Sock Knitters, do you leftover sock yarn? Then I have the project for you!
I’ll be the first to admit I am not much of a sock knitter. But I do love to wear hand knitted socks. I do make a lot of hats, cowls, shawls and even sweaters with sock yarns and I have various bags of leftover sock yarn. I tend to store them in colour groups which makes it easy when I’m looking for small amounts to add a bit of colour to a project.
The yarns in the photo below are leftovers from a shawl project, two cardigan projects and a hat.
Then I met Vera and she changed my life
Who is this mysterious Vera? How did she change my life?
Emma Sadler, a very good friend of mine, asked me to test knit her new pattern for the Vera Sweater. I was pleased to help and as most of my personal knitting is sweaters or cardigans for myself, it made a lot of sense. I needed a lighter sweater for layering and that would be suitable for Autumn as well as the cold, Winter weather.
Vera is a Sock Yarn Sweater and perfect for Sock Knitters
The main body of this classic, v-neck raglan sweater is knitted with a solid or semi solid sock yarn. But when you get to the sleeves you can go wild and knit a festival of colour using up your old sock yarns. It’s like a party going on all the way to the cuffs.
I usually have at least half a dozen sweaters or cardigans around the house waiting for sleeves. For those who don’t knit sweaters, Sleeve Island is the usual term for this, my sweater is stuck on sleeve island.
Sleeve Island is a big thing in this house and the oldest WIP (work in progress) I’ve found is a Chic Hoodie by Bonne Marie Burns which needs one sleeve. I can’t find the yarn, but I suppose I could rip out part of the sleeve that’s done and make it short sleeved? I digress, back to Vera.
BUT with Vera, I was so excited to get to the next colour of yarn scraps, the sleeves were knitted in a weekend. If you want to sign up for Emma’s newsletter and be notified when the pattern is released, sign up here. She usually does a discount code on launch, so don’t miss it.
Stanhope Sweater, another sock yarn stash buster
Earlier in the year, Emma released her Stanhope Sweater. Fans of Vera on ITV in the UK will recognise the names of the sweaters are inspired by the detective Vera Sanhope. A no-nonsense woman who tells it how it is.
I am trying to convince Emma that her original sample in a light curry colour is too big for her. She has lost weight and is looking fabulous. Really I’m doing her a favour by taking it off her hands, but so far it hasn’t arrived in the post.
Stanhope is another classic V neck, no fancy shaping, just clean lines and the sock yarn does ALL the work by showing off it’s colours, patterns and stealing the show.
Will you be knitting Stanhope or Vera for yourself this Autumn?
Stay safe, be well and be kind. See you again soon for more crafting, chat and yarny goodness.
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Today’s post is a round up of Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting, though to be fair, some of this also applies to crochet so crochet fans, please read on.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Try to keep your tension or gauge even
What does that mean? Well, for a start, try and keep the stitches the same size in each row or round. Then try and make sure that your wrong side rows (if you are working flat) have stitches the same size as the right size rows.
If you notice loose or sloppy stitches in your rows (crochet or knit) you need to work on improving your tension. I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed I knit tighter than when I’m relaxed. Same with crochet. I have to make an effort to keep my stitches the same size, but it’s worth it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Always finish the row or round
I’m knitting a sweater at the moment, top-down on circular needles in the round. I finish the round, then slip the marker and knit a couple of extra stitches before I put the work down. When I come back to it, I tink the couple of stitches I worked back to the marker and then knit a full round. This helps keep my tension even and stop the needles pulling on the fabric in the middle of the garment.
When working flat, back and forth, I ALWAYS finish a row before putting the work down. Otherwise you get pulled stitches in the middle of the row that may not even out with blocking later. Most of our kids know not to interrupt us mid row, so let’s use it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Learn how to fix your mistakes
There are so many tutorials on YouTube, Craftsy and other sources to help you learn how to fix a problem with your knitting or crochet. Do a search and watch a few until you find the video that works for you.
