Tag Archives: crochet

Christmassing Inexpertly

It’s a tricky time here at Twisted Towers. Christmas has completely unexpectedly lumbered into view. I know that some of the wiser amongst you might argue that the fact it’s on the same date every single year does lend it a certain predictability, but I’m telling you, we’ve been caught totally off-guard.

home-made Christmas bauble decoration

Once upon a time (pre-children), I had time to design and paint silly decorations.

Also, we’re not very good at remembering to water the Christmas tree, so the poor thing is shedding needles so fast that we face gathering round a be-baubled Christmas stick on the big day to open our gifts. The twinnage are happy, though. (Don’t worry, we do remember to water/feed them.) They’ve sneaked off with some of the needles, plus the tiny wreathes that I knitted, and some baubles, to make tiny dinosaur egg nests, which I keep finding in obscure corners of the house. Full marks for creativity, boys.

Let’s hope that the catering arrangements are going rather better. The Stoic Spouse largely bans me from the cooker/oven on Christmas Day because – in his words – “If I left it to you, we’d be having cumin-roast turkey with spiced lentils for Christmas dinner. Probably at 10pm.” He does have a point. I do cook a huge tagine on Christmas Eve, though.

Some of my home-made decorations were a mischievous.

Today, I am finishing writing my Christmas cards, and feeling smug because I’m a day ahead of the last posting date. It’s ever-so-slightly tempting to write “Happy Christmas 2017” in them, thus skipping a year and instantly moving from last in the Great Christmas Card Race to FIRST PLACE (by about eleven months).

So I’m dealing with the chaos of Christmas in the same way that I deal with everything remotely challenging, by interspersing frenzied last-minute activity with picking up my knitting for “just one more row” and writing a blog post. That explains all this progress on the jumper, anyway. Here’s a sleeve:-

And on that note, I must go and finish the cards. Merry Christmas, my fine fibrous friends!

 

 

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The Voice Of Wisdom. (That’ll Be You.)

You were right, of course. All of you. That swatch was never going to work.

Thank you for your comments. Can you believe it, we had a near-unanimous consensus. That never happens online. What even is the point of the internet if you can’t damage your keyboard by violently punching out vitriol like HOW VERY DARE U IMPLY THAT MAGIC LOOP IS BETTER THAN DPNS!!!!!!!!! I HOPE MOTHS EAT YOUR MERINO AND THE CAT CHEWS YOUR NEEDLES!!!!!! You folks are way too sane and reasonable to be pootling about on the web.

Anyway, you spoke as one – or at least as only one-and-a-bit – and you were right. Yes, my plan to knit this fancy jumper (pronounced s-w-e-a-t-e-r outside these shores) in variegated yarn was a very bad plan indeed.

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I love the fitted, scoop-neck shape of it, though. And I love the luscious shades (with NO PINK – hurrah!) in this Adriafil Knitcol, so I’m keeping the form of the jumper but knitting it in stockinette. Oh, and I’m working most of it in the round to minimise purling, and adding the tiniest hint of shaping at the waist. What can possibly go wrong? (Don’t answer that, please. Let me live in my cheery, delusional, bubble for a wee while longer.)

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Obviously it would be a very bad idea to get caught up in knitting a new jumper this week, when there is so much else to do. Yeah, I’d never be weak-willed enough to do something like that. Oh, wait:-

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So, my friends, this jumper may turn out to be lovely, or it my turn out to be a disastrously shouty cacophony of colour, in which case I’ll just wear it around our freezing house to scare the spiders*/bailiffs/burglars.**

I’ve made jumpers in Adriafil Knitcol before: small ones, for the twinnage, and they were lovely (the jumpers, I mean, not the twinnage. The twinnage are monstrous.) Exhibit A of woolly delight:-

adriafil knitcol

…And travelling further back in time, Exhibit B:-

adriafil knitcol

But I had to wait (and wait) until the boys had grown out of all of those before making myself one, because wearing the same clothes as your children would be… well I’m not sure what it would be, but I think we can agree that it would not be indicative of a healthy family dynamic. That said, we’re not above wearing wellies-on-a-theme:-

Rainbow wellies

All of the twinnage’s Knitcol knitwear has now been outgrown and/or has felted when the washing machine broke down mid-cycle (which was NOT AT ALL infuriating, as you can imagine). So I’m free to wear Knitcol. Hurrah!

