‘Ho, Ho, Ho Socks’

Last week I travelled up to Black Sheep Wools near Warrington for the weekend.  I had a lovely time teaching two classes and spent some time in the shop doing a book signing.

If you follow me on Instagram you will see I had such a lovely time, it was great to be back in a wool shop again.  The ladies on the workshops were all lovely (more about that on a future post) and everyone was so friendly and helpful.

Whilst I was there I had been eyeing up the West Yorkshire Spinners ‘Candycane’ Christmas sock wool and, as I had finished all my ‘train’ knitting, I took the opportunity to cast on a new project.  I grabbed the last ball on the shelf, a set of needles and off I went.

Just as well, because I missed my train by one minute and the next was delayed, so I had an hour and a half to wait… as well as my two hour journey home.

I wound off a few sections of colour so I could start with the green and worked the rib.  As I was knitting I thought about how I could make it more interesting and inspire me to finish both socks…

I looked at my scraps and came up with the ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ plan.  It took a couple of goes to get the spacing right but I think it was worth it.

Here is how I did it…

I wound off two sections of white and one of red so that I started the sock with the green.  You can start with whichever colour you choose but you do need two sections of white for the lettering and an extra one of red to finish the last couple of rows of the chart.

This chart is designed for a 60 stitch sock.  It doesn’t matter which sock pattern you use as long as you have those 60 sts.

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Work down to where you want your lettering then start.

When the yarn changes from white to red, work one round in red…

Note:  This round may not start and finish at the beginning of your round.  What you need is one full round of red stitches (Round 1 on the chart)  to start working the letters on the following round.

If you are working on dpns make sure you divide your work over three needles.

Follow the chart for the next six rounds (you have already worked Round 1).  Repeat Round 1 three times across the round.

When you have finished your ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ section.. just carry on knitting your sock by continuing with the white yarn.

This would also work really well on a plain sock if you have some spare contrasting sock yarn.  I would work one round in the contrast colour, work the seven rounds of the chart and work one more round in contrast to make the lettering stand out.

I can’t wait to see what you make, I’ve put a link to this tutorial on Ravelry so please add your projects so I can see your ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ socks!  As you can see from the pictures Spike was rather keen on my new sock too!

 

New ideas… New patterns…

Over the past few years I have got myself a bit of a reputation… for coming up with cute and quirky designs.  I love the challenge of transferring what’s in my head into a final design, and so the story continues with my new patterns.

I’ll start with Line Dried as I made my first version of this five years ago.  I was at Fibre East the last year it was held at Thurleigh, those of you who were there will remember how wet and muddy it was.  I even had to stop off at a garden centre after setting up to invest in a pair of wellies!

When I was looking round the marquees I spotted the lovely Skein Queen and this yarn just jumped out at me (honestly)… I bundled enough to make a sweater in my bag and set to work.  I wanted a cardigan that would be easy to wear and Line Dried was the result.  Since then I have made several different versions and this is the cardigan I had on when I had my picture taken to go in my latest book.  If you have seen me at a show, odds on I was wearing it.

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So, onto Retrofit…

When I was at Edinburgh Yarn Festival last year I had a bit of a ‘spendy wendy’ moment… I just could not resist this gorgeous Merino DK from La Bien Aimee.  The colour is called Pop Grunge and I immediately cast on.  I knew exactly what I wanted, a relaxed sweatshirt shape but without the pulled in rib at the bottom, something I could throw on with jeans and was simple enough to show off the frankly amazing yarn.  Retrofit was the result.

I have spent a while looking for the perfect range of DK yarn for my new patterns, I was looking for a yarn with a high wool content which was easy to care for.  When I saw the Coopknits Socks Yeah DK I realised it fitted the bill perfectly.  The colours are amazing and this green below is one of my favourites.

Each of my new designs has a pattern for child’s sizes as well.  The lovely soft grey Line Dried Mini Me is worn by my youngest daughter Lola, who thoroughly enjoyed being my model.

Once I had re-knitted Retrofit in the Coopknits yarn I fell in love with the design all over again.

Retrofit is worked from the bottom up and in the round, meaning no sewing up!  The hem is slightly ‘dipped’ at the back, making it a very flattering outline.  My gorgeous model for the 6-12 months size of Retrofit Mini Me is Heather’s Grandson Sidney, he is such a happy little chap and there wasn’t one bad picture of him.

So now onto more familiar territory for me and four cute and cuddly animals.  Each patten includes instructions for knitting the pieces flat and, for some parts, working  in the round, excellent if you don’t like sewing up!

I’ll introduce you to Frank Flamingo first, otherwise he may get a bit stroppy, and no one likes a stroppy flamingo!

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Marjorie Elephant loves Strictly and doughnuts but spends a lot of her day calming Frank down…

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Hugo Bear (as you may be able to tell) is rather fond of doughnuts and keeps telling me I have overstuffed his tummy.

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And last, but by no means least, is Dennis Dragon, he is a baby dragon just waiting for his wings to grow.

