the foot, and turned the first heel on Easter Sunday.

I got a little sidetracked after the smooth going of Sock 1, and didn’t work on Sock 2 for a little while. But when I did get back to it, it does along comfortably.

I really enjoyed seeing the speckles work through the yarn. It kept the interest going throughout.

I cast off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, though I am less keen on how they turned out as the bind off has flared a little. Washed and blocked, I couldn’t help but marvel at the little cables.

In terms of changes I would make if I knit these again (and there is a good chance I might!) – I would knit another 2 or 3 cable repeats on the leg, and I would chose a less defined yarn for the toes. The Coop Knits Socks Yeah! is a nice yarn, but the definition is almost too good and my toe increases look a bit… Untidy?

I would definitely recommend the pattern, wholeheartedly, and I would also recommend the Strawberry Fields Yarn too.

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