My headless friend would like to show you some progress:-

Am I mad to think that it might just work?

 

*Just had to Google ‘Do spiders have colour vision?’ after writing that. In case you’re interested, the chunky, lazy, ones hanging around in cobwebs on your ceiling waiting for lunch to come to them, don’t. If a spider tells you that it can see colours, run away now because it’s probably one of the more go-getting types of arachnid, such as a jumping spider. Also – and potentially of more concern – it spoke to you. It’ll be asking you how to access the World Wide Web, next.

**Actually, the twinnage have got that one covered, in their six-year-old style. A large notice has appeared on one of our upstairs doors, saying ‘Burglers [sic] are stoopid. And ther is an il dog in this hous’. Just for the record, we have never had a dog, ailing or otherwise. But the sign seems to be working, because we haven’t been burgled.

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So Shall We Find Out Which Lucky Folk Have Won The Giveaway?

I know. It’s been a fair few days since the gong sounded, marking the end of the It’s A Stitch Up giveaway. (To be fair, the gong didn’t sound particularly loudly, since it’s made entirely of yarn.) In meagre defence of my tardiness, we’ve had the inspectors in at the hospital where I work this week, and I had to pop across the Severn Bridge into south Wales, in order to go and endure the viva exam for my MPhil degree in (novel-)writing. The viva went surprisingly well. And no, the novel has absolutely nothing to do with knitting or crochet.

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

So let’s get on with the happy job. As announced here, two lucky folk amongst you are to win a gorgeous 100g skein of Awesome Aran wool, as well as the pattern with which to knit it, all courtesy of the over-generosity of Suzie at It’s A Stitch-Up.

Altogether, there were 280 entries to the contest. Wowzers! Thanks to each and every one of you for taking part. And if you’re not lucky enough to win this time, do go and have a browse amongst the goodies available through Suzie’s website. (Please note, I cannot accept responsibility for the ensuing damage to your credit card. Seriously. I can’t.) Oh, and there are more giveaways coming up soon, so you’ll have more chances to win stuff after Christmas.

So let’s find out who’s won. Usual Twisted procedures apply: all entries have been numbered, then the oracle that is random.org has been consulted for the numbers of the winning entries. OK?

So who exactly are the mysterious people hiding behind these numbers? Step forward and take a bow, M. Curran and Sheila Harvey-Larmar! CONGRATULATIONS! I shall be in touch pronto to ask for your address which I shall pass on to Suzie so that she can send you your prize.

Right, I’d best get on with starting my Christmas preparations. Oops. This is poor, even by my low standards. Still, the kitchen is sporting little touches of festive cheer…

…And we’ve enacted the annual ritual of going to buy the tree, much to the excitement of the twinnage.

…And Rudolph ‘the buck stops here’ the reindeer has come downstairs from his usual spot on the wall of the guest room.

knitted reindeer head

…Also, my friend has been making the sweetest little decorations using the husks of real silk cocoons. How clever is she?! Look! She takes orders if you ask her very nicely.

Anyway, judging by how many of you joined me on the naughty bench after my last post – sorry it was such a squeeze – it seems that I’m not alone in my festive tardiness. I think I’d better go and buy a bigger bench.

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Don’t Try This At Home, Folks…

YES! THE LOVELY, YARNY GIVEAWAY IS STILL OPEN FOR JUST A FEW MORE DAYS! ENTER HERE!

Meanwhile, would you like to make some super-easy Christmas decorations? See the links under the photos throughout this post.

easy knitted christmas trees free pattern

Christmas trees pattern HERE.