We learn through our mistakes and you’ll be so much better a knitter or crocheter for doing it.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Check Your Work
Check your stitch count, particularly in lace or cable patterns, to make sure you haven’t dropped a stitch, missed a yarn over increase or worked a decrease in the wrong place.
If it’s crochet, count your chains, stitch clusters/shells to make sure you haven’t missed any. If you miss a chain or a cluster it can wreck your next row, so check regularly and rip out if needed to work it again.
Learn to read your knitting, it makes it easier to see a mistake in the work as you look at it. And, hopefully, save a lot of tinking back.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – use a row counter
When you are first starting to knit, it’s hard to keep count or track of your knitting. Some people mark off every row they knit on their pattern, others are able to ‘read’ their knitting and count up every now and then. For me, my favourite gadget is a swimming length/lap counter. It’s a digital counter with buttons to count each lap/length and a digital display. it fastens to my finger just like a tiny watch, the battery last for ages and it works well.
You can get row counters to go onto your needles and change that each row. It’s handy when you are working increases or decreases to shape a sleeve, waist shaping etc. My friend adds a locking stitch marker to the end stitch of the increase/decrease row when she is knitting sleeves to make sure they are worked every x rows and also so she can count up and make she she’s worked them all. It also makes life easier when working the second sleeve, to ensure the shaping matches.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – a crochet hook is a fantastic help when knitting
It’s a great tool for picking up dropped stitches and working back up to the top of your knitting. I use a crochet hook sometimes for picking up stitches on a neckline as it can be easier to pull the yarn through to make each new stitch. A fine crochet hook can be really useful for adding beads to your knitting. Beads are sneaky little horrors but a crochet hook can help you wrangle them.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – use the right yarn for the stitch pattern
Fancy yarns, textured yarns and busy patterned yarns are great for stocking stitch (stockinette) as the yarn does the hard work. A plain yarn with a good twist will give better stitch definition for cables, lace and textured stitch patterns.
When you’re starting out, buy cheap, plain yarn. Why? Because it’s easier to see your knitting if you’re not distracted by stripes, speckles, random colours, fancy textures that are hard to knit. As you learn and build your skills, you can move up to more luxurious or expensive yarns if you want. If you like knitting with cheaper yarns and that suits your budget, that’s fine too.
The right yarn is the right yarn for your pocket, your colour preference, works with the pattern you are knitting and makes you happy. If you’re knitting for a busy Mum, she’ll want something machine wash because it’s easier to care for, so an acrylic or blend might be best. If your budget runs to a superwash wool, that’s great, but it’s not essential. It needs to be easy for her to look after.
I can’t think of a single person who has commented ‘That’s a lovely sweater and it’d be so much nicer in a fancy yarn.’ No one says that, they all say ‘That’s a beautiful sweater.’ End of story, they don’t know what yarn it is, how much it cost or anything else, they just like what I’ve made, so it’s the RIGHT yarn.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – It’s okay to rip it and start again
It’s not a failure to rip something out. Think of it as perfecting and improving your finished project. It’s also a learning experience that will help you in future projects. It takes time to learn to knit and you need to practice. I’ve been knitting since I was 4 years old, I’m now 52 and I am still learning new things. I love that there is so much to learn that keeps me interested.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Always block your knitting
I block all my projects, that might be steam blocking with my iron held above the piece, spray blocking or web blocking. Sometimes I’ll machine wash the item, then pull it to shape/size and dry it flat. For smaller items I will spray with water, pull to size and to even out the stitches and leave it to dry. The main reasons are to a) make the knitting share the stitches evenly and make the work look neat and b) to make the finished item the correct size (or as close to it as we can get) so it fits.
Top 10 Tips to improve your knitting – Use the right needles for your yarn
That might be circular needles or dpns for a piece knitted in the round. Though I used circular needles a lot for flat knitting things like cardigans because they allow the weight of the piece to be in my lap and not dragging on my straight needles. When starting out, I suggest bamboo straight needles as they grip the yarn and make it less likely for your stitches to fall off as you knit. Your local yarn store (LYS) will be able to show you different types of needles and may let you try some in the store and see what you think before buying them. Interchangeable needles have different size tips,
I hope you’ve found this article helpful but if you have other questions, do get in touch and we’ll try to answer them.
