Tuesday, 13 October 2015

New Collection: As Autumn Falls

Autumn is my favourite season, and October one of my favourite months.  I adore the changing colour of the trees, the rapid change from peaceful green to burning reds, oranges & yellows.  As I've mentioned before, we chose our flat because of how close to the Kelvin & botanic garden it is, a lovely river which flows almost unnoticed in the west end of Glasgow through leafy green avenues, passing by a wonderful arboretum. 
I'm not sure if people really realise the arboretum is there, it's always lovely and quiet, even on the warmest of sunny days, tucked away across the road at the back of the botanic gardens.

It's from this changing of seasons, from the turning of the leaves and the crispy drop in temperature, that the Autumn collection is derived (here on rav). 

Front centre of "Baile" cardigan, as below
Comprised of a golden brown/orange cardigan - Baile, two gorgeous hats inspired by hay bales and golden twigs - Bulgurwheat & Slipthatch, and last but certainly not least, the Emmer shawl - a slightly more sombre pink/brown shawl, inspired by empty stalks and leafless branches. 

The entire collection is knitted in beautiful malabrigo yarns; a super soft merino for the shawl, superwash merino for cardigan (sensible), and silky soft merino/silk for the lighterweight hat with a single spun worsted beauty for the heavier weight hat.

Emmer- I wanted emmer to be loghtweight but warm, so used twisted stitches and occasional yarn overs to add detail to this delicate but robust shawl.  Using 150g of 4ply, it's just the right size for wrapping around your shoulder when those cold October winds begin to blow!


Baile - I wanted this cardigan to look complex whilst being very simple to knit, and think we've managed!  The front panels are a short repeat, easily knitted with only basic knowledge of ssk, k2tog and yo. 
Charts are written out as well, so if confused you can always use both!  

Slipthatch - this hat blocked beautifully.  The woven stitch creates a dense fabric in this worsted yarn - this hat is toasty!!  It's inspited by hay bales and thatched rooves and warm autumnal fun.


Bulgurwheat - after that toaster of a hat I needed something more delicate - how about one which reminds me of bare stems and golden stems of flowers long gone? 


On Ravelry the patterns are individually priced.  £9 for the 4-piece collection - I think ravelry adds tax to this depending on where you are! 

If there's enough interest, maybe we could run a wee knit-along in the Ravelry group? 

Which new item is your favourite??  What's your favourite time of year, and if it's Autumn, is it for different reasons to me?

Friday, 4 September 2015

DIY: Kitchener Stitch

Kitchener stitch is a method by which to join two live edges of your knitting.  It's particularly useful for top-down socks, because it doesn't leave a bothersome seam at your toes.  I also use it at shoulders, because this technique gives an almost invisible finish, making the shoulder look like one continuous piece of knitting.  It's not the strongest seam, but I've yet to have any issues with my shoulders unravelling...

To do this technique, you'll need to get set up with:
tapestry/yarn needle
two sets of live stitches on their respective needles, wrong sides facing, with needle points facing the same direction

The first few times you use kitchener stitch you might feel like the tension is completely off, or that it's incredibly uneven.  This will probably just improve with practice, but a good tip is to remember not to pull your stitches too tight - there's a great draw to do this, but don't give in!

Starting - for the first st on each side you want to do the following:

Hold your wrong sides together, with needle points facing the same direction.
1. pop tapestry needle through 1st stitch on closest needle, purlwise.  Pull needle and yarn though, but leave the stitch on the needle.
2. pop needle through first st on back needle, knitwise. Again, leave st on needle and pull yarn through.


Continuing - for the rest of the stitches until the ones on the end, you'll want to do this:
1. Needle into first st on front needle, knitwise.  Slip stitch off needle. 
2. Needle into next st on front needle, purlwise.  Don't slip stitch off needle.  Pull yarn through. 
3. Needle into first st on back needle, purlwise.  Slip st off needle.
4. Needle into next st on back needle, knitwise.  Don't slip stitch off needle. Pull yarn through.

Repeat until 1st remains on each needle.

As you knit, your work will start to look like this in the image below - with a little practice your seam should look like just another row of knitting.  Pause every so often to adjust tension in your stitches, you can always do them loose individually and tighten them at regular intervals by pulling on your working yarn as required.