It has been brought to my attention by my children, as well as via the subtlest of hints on social media, that it’s nearly Christmas.

knitted christmas decoration candle easy free pattern

Knitted candle pattern HERE.

Now I realize that you and I may be sitting on opposite sides of the table regarding the matter, but personally I have a very strict routine for yuletide preparations. This comprises persistent denial – bordering on an ‘I’m too cool for all that’ attitude – until roughly the 15th December, followed by ten days of ‘AAAAARGH! PRESENTS! DECORATIONS! FOOD! CARDS! INVITATIONS! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGH!’ hysteria, with precious time wasted as I try to extract a definitive answer from the Royal Mail about whether or not there’s any chance of them laying on a time-travelling postal service that will enable my Christmas cards to be delivered a week before they were actually sent, thus arriving at their destinations in time.

easy crochet christmas tree pattern

…And the crochet version, too. HERE!

By about the 20th, I reach a peak state of OK, I CONCEDE THAT YOU WERE RIGHT, ALL YOU SUPER-EARLY CHRISTMAS-PREPPERS. I BOW TO YOUR WISDOM AND SHALL ATTEMPT TO COPY YOU IN FUTURE. But the pain of Christmas preparation – just like the pain of childbirth – is eventually forgotten, and thus the sorry process of my procrastination repeats itself the following year.

crochet candle pattern

Crocheted candle, HERE!

Truly, I’m trying to change, but I’m constitutionally incapable of beginning any deadline-dependent task until the very last possible moment, and I always underestimate how much time will be needed. In my head, writing down a task on a to-do list constitutes 90% of the work of actually completing it, despite this belief having been proven wrong on many, many occasions.

knitted ‘paper’ chain HERE.

Fortunately, the Stoic Spouse is aware of my idiocy, and takes charge of the ahead-of-time tasks such as ordering the turkey, baking the Christmas cake, and telling the twinnage that no, Santa will not be able to bring either of them a live dinosaur, and no, it can’t possibly be true that George-at-school is getting a REAL LIVE T-REX AS A PET AND IT’S NOT FAIR THAT WE CAN’T HAVE ONE TOO, although if the Royal Mail does manage to establish a time-travelling delivery service then Mummy and Daddy might just reconsider the matter, but only if the twinnage both promise to eat up all of their brussels sprouts from now until the end of eternity.

Slightly crazy Santa, HERE.

Anyway.

It’s Christmas.

If you celebrate, I do hope that your preparations are going well. And if you haven’t started yet, do come and sit here beside me on the Naughty Bench.

Crochet 'paper' chain Christmas decoration

Crochet ‘paper’ chain Christmas decoration HERE.

Just in case you’re in the mood to knit or crochet some easy-to-make decorations, I’m scattering pictures and links to my free festive patterns throughout this post, just like Lego bricks sprinkled on a freshly-tidied sitting room floor. Don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of time to finish making them before the big day.*

easy knitted christmas wreath pattern

And you’ll be needing a tiny knitted wreath, HERE.

Enjoy, and happy needling/hookery. If you need me, I’ll be under the table with a bottle of affordable-yet-astonishingly-quaffable red wine, frantically Googling ‘Last minute gifts for difficult-to-impress husbands’, even though Continue reading

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It’s Winter: Bring Yarn

There’s still time to enter the awesome yarn/pattern giveaway, right here and here! (For your bonus Facebook entry, don’t forget to ‘like’ the ‘Yarn’s overall Facebook page, not just the post about this contest.)

Wa-hey, it’s December!

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I remember my teacher at primary school telling our class that we Brits are all obsessed with talking about the weather. So it’s my patriotic duty to say right now, Man, it’s COLD! In fact, the mercury has shrunk so shiveringly low in the glass that it’s practically impossible for folk to pass each other in our lane without one of them saying, “A bit chilly, isn’t it?” and the other responding with an exaggerated shiver to imply the profound wisdom and truth of this insight. Also, it’s impossible to go out without encountering the delicious smell of woodsmoke, even at 9am.

winter berries frost

Proper cold does at least mean pretty, though frustratingly, it usually means pretty viewed at 70mph as I hurry along the motorway to work, thus forbidden by both the law and the urge to remain alive from stopping to take pictures. Sorry.

