Friday 22 May 2015

Owligan Finally Finished

The Owls jumper pattern was my first introduction to Kate Davies' designs. I bought the pattern and kept meaning to knit it but never got round to it. When I saw that Kate had updated the pattern to turn it into a cardigan Owligan knitted in Toft chunky wool I immediately bought a copy and moved the project right up to the top of my 'to knit' list. Thanks to chunky wool being incredibly quick to knit up I've now finished it and am very happy with my new knitwear.

My Owligan

The Toft chunky yarn is so soft, warm and squishy that it feels like I'm wearing a hug. Nevertheless at £15 per 100g ball it's not cheap and this certainly wasn't a budget knit. Whilst I did save a ball or two from the recommended amount, due to me knitting the cardigan shorter that the pattern to suit my petite frame, I still spent just over £100 on wool and buttons. I justify this by knowing that it's a treasured garment that I'll keep and wear for years to come.

The owls on the yoke were much easier to knit than they look. The small buttons, which look like owl eyes, really complete the look. I was fortunate to find the same button in two different sizes - one for the eyes and one for the main button opening. 

Kate Davies sells ribbon in her online shop and I used the scissors pattern to reinforce the button bands.

All in all I'm thrilled with my new cardigan. It's a bit too warm to wear at the moment so I'll safely store my Owligan away until the Autumnal chills hit us.

Now I have no excuse for finishing off another jumper of Kate's, Catkin, that I've had on the needles for a couple of years and have never got round to finishing. It's knitted in Titus 4ply yarn and, unlike Owligan, takes a long, long time to knit up - that's too with me knitting a shorter version than the pattern!

Kate Davies modelling Catkin
Wish me luck ...

Monday 18 May 2015

Free Yarn Stories Shade Card and Pattern Offer

I love a freebie and signed up straight away when I saw the British wool and pattern brand Yarn Stories' limited edition offer.

Fill in your details on its promotional website page to receive a free shade card of your choice, either the fine merino 4ply and DK or fine merino and baby alpaca 4ply and DK, plus a pattern of your choice. That's right, you get to choose the pattern you want from across their range and they usually cost £4.

Yarn Stories launched in 2014 and since then has nicely built up their pattern repertoire to support their yarns. Choose from accessories, women, children or home. After I'd submitted my details for the offer I received an email with a code to download a pattern of my choice for free. Yes, the company now has my details but I'm interested in finding out about their releases anyway and it's easy to unsubscribe from their email list in the future if I so wish.

So many patterns, so much to choose from. I already have quite a few garments in my 'to knit' list and it now supposedly being Spring I'm taking a break from hats, gloves and snoods. However the cable jumper 'Pevensie' really caught my eye with its beautiful colour and stitch detail.

On the other hand, however, Pevensie looks like a major and time-consuming project, whereas a smaller one would be quicker to knit and be a good introduction to the brand - the shade card may be free but the yarn is not. With that in mind I am tempted by the one-ball flying pig pattern for a fun change. Decisions, decisions ...

Peter and Percy

If you wish to take up the free shade card and pattern offer then do so quickly because I expect you won't be the only one!

Sunday 17 May 2015

British Yarn Shops I Yearn To Visit: Ginger Twist Studio

The UK is fortunate to have lots of lovely yarn shops run by passionate people with their own take on the knitwear industry. In this new series of posts I'm going to review the yarn shops that I yearn to visit, but so far have to make do with their websites due to them being far, far away from my home in the middle of England.

Jessica and Ginger Twist
I first came across Ginger Twist Studio when I saw it linked to from a blogger's post. Its indie-vintage theme caught my eye straight away along with its small but sweet and colourful website. The shop is in the beautiful, Scottish city of Edinburgh and it's run by passionate knitter Jessica James who hails from America.

Although Ginger Twist's website shop doesn't stock many products Jessica can track down anything you want that isn't listed. She was really helpful when I wanted to buy a yarn day knitterbocker glory ball she'd posted a picture of on her Facebook page, and also sorted me out with some DPNs I needed. You don't get that personalised service from the major internet-only knitting stores. She also stocks a range of yarn, hand-dyed in the local area, that are only available from her store.

Jessica kindly took some time out of her busy day to answer some questions about all things knitty for me:

Q. How did Ginger Twist Studio come about?
A. I've always wanted to have a yarn shop, and I even knew what colour I would paint it! After coming to Edinburgh on holiday, I decided I just HAD to relocate. So I packed up my bags in NYC, came to school in Edinburgh ... and now I have a yarn shop. It was really just a whirlwind! I'm very fortunate that I can make my living from something I am so passionate about.

Q. What classes do you offer?
A. GTS offers all sorts of classes. I have six teachers who all specialise in different things and rotate around. Let it be known that I am left-handed am therefore absolute rubbish at teaching right-handed folk how to do anything!

Of course there is always beginner knitting and crochet. But there are also loads of classes on more specific techniques; finishing, seeking, crochet colour work, Fair Isle, lace, socks ... you name it! Classes generally run on Sunday sand are held in the shop. It gets quite cosy, as my shop is very petite. I love workshop days!