You want to keep kitchener-ing until you have one st left on each needle.

For your final stitches, you want to do step 1, then step 3 above. 
Now you have all the joy of sewing in your ends left.

Hopefully this was helpful!
I have a new DK cardigan pattern coming out on 1st October which uses this technique - please let me know (owlprintpanda@gmail.com) if you'd like to test-knit!

What have you been knitting recently?  Any favourite seams?

Friday, 28 August 2015

Tea-riffic Night Out

I can only apologise for title-punning, but I'm really rather excited about an upcoming event which I wanted to share with you!!

Pictures (c) Clare Devine

Last year, Clare Devine launched a 'Tea Collection' containing several yummy hats.  This autumn she plans to complete the collection with some new hats, which are created in beautiful yarn (as always) hand-dyed by Jess of Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.  

The pair are hosting a Tea Party at Pekoe Tea in Edinburgh.  It'll apparently involve tea, tea cocktails(?!) and nibbles.  The owner of Pekoe tea will be telling everyone about the tea, where it comes from, interesting things etc.  Yarn wise, there'll be lots of hat samples, yarns and patterns to play with!

There are two options to attend, the 'with yarn and patterns & baggie' version, and the tea only version.  I'm tempted to tell you not to be mad and that the second isn't a real option, but in the spirit of equal chances and all that, the two tickets are as follows:

Without Yarn:
 “Tea Tasting Experience” (or a Tea Cocktail of your choice) and plenty of chance to chat to Jon about the magical world of tea.

With Yarn:

The Tea is between 7 and 9pm on the 17th of October, and tickets are available via the Ginger Twist website.   If you'd like more details about the event you can find a lovely blog post by Clare

I'll need to make sure I clear the needles before the middle of October...  
Is anyone else going??

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Book Review: Sockupied Fall 2015

Despite being woken up at the crack of dawn this morning (why are the seagulls in Glasgow?  there's no sea here, gulls), I've ended up having a very pleasant morning reading through the newest copy of Sockupied.  I bagged a chance to review this recently (courtesy of Interweave) and have been looking forward to sitting down with a cuppa & reading it.  

I've been doing a lot of sock knitting recently, and it's always interesting to see what people are making, how they're doing it and what the effects of different techniques are.  Usually I browse the pretty pictures on Ravelry, but a magazine is a welcome change! 

Having never really browsed through Sockupied before, I sort of wonder why!  It has been around for a few years, I've obviously been missing a trick.  Overall, I'd say this is a good issue and definitely worth a look - and I *need* those cover socks.

What it is: a good, solid collection of socks. Provides variety and nice explanations.  Very reasonably priced at £1.27 ($2) per pattern - $11.99 total.  Well laid-out.
What it's not: an instructional handbook. not for beginners.  no standard sizing.  not sock theory.

Sockupied is an e-mag, which was initially created in 2010 for interweave.  I have the PDF version, but when bought through the interweave site/i-store or similar online mag platform, it also includes interactive videos etc. too. 

The Fall 2015 edition, as with previous issues, contains 6 sock patterns and a couple of nice articles/interviews.  The articles are interesting, and I particularly liked the first one from Debbie O'Neill with some sock tips. 

The sock collection in the book mainly consists of the top-down variety - though the construction varies considerably from your 'standard' top down sock, to ones which are knitted all the way down the back and picking up stitches to work your way from the toe up the front to cuff again.  There are a couple of stranded colourwork projects, which could be challenging for some knitters, but these are interspersed with relatively simple sock patterns, so there is something for most abilities.  Importantly (or maybe not, if you like your books on a strong theme) there's a good variety of styles, good for gift knitting or if you're not sure which kind you like to knit!

Sockupied is well laid out, with clear transitions from item to item, and clear subcategories.  The text is easy to read, and the photos are, for the most, attractive and informative.  

The Hominy sock photos are unfortunately not very clear - I can't make out the pattern - and come only in one size, so they're my least favourite of the lot.  I wouldn't ever chose to knit these, which is a shame, because maybe they're nice.

My personal favourite socks from the collection are the ones on the cover (though my loves of both orange and grey are probably clouding my judgement). They come in  many sizes, and both foot and calf circumferences are given, which is useful for knee-high socks!   