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Still, I walked back from the school run yesterday with a friend, and even our short stroll yielded some prettiness as we crunched across the frosty grass.

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I just wish we could have some SNOW! (The long-range forecast is for cold but dry, so snow is unlikely. Again.)

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Meanwhile on a knittier note, I’m proceeding with that project… or rather Mother Twisted (my mum) is. Do you remember the lavender I made for the garden portion from some Stylecraft Batik?

make lavender crochet garden embroidery

Well she’s made some, too! Thank you Mum.

lavender

…So I’m off to plant it in the crochet garden. More pictures to follow!

Stay warm, people. 🙂

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The Perfect YARN GIVEAWAY For A Winter’s Day

On a cold and dull* November day, what do you need to warm the cockles of your heart? Well, duh: lovely hand-dyed yarn, of course, and a pattern with which to knit it. So don’t you reckon it’s time for another giveaway, open worldwide?

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

 

Enter from stage left, Suzie, bearing skeins of marvellously colourful wool.

Twisted: Hello, Suzie.

Suzie: Hello, Twisted.

Twisted (shivering): Cold, isn’t it?

Suzie (also shivering): Gosh yes, it is cold… as one might quite reasonably expect at this time of year.

Twisted: Indeed. Shall we stop speaking as though we’re characters in an exceptionally badly-written play?

Suzie: Yes, lets. Would you like some yarn?

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Suzie is based in east London, from where she runs her indie yarn/pattern company, It’s A Stitch Up. IASU started out as a blog, and her tutorials and patterns rapidly became super-popular. Last year, she started selling her hand-dyed yarn, too, shipping worldwide to meet ever-increasing demand. Her yarn is ethically-produced (in terms of animal welfare and environmental impact), British-spun, and dyed with inspiration from her surroundings, especially from the natural world. Yup, I’m struggling to find anything not-to-like, too.

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Suzie got in touch with me recently to talk about her yarn. As it happens, she’s a friend-of-a-friend, but that’s beside the point. We talked particularly about her Awesome Aran (think worsted-weight, USians), which is spun from British-produced wool from the always-haughty-looking Bluefaced Leicester sheep.

blue-faced leicester

Superior-Sheep Knows It’s Superior.
(Photo credit: Andrew Curtis.)

Have you knitted or hooked with Bluefaced Leicester? It’s soft and it’s tough (in a good way, I promise) which is why it’s often used for sock yarn. It has quite a lustrous appearance, too. Suzie sent me a sample skein, along with the pattern for her Shipwreck Cove cowl. Look at the very subtle hint of variegation in this semi-solid colourway. It’s called ‘Heart Of Glass’, and it’s available in 100g (3.5oz) skeins. It feels soft and dense, and it’s very cosy against the skin. Look!

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Anyway, I knitted the cowl. Maybe my gauge was off, but I ran out of yarn just before the end, so I decided to use some spare yarn I had lying around to make the cord and the pom-poms. (It was cotton, so it separated beautifully to make the pom-poms extra-fluffy.)

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Ah, pom-poms. I hadn’t made them since childhood.**

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Fortunately, I could just about remember what to do. (Yeah, I know you can buy pom-pom makers but really, two doughnuts of cardboard work just fine.) Place the pieces of card together, wind yarn (doubled, quadrupled, or whatever to save time) around and around until you can’t fit it through the centre any more or until your layer of yarn is looking nicely thick. Use a crochet hook to pull the yarn through the centre hole if needed. I also used a crochet hook to wedge the yarn in place whilst I began to cut every strand of yarn around the perimeter of the disks.

how to make pom-poms

Then, when you’ve cut every strand, you’ll need to pull the cardboard disks apart VERY SLIGHTLY to enable you to wind a piece of yarn around all your strands and tie a knot that’s tighter than any knot you’ve ever previously tied in your life.

how to make pom-poms

Now you can remove the card, fluff up your lovely pom-pom, and give it a light trim where needed. Do NOT allow anyone with perfectionist tendencies to complete this stage, as they will trim and trim (and trim) until there’s nothing left.

how to make pom-poms

Isn’t it cutesome? (Oughtn’t I to be taken outside and shot for crimes against language, having used the ‘word’ cutesome?)

how to make pom-poms

And here, expertly modelled by my headless assistant, is the finished cowl. It’s very cosy. And pretty.