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However, this isn’t the end of the story, there is one more cardigan and more animals on their way to join these four, I already have the next one on the needles…

So, as you can see, I may have been quiet for a while but I have certainly been busy, I hope you love these new patterns and I can’t wait to see your versions popping up online.

I think I deserve a G&T after this!

Sue x

An Award Winning Weekend

The weekend before last Heather and I packed up my trusty Land Rover and pootled up the M1 and along the M6 to Junction 13 and the brand new show Wool@J13.  Two miles off the motorway and off we went through open fields and farmland, following the signs for the ‘Fun Farm’.

We came across a hive of activity surrounding a large marquee.  As we were one of the first there, we had a willing band of volunteers to help us unload and everything was unpacked in less than five minutes.

This set the mood of the whole show, relaxed, cheerful and well organised.

I was glad to have Heather’s help setting up and within a few hours we were blasting back down the M1 homewardbound.

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The next day I set off on my own for a weekend in Staffordshire.  Slight (huge) panic when I got on the M1 and it said ‘M1 closed between J18 and 19’ but luckily, the sign was wrong!

When I arrived I quickly spotted some of my show friends and managed to purchase a skein of sock yarn from For the Love of Yarn, well, I was on my own all day, so this was my chance to look around!  As you can see, I am cracking on with a gorgeous pair of socks (for me)…

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The show got off to a storming start and I was busy all day, meeting new friends and catching up with a few people I hadn’t seen for a long time.  Everyone was very complimentary about the stand and what I had on offer which was really lovely to hear.

On Saturday I took my trusty pack-up – marmite sandwiches… but on Sunday I treated myself to a ‘Bhaji Butty’ from The Green Canteen which was absolutely delicous.  As you can see, the van looked so inviting.  There was lots of other lovely food on offer at various stands that reminded me of Green Fields at Glastonbury.

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It was lovely to see my friend Clare, especially as this was her first show under her woolly pseudonym The Knackered Psycho!

I bought a few things at the show (would have been rude not to) including a couple of balls of boy coloured sock yarn for my Mum (she only knits socks for my brother) from WoolZone and some amazing herbs from the lovely Urban Herbs.  I got six ordinary herbs to replace the ones my chickens have inhaled and then six unusual ones.  I’m looking forward to trying the Orange Thyme!

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With the show nearly over I was just tucking into my ice cream, kindly bought for me by Julie (Wool Zone) when the marquee went quiet as Ingrid and Val announced the winner of the best stand at the show.

I nearly dropped it when my name was called out, I couldn’t believe it!  I was completely overwhelmed, especially as it was voted for by all the visitors to the show.

So Thank you to Ingrid, Val and their team of trusty volunteers (especially the Sandras), I had a smashing time and can’t wait for next year, when I will be proudly displaying my award, although perhaps not with a puppy peeping over the top of my head 🙂

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The next event I will be at is my own, The Woolly Moo day on Saturday 10th June in the Memorial Hall in Woburn Sands, to find out more have a look at the website, I hope you can join us!

It’s the perfect weather for drinking gin…

Sue x

Yarn Shop Days…

 

This time last year I was busy preparing for Yarn Shop Day at The Knitting Hut.  YSD is a national celebration of bricks and mortar wool shops, organised and promoted by Lets Knit magazine.

In the current climate of everything being just ‘one click’ away (and I have unwittingly found that to be true!) it has become more and more important to support the shops on our High Streets BUT to us knitters/crocheters our yarn shops are essential.  Where else do we get fabulous advice when we need it, to socialise with like-minded people and form the strongest of friendships with other people who ‘get’ what we love.

Wool suppliers are now getting behind this campaign with exclusive colourways only available in your LYS, here is a picture of this year’s special sock yarn colourway from West Yorkshire Spinners, lovely picture courtesy of LYS Alterknit Universe in Cleeve.  The picture also features a free pattern only available from LYS tomorrow.

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Lots of shops run competions and giveaways, together with special offers or limited edition yarns so it’s definitely worth going along.

As you can see, Florence, our knitted cow, can’t help but get in on the act and was in the window all day last year – we couldn’t get her out for weeks!  In our celebrations cake was always involved too and a few of our lovely customers made things especially for the day, making it even more special.

So if you are at a loose end tomorrow and fancy some yarn fun (and cake) seek out your LYS this Saturday.  If you are not sure where your nearest shop is then have a look at the AIYSO website.  ‘The Association of Independent Yarn Shop Owners’ was formed a couple of years ago as a support to independent yarn shops and is doing a fabulous job.  Sometimes it can be quite lonely running a business on your own but AIYSO has put all these yarn shop owners in touch with each other via Facebook so there is always someone there to listen, help and advise.  A bit like the service you would expect from your LYS itself.

It’s times like this that I really miss the shop and so tomorrow, I will be remembering what fun we have had at The Hut over the years  and, who knows, I may even get out to visit my LYS!

Have a lovely knitty (and gin) weekend!