If you have knitting FAQs or frequently asked questions to add to this post, let us know and we’ll try to answer it here. I’ll be updating this post every week with several new questions and answers, so there will be more info each time you visit.
How do I learn to knit?
Depending on where you live and your proximity to a yarn/wool shop, you may be able to attend classes to learn to knit. If your local store doesn’t offer in person classes, they may offer online classes for beginners. For those who don’t have a local yarn store (LYS) there are thousands of videos on YouTube to teach you how to cast on, how to use the knit stitch, how to purl and build up your skills. Another good resources is myblueprint.com aka Craftsy which has classes you can buy and watch online, download to an iPad or phone via their app. The courses start with Knitting 101 with all the basics up to designer level.
The two terms mean the same thing, it’s a small piece of knitting worked in the suggested pattern to ensure you have the right number or rows and stitches per 4 inch or 10cm square. If you have more stitches per 4 inch, try a larger needle, if you have less stitches per 4 inch try a smaller needle. I usually make a square that’s approximately 6 inch or 15cm square, a larger piece gives me a more accurate result when I am counting my stitches per 4 inch/10cm square.
If you don’t knit a swatch then your finished object (FO) could end up being a lot smaller or larger than you wanted or anticipated. With a hat, that’s maybe not such a problem as it’ll fit someone, but a sweater could be a lot larger or smaller than you need. It could be too long or too short and end up wasting your time and money.
If the front of your sweater has 100 stitches, at a gauge/tension of 20 sts = 4 inch it will measure 20 inches in width making a 40 inch sweater. But, at a gauge/tension of 18 sts = 4 inch it will measure 22 inches in width, making a 44 inch size sweater. If your sweater works out at 4 sts per inch, the end result would be 50 inch chest. That’s quite a difference in terms of fit and possibly yarn usage.
Always block your gauge/tension swatch after you’ve finished knitting and cast off the piece. You need to block it the same way you intend to block the finished item, whether that’s wet blocked, steam blocked or spray blocked and pinned to shape. Your square in lace will typically be larger than a stocking stitch square because of the holes/eyelets.
Do I have to use the yarn recommended in the knitting pattern?
No, you don’t have to use the exact yarn recommended in the pattern, you can use any yarn that is the right thickness and gives you the correct number of stitches and rows per 4inch/10cm square for the pattern. However, it’s worth understanding the characteristics of the recommended yarn. For example, a garment knitted with linen will typically grow in length when blocked and when worn so is knitted shorter than the same garment knitted in acrylic which doesn’t grow in the same way.
You can find suggested yarns at https://yarnsub.com or chat to the staff at your local yarn store, who will find a yarn to suit your pattern, your pocket and the right fibre for you. If you’re allergic to wool, they could recommend an acrylic, cotton or other plant based yarn.
If you are knitting from your stash, you could combine yarns, so two strands of yarn to make the equivalent of a heavier yarn. Always swatch to make sure it’s not too stiff or too floppy a fabric when knitted.
Can I photocopy a pattern for my friend?
No, that would be copyright theft. Your friend needs to buy their own copy of the pattern for their use. The same applies to digital pdf patterns, you not allowed to share patterns with others, they need to buy their own. A lot of work goes into designing a pattern, both in terms of knitting a series of prototypes, testing, technical editing, graphic design, tutorials and special instructions, the cost of the yarn used etc.
What is ply? I’ve seen it next to yarn weight, what does it mean?
Yarn manufacturers used to make yarn using multiple plies or strands of yarn twisted to make a thicker yarn. So 4ply in the UK is fingering weight, 8ply is DK or double knit weight yarn and so on. Although there are yarns called roving, a loose single strand that can be any thickness. On that basis, it’s best to go with the yarn thickness or weight as a guide. Standard Yarn Weight System
My yarn has a dyelot on the label, does it matter?