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If you browse the It’s A Stitch Up website, you can see all the rich shades that Suzie has dyed in Awesome Aran, as well as her other yarns. She also sells knitting kits, her own knitting patterns, and vintage haberdashery.

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But let’s talk about the giveaway, because it’s a good’un, thanks to Suzie’s extreme generosity. She is offering TWO shivery-but-yarn-loving readers of this blog from anywhere in the world the chance to win a 100g skein of Awesome Aran, and the cowl pattern to go with it. See? I told you it was good.

Usual Twisted contest conditions apply. To enter, leave a comment at the bottom of this post. To gain an additional bonus entry, visit this blog’s Facebook page, ‘like’ the page and leave a comment on the post about this giveaway, with some way of reaching you if you win – Raverly username, for example.

The contest is open from RIGHT NOW until 12.00 midday (UK time) on Saturday 10th December 2016. After this, a random number generator will be used to select two lucky winners, whose details will be passed to Suzie so that she can contact them and arrange delivery of the prizes. Good luck!

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman.

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman.

∗ The weather is now scuppering the mood of this blog post by suddenly being sunny. Still it’s cold. Very cold. You’ll need knitwear.

∗∗…when I used to make big pom-pom critters with stuck-on eyes, and arms made of pipe-cleaners. They were irredeemably naff, so let us speak of them no more.

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If Freud Were A Knitter

The very last thing that I should be doing right now is beginning a new piece of knitting, just for fun.

So… you can probably guess what I’m doing. If you’re familiar with the Freudian analytic terms, ‘superego’, ‘ego’, and ‘id’, my knitting is, right now, all id. To clarify: your superego is that irritating voice in your head that earnestly lectures you about the wisdom of washing and blocking your gauge swatches before you measure them. Yeah, I tell that voice to shut up, too, especially when it later murmurs ‘I told you so’ as you try to squeeze your full-ish frame into the micro-cardigan that you’ve ended up creating because your tension was way off. Nobody likes a smart-arse.

adriafil knitcol

Your id is the part of you that WANTS TO GO TO THE YARN SHOP RIGHT NOW AND BUY ALL THE PRETTIES, ALL OF THEM RIGHT NOW! Successful adulting mostly involves getting that voice to quieten down a little, because it’s 9.00 on Monday morning and you really ought to put in an appearance at your pesky head-of-nuclear-physics-for-NASA job, and anyway NASA doesn’t pay so well that you can buy ALL THE YARN, ALL OF IT! I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT NOW!

Sigh. If you have small children, then you’ll be very familiar with the operation of the id.

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Sitting awkwardly between these two extremists and wishing it could be somewhere else entirely, is the ego. That’s the voice that says ‘Look, just put in a few hours at your nuclear physics job, and then you can go and buy one – or possibly two – skeins of moderately-priced wool at the yarn shop, OK?

It’s generally a good thing if the ego gets a hefty amount of say in what happens, because the id will drain your bank account and alienate your friends, and the superego is that character that you really don’t want to get stuck next to at a party. So for a fully functioning ship, you should let the ego take the helm fairly often.

…So I’ve messed up, there. Here’s my new yarn. Adriafil Knitcol pure wool DK-weight, in case you’re wondering, purchased when I stupidly gave my id custody of my credit card for a while. And the reason for this yarn purchase? I was seduced by a jumper pattern in a knitting magazine.

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There are lots of jumper patterns that I can scroll right past, because they’re baggy and unflattering, especially in the sleeves. But this one looks nicely fitted. It’s in the current issue of Simply Knitting magazine, here in the UK.