Sue x

A trip to Welsh Wales

Last weekend was Wonderwool Wales and so Heather and I packed up and drove deep into the beautiful Welsh countryside.  I think Wonderwool has to be one of the friendliest shows I have exhibited at, AND THE FOOD!!  What a choice there was.  Heather is vegetarian and I will eat just about anything (although I have certain stipulations when it comes to cheese) and we were both more than well catered for, yum yum!

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As you can see the stand was larger than expected and we worked hard to make it look as full as possible, I was rather pleased that we could attach the washing line of clothes from Knit Me, Dress Me, Love Me to the stand itself, it made an eyecatching display it was lovely to see it making a lot of people smile.

The little nests you can see were an absolute bargain from Waitrose post Easter.  Originally £4 for one tiny and one not so tiny, reduced to just 50p!  I do get very excited about getting a bargain and they were just perfect for the birds.

The two cosy birds in the first picture are the Lovebirds I made for Erika Knight using her gorgeous British Blue Face Leicester DK.  We have a few kits left from the show which I have just put up on the website.

I love the shows we exhibit at, there is nothing quite like it, meeting lots of lovely people and catching up with other exhibitors who we may only see a few times a year, but have become good friends.  The other bonus of course is… SHOPPING!!

I was very restrained at Wonderwool (I know, unusual for me).  I bought some amazing buttons from Maggie and Colin at The Textile Garden, the shell buttons are for a shirt dress and the cute little hand buttons are for a shirt – when I find the right fabric to go with them.

The show was rather chilly but at least gave us the chance to wear ALL our knitwear – at the same time.  It was also the first outing for my new sweater design.  I’m really looking forward to having it ready for test knitting and I also need a name for it, all suggestions welcome! (p.s. I hate having my picture taken).  It is knitted using Merino DK yarn from La Bien Aimee in ‘Pop Grunge’.

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Next year Wonderwool has a wonderful plan, to have a ‘Curtain of Poppies’ all knitted, crocheted and woven by volunteers – each poppy will represent a person from the UK who lost their life in the First World War.  I am definitely going to make a few and if you would like to help HERE is a link with more information and a selection of poppy patterns available to download.

If you are considering a visit to Wonderwool next year, you should, there are roughly 250 exhibitors, lovely food, friendly knitters and beautiful countryside, what more could you want!

Happy Knitting and Gin drinking… Sue x

Easter and bunnies…

Usually, when I write a book with Search Press the idea for the title comes from them.  I am given a brief, my mind starts working and off we go.

But Knit Me, Dress Me, Love Me is a bit different so I thought I’d tell you about where the idea came from.

About five years ago, at The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate I had an idea to make little knitted animals for my girls.  I bought some boucle wool, liberty print fat quarters and pure wool felt.  This all seemed like such a good idea, something I would do as soon as I got home and give them for Christmas….

Well, you know how it is, after knitting most of the pieces for the bunnies and sewing one together, other knitting got in the way and my good intentions came to nothing.

However, two years ago, just before Easter, I had a bright idea.  I could make Easter bunnies for my daughters and their cousins (plus Grandma because I knew she would love it).

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So six bunnies altogether, wearing clothes… and I had (by this time) less than two weeks.

Luckily I work well under pressure.

Well the needles clicked and the sewing machine whirred and, by Easter, there were six finished bunnies, wearing dresses and teeny tiny felt shoes.  I then took a ball of cotton home from the shop and quickly crocheted six little bags designed to hold a Lindt chocolate bunny.

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By this time I as running out of steam but I managed to knit a few mini bunnies so that the girls had something to pop into their bags when they had eaten their little chocolate.

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I’m not sure who had the most pleasure from these bunnies, I think it was me actually!

 

I Love Christmas!

I love Christmas!

Actually what I love the most is the decorations…

There’s nothing better than coming home to a glittering Christmas Tree full of all your favourite baubles and a garland or two!

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This year I have invested in this beautiful misletoe and pine cone garland from one of my favourite shops, Me, Me, Me in Leighton Buzzard.  The robins were an exciting purchase from Ikea, especially when I discovered they came in a pack of 3 for £5, I had an urge to fill my blue bag with boxes of robins…

The knitted decorations you can see peeping through were made in Loveknitting‘s new range of Paintbox yarn.  The brief was for a ‘Winter’ garland, rather than ‘Christmas’.  So I interpreted that as a Winter Woodland Garland and made a star, pine cones, holly sprig, misletoe and a snowflake.

The pattern is available as a free download from Loveknitting at the moment, perfect timing for a last minute Christmas knit.

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The snowflake was particularly tricky to work out.  Yes, a crocheted snowflake is MUCH easier to acheive!  But… after a bit of brainache and frustration I worked out how to do it.

Each ‘arm’ of the snowflake is knitted separately, the stitches left from each one are not cast off and put on a spare needle, all in a row.  Then you thread your working yarn through all the stitches to gather into a star, perfect!

In other news I bought myself a bottle of Baileys at the end of November, well the litre bottle was on special offer…. I have managed to save it until tonight when Christmas really starts, because the children break up from school and my son comes home from University.  Earlier in the week it was joined by a bottle of Chocolate Baileys…

Roll on Christmas!