Yes, and No. If your yarn is dyed in a particular way and contains natural fibres, then dye lots matter, you don’t want to run out and find that your second sleeve is a different shade of that colour than the rest of the sweater.
If it’s a big box acrylic yarn, then it probably doesn’t matter. I used a lot of Stylecraft yarns and their dye lots are very consistent and I’ve never had an issue.
This piece is knit almost seamlessly from the top down though it does have some cute pockets. You could opt to remove the pockets for an entirely seamless sweater. But if you do choose to add the pockets, you could have a lot of fun with a contrast lining that peeks out from behind the lace detail in front.
Cardiflower is a pretty and quick knit option, with cropped sleeves and a slightly cropped body, perfect for layering. It has gentle A line shaping for a little extra movement and those of us with wider hips than our bust line. Size 33″ to 67″ chest/bust.
Embrace minimalism with Siena, a lightweight cardigan with dolman sleeves. Airy construction pairs with an iconic silhouette for a quick-to-knit sweater you’ll want to wear every day. The cardigan uses DK weight yarn and my only negative is that sizing stops at 48″ chest/bust, so larger ladies will miss out or have to adapt the pattern to fit them.
This one is fingering/4ply weight, but has the little details that are often missed in a loose or wrap cardigan, such as actual waist shaping, a good sleeve shape that will suit ample arms and slim arms. I really like this one, the thought of using 2mm needles has me fainting, but I’d probably use a 3.5mm needle and work a different size depending on my gauge/tension. It’s sized at the hip measurement, not the bust/chest and the range is from 30″ to 54″.
The collection wouldn’t be complete without a design from Alicia Plummer, it was hard to choose as I am knitting a Campside Cardi at the moment, but I went for Nezinscott, which looks like a fun knit. Worked top down with pretty slipped stitch colourwork details and sized from 34″ to 51″ bust/chest. I’m sure Alicia will add sizes to this as she works through her range to make them more size-inclusive, so keep an eye out.
This one is worsted weight, in a cotton/linen/flax blend, very pretty lace details and light for Summer/Autumn. Sized from 16″ to 28″ back width (measured at the bustline). It’s worked bottom up, the fronts then form the collar joining at the back neck and are also the top of the back part of the cardigan. It’s clever and I’d love to knit this.
I do love a fingering/4ply weight cardigan knitting with larger needles, it uses very little yarn in terms of weight but gives a fabulous drape to the fabric. It’s worked top down without buttons so no faffing about afterwards as it’s designed to be worn open. Sized from 27.5″ to 48.5″ bust/chest. Some have added decorative buttons which is a nice touch, but they are just for show.
I knitted this in some purple Araucania Nature Wool and I absolutely love it. I did, however, make long sleeves for mine. Sized in 31″ to 51″ bust/chest but very easy to adapt as it’s a basic raglan shape.
I like the waterfall front on this one, but ladies with larger busts, do try on something similar before making to ensure the waterfall doesn’t accentuate your bust if you’re someone who wants to minimize it. It’s a very easy knit, great pattern and so pretty. Sized from 31 to 51″ bust/chest but it’s open front and if the back fits you, you’re golden.
This one is fingering weight/4ply and sized from 34″ to 46″ bust/chest. Very pretty front details which gives some flexibility and great to cover a larger bust, choose a size to fit your back, as the gathers at the front shoulders are very flattering.
Bulky yarn, squishy cables and oversized. I’ve made this and then lost weight so mine is enormouse, but I will reknit in a smaller size because I loved it so much. Sized 39″ to 54″ approx and worn oversized, I’d make either the smallest or second size next time as I like a slimmer fit. The cables are amazing and the pattern very well written.
Another beauty from Nidhi, I love this cardigan, pretty details and such a classic. It’s knitted with sport weight yarn with 0-2″ of ease. Sized from 28-54″ bust. There are some short rows and cables but most of the body is an easy relaxing knit.