The plan is to make it in this gorgeous variegated Adriafil Knitcol yarn, which may or may not work. I’m gauge swatching, (yeah I listen to my superego a bit, sometimes…) and I’m trying to work out whether the reverse stockinette ‘background’ to the pattern is going to look awful and messy in such shade-shifting yarn.

Hmm, that's not really working, is it?

Hmm, that’s not really working, is it?

Because of course in reverse stockinette, you’ve got all those purl bumps to contend with, which can look super-messy if they’re a different colour from their surroundings. Compare the picture above with the reverse of the swatch-in-progress.

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Hmm, I’m not sure whether this works. If it doesn’t, I’ll just have to find an alternative, right-side-stockinette pattern for the yarn, and rip out what I’ve done in order to begin again (she writes, as though ripping out a few hours’ work will hardly cause any emotional pain at all).

So, um, may I humbly ask for your opinion on this weighty matter please?

Also, don’t you think it’s time for a (worldwide) giveaway of beautiful, beautiful yarn with accompanying patterns? Yup, I thought so too. Stay tuned, people, because there’s one coming up within the next week or two. Hurrah!

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‘Head Over Heels’ Sock Yarn Review

See these?

head over heels stylecraft sock yarn review

These are happy feet.

If it weren’t for the fact that they’re pointing skywards, then they’d probably be dancing. Badly. So be glad that they’re safely away from the ground.

The reason for their joy is no doubt obvious. It involves some splendidly colourful new sock yarn. You may have heard already, but a few months ago, Stylecraft launched a range of 4-ply sock yarn called Head Over Heels. It’s 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon, and it comes in six different marvellously mountain-monikered colourways (Eiger, Everest, Fuji, Kilimanjaro, Matterhorn, and Olympus, in case you were wondering). In the photo above, the completed sock is Eiger (my personal favourite), and the sock-in-progress is Fuji.

picmonkey-collage

I was fortunate to be sent samples of both these shades earlier this year, but I held off posting about it because I wanted to thoroughly road-test the stuff before writing about it. The outcome? I like it. And so do my feet. I enjoyed the slow, leisurely shifts in colour.

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I knitted these socks (four of them, two in each colourway) everywhere, walking to collect the twinnage from school, and on trains and buses, and in the village pub. Socks-in-progress using yarn that does its own colour-changing thing make perfect out-and-about projects, because they’re much more discreet and portable than – say – an afghan. I still looked like an oddball knitting as I wandered the village, but at least I was a semi-discreet oddball.

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I brought the fourth-and-final sock to knit on the bus journey to collect my new car today (bye bye Stinkwagon!) This turned out to be a good thing, because the bus driver must have missed the bit of the training where they tell them to confine their driving mostly to the road, and instead he seemed to have just a little difficulty distinguishing between road and kerb/pavement/verge. The other project I’d brought with me was some complicated fair isle, which proved near-impossible on the top deck of a wildly-swaying double-decker bus. Top tip, people: don’t attempt complex knitting upstairs on a bus, especially when the driver is a bit reckless.

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A basic sock is just fine, however. In fact, the sock was such a good distraction during the more unnerving parts of the journey that I accidentally overshot with the foot section and have thus created a sock that would be absolutely perfect for a rather elegant giant who is possessed of extremely long but slender feet. Know anyone who’s like that? Me neither. Time to rip back a few rounds, I guess.

knitting on the tube

And I will knit them on a train, and I will knit them in the rain, and I will knit them on a bus, and I will knit without much fuss, and I will channel Dr Suess, and hope my knitting ain’t too loose.

That’s not the fault of the yarn, of course, so let’s get back to the review.