As much as I've noted that there's no standard sizing, this can be incredibly difficult with socks due to lace / colourwork repeats, especially when many different designers are involved!  What could perhaps be standardised is whether the 'to-fit' or 'actual' measurements are used. 

There is a nice section at the end explaining common sock starting/finishing techniques, which may serve as a useful aide-memoir to readers, and explains some of the trickier / more unusual techniques in the mag.

In particular, I do adore that the photoshoot was carried out in the LYS - for some reason I feel closer to the idea this way, lets face it, most of us can't afford to go on a nice beach holiday to photograph our socks...

Have you been knitting socks recently?  What resources have you been using?
I worked on a short-row toe video recently to accompany some of the sock patterns, did you find it useful?   


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Many Knitted Things

I haven't had much knitting to show you lately, because it's all supposed to be secret!  I've also got to get a move on, because it's all supposed to be out soon.  Since I can't show you exactly what I'm knitting, perhaps I can bleat on about the yarn a little :D  

Above, in glorious orange, is Malabrigo Rios, which is a superwash DK, in colourway 'sunset'.  It's very soft, very shiny, very smooshy.  There's ~190m per skein, and it is listed on Ravelry as a worsted weight yarn.  Currently I'm knitting it on 4mm needles and it's making quite a nice fabric in stockinette.  It's ~£11 per skein so doesn't break the bank, and is 100% superwash merino wool. 

Below is The Knitting Goddess Britsock - it's so soft!  The pattern for this yarn will be appearing around March, so quite a wee wait, but I can promise it'll be worth it (and well worth getting the yarn too...).  This is 400m per skein, made up of 40% BFL, 20% wensleydale, 20% nylon & 20% alpaca.  It's high-twist to make it ideal for socks, and comes in some lovely hand-dyed shades.  It's £15.50 from the Knitting Goddess website, which seems very reasonable for such a yummy hand-dyed skein. 

More even than knitting (shock horror), I've had quite a lot of fun putting the photos together.  There was a post recently on the A Playful Day blog about taking time to enjoy taking photos, which I can definitely agree with!

What have you been knitting lately?

For more sneaky peeks and snippets of yarn I'm currently using, I tend to pop projects onto Ravelry under something conveniently ambiguous such as 'secret socks' or 'coming soon cardigan'. 

At the moment I also have a couple of test knits on the go for an upcoming collection, there's a shawl, cardigan, and two hats.  Do get in touch at owlprintpanda@gmail.com if you'd be interested in any of these:

Hat: 1/2 x skein DK
Hat: 1 x skein Worsted
Shawl: 150g 4-ply
Cardigan: approx. 300-400g DK

Also this week, I've started a postgraduate diploma in Medical Education!  Quite looking forward to being a 'student' again, not least for the 15% discount at Office.  It's a distance learning course from Dundee (though maybe I'll need to find an excuse to make it less 'distance' and pop into Fluph more often).  If you've never been to Fluph, I'd definitely recommend a visit.

We're also ALMOST over the flat-upheaval, and the only person we're waiting on is the tiler!!  The kitchen is done, the new shower is done, I've painted all of the windows and doors and cleaned all of the flat (boy helped yesterday, very much appreciated help).  We'd be tempted to leave the plaster bare but unfortunately it only covers one wall and some choice hole repairs so we'll also have to get choosing some paint!

So what are you up to?  Exciting weekend plans?  Much knitting?  No knitting at all?


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Road Trip! Crieff Is Nice

I'd be surprised if I haven't already told you, but I passed my driving test a couple of weeks ago!  Yes, I'm a little late to the party, but I was just never interested in it before.  

Obviously, the next thing to do is go buy a car.  Quite a few people had quite a lot of advice on buying your 'first car'.  It seems sensible to choose an older car in case you bump it, a cheaper car because of the expensive insurance.  Of course I ignored this and popped out for a bright yellow Fiat 500 Lounge.  I wanted the shiny wheels, blue-tooth & sun roof, what can I say? 

Since the obvious thing to do with a new car is go on a road trip, this is what we did. With no fixed plans (except to end up in Crieff) we set off, vowing to follow those brown tourist board to things which appeared in our path.  