I hope you like this latest round up of some of my many, many favourites and find something that you love as much as I do. I’ll be doing a round of up of some of my crochet favourites tomorrow, so do have a look.
We were delighted to welcome Alicia Plummer @aliciaplums to our Facebook Live session on 19th July 2020 to chat about her Campside KAL (knit along).
What is the Campside KAL all about?
Alicia designed her Campside Shawl the year her Dad passed away, it was very much linked to her grief and the eyelet represents tears of grief and raindrops in a storm. She’s added a number of designs to the Campside collection and shows us the newest shawl design in the video linked below.
This summer’s annual Campside KAL 2020 Knitalong is almost here! It kicks off August 1st, at 8 pm EST and wraps up (pun intended) September 19th at 8 pm EST.”
To help get you ready, all eligible patterns are 25% off until August 1st with the code campside2020.
Watch the interview about the Campside KAL here and after we’ve chatted to Alicia Plummer we look at some of her designs and talk yarn choices.
For Alicia, it was clear to us, that yarn and knitting is an emotional connection to an event or how life is going at the time. Campside is an interesting example of how we feel informs our yarn choice, the colours we knit with and the end design.
I’m planning to knit a Campside Cardi, however, I am also tempted by the raglan version of the Campside Pullover, I don’t really do drop sleeves as they don’t work well with my body shape. I thought I had chosen my yarn until an accidental trip to the LYS in our town’s Market Hall led to be seeing Stylecraft’s new yarn Highland Heathers. It took me a while to pick my colour but I chose Gorse, a rich heathery green/yellow mix and I LOVE IT.
It’s a DK weight yarn and to get gauge/tension I’d need to use a 5.5mm needle for the cardigan. I have, after swatching with 5mm and 5.5mm decided to go with a larger size but using the smaller needles. I much prefer the resulting fabric and I think it’ll wear better over the longer term.
I’m planning a few mods which I’ll need to work out carefully, for example, I would like to increase a few times on each front for boob coverage and also make a deeper collar so that covers the lower body a little rather than a large gap in the middle that screams BELLY at everyone I walk past.
I need to work to the stitch counts for a larger size and make sure the charts will still line up and the pattern for the lower body work the way I want it too. It’s an easy enough set of calculations to do and I’m sure it’ll be fabulous.
I phoned Pat at our LYS to ask her to put the rest of the yarn I need to one side and I’ll collect that on Friday next week, unless I need it before, lol. In which case I’ll need to drive into town and sort that out.
Summer top patterns I love for 2020, this includes but summer top knitting and crochet patterns. Feel free to click the links below and skip to the craft that interests you, or if you’re like me and bicraftual, enjoy them all.
Summer Top Knitting Patterns I love for 2020
First up is Seven Senses by Anne B Hanssen a very pretty lace yoke top with short sleeves (you could add length if you wanted) and worked from the top down in the round. The hem and sleeves are finished with an icord bind off, but you could easily go for garter or ribbing if you preferred. It’s a design that’s easy to adapt and being top down you can try on as you go.
Last week I finished knitting my 3rd Edie by Isabell Kraemer, it’s my go-to Summer Top pattern and very easy to adapt to fit your body shape. My latest Edie is knitted with some Bamboo Cotton 4ply yarn in a coral colourway. I am super pleased with it. I’ll post a photo when I can get my son to take one of me wearing it, but for now, enjoy Isabell wearing hers. It’s top down in the round and features a simple slip stitch pattern which also helps with any spiral effect caused by working in the round. My previous two Edie’s were knitted with Drops Belle in the darker purple and Wendy Supreme Cotton/Silk in a colour called linen which is like warm wheat. I wear them both a lot in Summer and they both wash beautifully.
A new release from last week caught my eye, another Jutta Hinterm Stein triumph called Hot in the City, it’s knitting top down in 4ply/fingering weight yarn, linen or similar with good drape would work well. It has a V neck and a V pattern on the upper back and lower body. I’ve knitted some of her other designs and the patterns are very well written.