So as you can see, the stuff knits up nicely, and I didn’t come across a single knot. Yay! This is a personal thing, but I wish, wish, wish, that more lusciously variegated yarns would be made WITHOUT PINK! Why, why, why, does everything have to include blimmin’ pink?! Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. And yeah, I’m probably in the minority.

running and knitting in public

And I will knit whilst on a run, and I will knit out in the sun…

It’s reasonably soft, and being superwash, it’s pretty tolerant of your washing machine’s general grudge against all fabrics. As you can see from the images below, the length of the repeat varies between colourways, so you can find the yarn that best suits your project, whether you’re knitting socks or crocheting a shawl.

stylecraft head over heels sock yarn review

Images in this collage courtesy of Stylecraft.

  • Head Over Heels is available from major shops and online sellers, and comes in 100g balls. In the UK, it’s typically priced around £6.50-£7.00, so cheaper than many sock yarns.
  • Needle recommendation: 2.25mm-3.25mm.
  • 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon.
  • 100g = 400m.
  • Gauge: 28 stitches / 36 rows.
  • No, it’s not hand-dyed by eunuchs under the light of a full moon, BUT it’s way more affordable than eunuch-yarn could ever hope to be. And it’s soft.

So what are you waiting for?

log fire wine knitting hygge

 

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The Best Knitting Blogs (IMHO)

The best knitting blogs out there are marvels of inspiration and wit.* Ditto the best crochet blogs of course, but today’s post is unashamedly needle-biased.

So whilst we sit here stitching beside the fire, I hope you don’t mind if I show you a few sites that you may or may not have seen before. If you’re a hooker and not a needler, do stick around because regardless of which side of the yarn fence you pitch your tent, there are some mightily inspiring knitting-related words and pictures out there. I’ll just sling another log on the fire to stave off the worst of the hypothermia whilst we talk.

log fire

Oh, and help yourself to a drink, my fine fibrous friend. You’ll have to try and ignore the banging noise: I think the twinnage have locked the Stoic Spouse in the cellar again.

And so, to the matter of knitting blogs. First, let us fly our imaginary aeroplane (whose yarn-bombed exterior somehow doesn’t impair its aerodynamic performance even one jot) to Toronto, home of long-term Canadian blogger, the Yarn Harlot. She knits fast and beautifully, she spins, and she’s a woman who, frankly, could write about doing the laundry on a wet Wednesday and still raise a smile with her understated, wry humour. There’s nary a hint of anything twee or cutesy on her blog, and I love her all the more for that, although I realize that others would disagree. Also, having stayed and worked** in Toronto for three months a couple of decades ago, I’m always happy to read about the place.

knitting blog the yarn harlot

Where shall we go next?

How about Scotland? Scotland is good. And its Highlands are home to Kate Davies, academic who – following a stroke – turned knitting designer and yarn producer. Hers is a rare and precious talent for colour-work design, and her blog is also full of luscious photographs taken by her husband.

kate davies designs knitting blog

Screenshot from: https://katedaviesdesigns.com/2016/10/28/excellent-women/

Whilst we’re in Scotland, take a look at jenacknitwear.co.uk: she loves to talk about knitting, and photograph knitting, and think about knitting, and read about knitting, (do you think there might be a bit of a theme in her life?) and, well, knit. If you feel the same, you’ll like her blog.

Zooming over the Atlantic once again, we land in Arkansas, USA, the home of knitthehellout, home of lots and lots of beautiful knitting that’ll make you sigh with happiness. Whilst we’re Stateside, let’s take a look at knittingnuances too, interesting for the technicalities of knitting and how to use those to your best yarny advantage.

knitting nuances blog

Screenshot from knittingnuances blog

Of course, there’s the marvellous techknitting.com, for when you need really clear instructions on how to do the clever stuff with your needles.

Handknittedthings offers beautifully photographed knits. And whilst we’re back in Britain, have you read thegeekyknitter?

geeky knitter blog

Screenshot swiped from http://www.thegeekyknitter.co.uk/

And slightly cheaty, here, because they’ve been blogging about crochet a lot too, recently, but I can’t resist the wonderful Scandi creativity of Arne and Carlos. If you love stranded colour-work, you’ll adore their designs. I had a moment of feeling star-struck when I saw them at the Knitting And Stitching Show in London last year:-

arne and carlos knitting and stitching show

Rubbish photo because I didn’t want to seem like the sort of person who would take photos of her knitting idols, despite the fact that this was exactly what I was doing.