Q. How do you decide which brands to stock?
A. It may sound strange/selfish ... but I pretty much stock what I like and would like to knit with. sometimes different yarn companies get in touch with me directly, or I meet them at a yarn shop ... or just randomly. I also run a Wool of the Month feature in the shop. This allows me to stock some things on a short-term basis, and try new stuff out.

Q. What's flying off the shelves at the moment?
A. The current Wool of the Month (May 2015) is the Kalinda linen. It is beautiful, shiny, and going super quick!! I think we are very hopeful for an actual summer here in Edinburgh.

Q. What are the knitting trends in Edinburgh?
A. Edinburgh is becoming a very knitty city! There are some wonderful wool shops in this city, and folks are really spoilt for choice. Then you have the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and now I'm in the midst of prepping for the 2nd annual Indie Burgh Yarn Crawl happening in June. Wool has a place in the public eye. Knitting and crochet are both being done out in public as well as in the comfort of people's homes. I'm very proud of my craft and bring my knitting with me everywhere!

Q. Why should knitters come to your shop? 
A. Because I love a good yarn chat ... and there is loads of lovely YARN and charm! And you may even get a cuppa out of the deal too.

Q. What's your personal favourite yarn?
A. It's Luscious Worsted in the 'Grey Gardens' colour way. I love the springy softness of this BFL/silk/cashmere yarn.

Grey Gardens
Many thanks to Jessica for her time.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Knit For Peace In Voluntary Arts Week

A twiddlemuff
As part of Voluntary Arts Week, running from May 15 to May 24, Knit for Peace, the charity that distributes knitted item to those in need and encourages women abroad and at home to come together and learn the skill, is asking volunteers to knit a twiddlemuff!

What's a twiddlemuff?

A twiddlemuff is a hand muff designed to provide a stimualation activity for people with dementia who have restless hands. The hand muff has bits and bobs attached inside and out to play with. The NHS asked Knit for Peace to provide these and enable patients to take them home with them.

How can I make one?

Simple - use all those yarn odds and ends at the bottom of your knitting bag. Chunky, bobbly, silky are all perfect to provide different touch experiences. The additions of buttons and/or ribbons can add that extra special touch. Be as creative as you like.

Where can I find the twiddlemuff knitting pattern?

Download the pattern from the Knit for Peace website here.

What do I do with my knitted twiddlemuffs?

Please post them to Knit for Peace and the charity will distribute them to the NHS hospitals requiring them. The address is:

Knit for Peace
Radius Works
Back Lane

Thursday 7 May 2015

Knitting Socks Through Election Night

My Dave sock so far
No-one can have escaped the fact that today voting takes place for the General Election. I had a lie in this morning in preparation for a long night ahead in front of the TV. This year the pundits say that the results are expected to be very close to call and I'm going to try and stay up in front of Jeremy Vine and his swingometer at least until midnight to catch the shocks and successes of the night.

It's a good opportunity to finish the Rachel Coopey Dave sock I've been knitting. In a previous post I reviewed her Socks Volume 2 book. Dave is the easiest pattern it and is suitable for beginners learning the basics of sock knitting construction. It's just stocking stitch - no cables, colour changes or anything else to worry about, leaving me free to concentrate on the structure.

That doesn't mean, however, that you can't go wrong. I had two frogging sessions: the first being when I went wrong on the heel flap and the second when I was incorrect about which stitches formed the instep. When I did manage to get it right I added markers to help me along.

The yarn I'm using was kindly donated by West Yorkshire Spinners for review. All views are my own. The 100g 4 ply ball is specifically spun for socks, is part of their country birds collection. It retails at £7.20 and unless you have ginormous feet one ball is enough for a pair of socks.

The shade is blue tit and the yarn contains colours inspired by the bird. It's a lovely soft yarn that doesn't have a tendency towards splitting. The change in colours appears random, although if you wanted to you could find the repeat section by pulling out the middle of the ball in order to start both socks at the same point in the colour scheme.

I'm knitting the Dave socks in the round and have found the country birds yarn very easy to knit with. It knits up rather like fair isle. I've already turned the heel and am now working on the foot. Tonight I'll post updates as I endeavour to finish the sock, and maybe start on the second, in front of the telly.

Here's what Dave is supposed to look like:

We'll see later on if mine turns out to be recognisable!


Exit polls put the Conservatives in front and the SNP with huge gains.  Lord Ashdown says that if the exit polls are right he will publicly eat his hat.

I've got a way to go to finish the sock and keep my toes warm:


Three seats declared and all have labour first, UKIP second and the Conservatives third. There are rumours that Ed Balls and Danny Alexander have lost their seats. David Dimbleby keeps asking politicians what they think of the exit poll, only to be told that they want to wait and see what the results are.

I've finished the toe and now need to graft the ends:


The Conservatives have won one seat. Theresa May refuses to speculate on what the rest of the results will be - the BBC is trying to fill time until more seats are announced.

Meanwhile I've finished grafting the toe. Rachel Coopey's Socks Volume 2 book has a very useful tutorial on kitchener stitch and I mastered it at the first time of trying.

As well as producing sock wool West Yorkshire Spinners also has a covetous book of patterns called Signature Socks. I'm interested in the future in knitting the woodland walk pattern. First however, I'm going to cast on the second sock for my country birds pair. It's going to be a long night!

Apologies for the dark photos due to camera problems.

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