The first to appear was the Falkirk Wheel.  We found this sign by accident after scooting off the motorway mainly due to a huge queue we spotted building up!  Pulling into a little village from the motorway, some nice brown signs led us straight to the wheel.  

It's far bigger than I though it was, and I realised that, far from being moved sideways (which is what I always believed to be happening when looking at pictures) the boats are hoisted many metres into the air and plopped into a runway of canal which looks like it wouldn't be out of place in some sort of raised level airport.  

The weather was a little (read: very) rainy, shall we call it atmospheric?  But there's a great wee mini-museum and cafe near the wheel to watch it turn around.  

It wouldn't be a weekend away with the boy without some sort of outdoor activity, so we decided to do the treetop adventure course which is up on the hill beside Crieff Hydro.  This was quite a lot of fun & I'd highly recommend it.  The staff were lovely, and the sun even came out for us!

After all the outdoorsing, we arrived at our hotel, which was very pretty.  We stayed in Knock Castle in Crieff.  It's small(ish), warm and welcoming, and had a beautiful pool in a garden house in the grounds!  Sadly the only dinner time available when we arrived was 9pm, but we had a very lovely dinner in Crieff instead. 

On the second day, and our return to Glasgow, we happened across several more touristy places.  First was Drummond Castle Gardens in the morning.  The drive up to this castle is several miles of tree-lined forrestyness (I really did begin to wonder when it was going to end), opening out to these perfect gardens!  Apparently they're arranged in the shape of the Scottish Saltire, with the different colours representing the families coat of arms.  We were provided with a wee map which told us what all of the different kind of trees were, though I'm terrible at remembering these things. 

Last but not least, we spotted signs for Stirling Castle.  I've not visited here since I was quite wee, and the boy has never been!  So, in true road tripping couply style, we signed up for a Historic Scotland membership.  As you do.  Because we're cool & stuff.  I'd also like to point out that the boy is wearing the socks I knitted for him.  Sock knitting win.

Rather upsettingly, due to a combination of lots of 12 hour shifts at work with this lovely little trip to Crieff on my two days off, I've accomplished virtually no knitting over the past two weeks!

The flat is in quite a mess due to kitchen and bathroom works, so I'll tackle that today, but I'll try to have some knitting to show for next week :p

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Guest Post: Louise Tilbrook Designs

After the blog post on relaxation, knitting and 'What is Mindfullness?' last week, there was a bit of chat in internet-land about what each of us do to unwind.  

Louise (of the very lovely Louise Tilbrook  Designs) shares her view of calm & crafting, and I'm sure it resonates with many of us.  She is a sock knitting queen!  And creates some really very beautiful sock patterns which are available on ravelry

"Crafting for me has become such an integral part of my life that I've almost forgotten why I craft in the first place - it's like breathing. I craft therefore I am.  Knitting was and remains my first love. I knit for many reasons but if I had to pick one, I would say for relaxation. My husband might dispute this as he watches me try for the third time to execute a long tailed cast on over 300 stitches, but the rhythmic, repetitive act of knitting soothes and calms me more than I can say.

Obviously, not all knitting is created equal. There are times when my poor frazzled brain craves nothing more than a simple garter stitch blanket. At other times, the focus needed to work out a tricky heel turn or to follow a complex lace chart are just the kind of distraction needed from some external source of stress.

And, invariably, knitting is something I also do whilst doing other things; watching TV, reading, listening to podcasts, cooking, watching offspring at sporting events - the list is endless. The one thing I never do is knit and drive, but I do pack spare knitting just in case of long motorway delays.

Recently I have started spinning using both a wheel and a drop spindle and interestingly I had found that when I spin, it's all I do. I don't feel the need to pop the TV on or catch up with a podcast. It's just me and the fibre - soothing, meditative and yet stimulating at the same time.

I used to think that with knitting and more recently with my design work I had no time for another hobby. But increasingly I am aware that there is a place in a life for both - each just fills it's own niche perfectly."

You can find Louise on 
twitter: https://twitter.com/Madmumknits 
blog: http://www.louisetilbrookdesigns.blogspot.co.uk/
ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/louise-tilbrook

And some of my favourite socks from Louise, which were published in the Pom Pom Magazine!

(c) Juju Vail (for Pom Pom Magazine)

What do you think of craft & chilling out?  Or about the mindfullness movement?


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