Want some more? OK. There are so many lovely knitting blogs. Here are just some of them:-

Dramatic Lyric

The Woolly Adventures Of A Knitting Kitty (although she’s taking a break at the moment)

Nittin’ Ninja

A Kingfisher Morning. Written by a knit/yarn/design industry insider: she’s fascinating and her photos are stunning.

The Snail Of Happiness. Knitting and environmental activism. I like.

Katie Writes Stuff, so you can read stuff.

Nana Cathy

I could go on, but the hour is late, the wine bottle is empty, and I’d better go and let the Stoic Spouse out of the cellar. Happy blog-reading, peoples!

 

∗ Gonna go out on a limb, here, and say that if you’re witty and articulate with a really dry sense of humour, and an aversion to clichés, and you knit, please start a blog.

** Demonstrating and selling optical illusions to the crowds in a shopping mall: it’s fair to say that I didn’t find my vocation that year. Toronto is awesome, though.

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Weekending, With Added Yarn

Well it’s been a hunkering-down-for-winter sort of weekend. Saturday was Bonfire Night, of course*:-

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(*For the benefit of non-UK readers, this is when we commemorate the attempt in 1605 by an enterprising but treasonous chap called Guy Fawkes and several of his bezzies to blow up the Houses Of Parliament using barrel-loads of gunpowder. The plot was foiled, and poor Guy Fawkes got a proper telling-off (and executed). We mark this occasion annually by lighting fireworks and by setting fire to stuff, including effigies of Fawkes himself, although given that he lived in those dark ages that pre-dated Facebook, most of us aren’t quite certain what he looked like. He is generally assumed to have sported some impressive millinery: don’t pretend that you wouldn’t want a hat like this:-)
Nice hat. Shame about the attempt to bring down the government.

Nice hat. Shame about the attempt to bring down the government.

We took the twinnage to the village fireworks display, wearing all of our knitwear at once. (Let me tell you that the ‘Thermal‘ jumper is very warm, what with all that air-trapping waffle stitch that took eleventy million hours to knit.)

Wow! Fireworks! Some of them look almost floral in these shots, a bit like Dan Bennett’s fabulously stylized flora paintings that I’ve mentioned before.

fireworks-1

The weekend continued with the twinnage helping the Stoic Spouse make the Christmas cake, whilst I scurried off to Oxford for a haircut. (It’s been nearly two years since the last one: I am deeply un-fond of haircuts, so I was slightly sulking at this colossal waste of time.) What on earth could I do to pass the time on the bus to Oxford? Oh hang on, I know:-

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I arrived stupidly early, so went for a wander around Christ Church Meadow, cos there’s nothing like a spot of hypothermia to kick-start your weekend. All was pretty, as is its wont:-

ox

I made a friend:-

dux

These days I don’t go into the centre of Oxford much, but the place feels like a kind of lodestone because so much of my adult life has happened there: studying, working, more studying, parties, relationships, first flat, meeting the Stoic Spouse. There isn’t a street or a pub or a view that doesn’t have some kind of memory attached. In autumn especially, it’s easy to feel nostalgic for student days, which is a bit stupid because I don’t especially want to go back to being a cash-strapped socially-awkward 18-year-old with terrible dress-sense, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. (I still wouldn’t say boo to a goose: geese are mean. But these days, I would say boo to a person.) So on this occasion, after being relieved of most of my hair, I wasn’t too regretful to leave Oxford and head back to my 43-year-old life in the village.

By the time I got home to the brewery, it was mightily chilly, so we were glad to see the log-man arrive to deliver this lot. The twinnage helped me to stack it:-

Happiness is a well-stocked log-store.

Happiness is a well-stocked log-store.

…Which naturally led on to this:-

firepix

…and more knitting, of course, but you’d probably already guessed that.

Not a bad weekend, in all. How was yours?

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Filed under Outdoors