Another favourite is the Lesley Tee by Noma Ndlovu, with it’s fabulous swing shape and fabulous twisted stitch panels to create beautiful vertical lines on the lower body. It’s stunning. Worked from the top down, raglan sleeves and easy to fit to your body shape.
I love Jessie Maed’s summer tops but this one is my favourite. The Ripple Bralette has a simple ribbed pattern to add vertical lines and lots of stretch to skim your curves.
I love this top, it’s called Summer Sorrel and is another size inclusive pattern from Wool & Pine. This project by DrSabrina uses the most beautiful gradient set and the colours look amazing on her. It’s a style that suits many body shapes and great for busting some stash.
I’ve knitted Summerline by Hintern Stein using the teal colour of Drops Belle, it’s a fabulous design with super clever construction and knitted top down with options for shaping the body to suit you and also bust shaping. I wear mine a lot and everyone who sees it loves it.
The Radiance Tank pattern by Rebecca McKenzie is a very pretty summer top to knit, it’s worked bottom up with a charted design on the hem, with it’s flattering scoop neck you could knit this in one of your Wow colours or a great neutral to go with everything.
One of my good friends from the Gift Along is Nidhi Kansal, she’s a regular part of Team Bundle and has some fabulous designs. It’s hard to choose but the Summer of ’16 top is a winner with it’s dipped him, texture pattern down the front and beautiful edgings will be a wow knit to wear in any summer. Check out her designs, in particular the Smriti shawl which is utterly fabulous.
I knitted a Yume top for myself and finished it earlier this year. I have some terracotta coloured cotton set aside to knit another for Summer, it’s another Isabell Kraemer design and really easy to adapt to fit.
This spectacular sideways knit summer top from Jimenez Joseph will turns heads for all the right reasons. It’s called Pixham and features a beautiful pattern running over the shoulders and across the upper body on both back and front, it’s gorgeous.
Amira by Ranee Mueller is a pretty lace top, no body shaping, but with negative or no ease will skim those curves beautifully. The boatneck is flattering, it’s worked flat and seamed and is an easy to remember lace pattern, you’ll be wearing it in no time at all.
i think I told you in my last post about knitting Tidewater by Laura Aylor, another top down knit, nice details and other than a few ends to weave in, no finishing to do once the knitting is done. It’s a great way to use up sock yarns, cotton, bamboo or silk for summer wear. It would be a pretty three season piece worn over a long sleeve tee.
I’ll do another round up next month as there will no doubt be lots more to choose from but my last knit pattern for today is another Hinterm Stein, this time Simply Perfect Summer Top. I knitted mine in Debble Bliss Prima, a wool/silk blend and I love it. It’s very wearable and washes well. Aline and straight body options to suit most figures and in a good range of sizes.
I love Alicia Plummer’s designs and her latest summery top is Fable, it’d be lovely in a wool for cooler days or a soft cotton for summer.
Summer Top Crochet Patterns I love for 2020
First up is Manna by Ruth Brasch, click on the photo for the link to the pattern page on Ravelry. It’s crocheted with a 5.5mm hook and worsted weight yarn. I love this colour, so pretty and perfect for a summer day. It’s sized for 28″ through to 64″ chest/bust in a cropped or longer length.
This pretty mesh top will be quick to crochet, worked flat and seamed with worsted weight yarn it’ll be a fast make. It’s called Summertime Tee by Toni Lipsey.
Open Waves Top by Rose Obom is another beautiful top, I like the v neck and lacy pattern, using sport weight yarn this will be light and airy for hot days. It is sized up to 4XL and will suit a range of body shapes. I love this neutral used in the sample, it’ll go with so many items in my wardrobe.
The Dragonfly Tee by Elisabeth Desamour is a fun cami style top with a sporty look. The cute dragonfly motifs on the body are a fun way to use a pop of colour or you could go with a neutral and just one colour for a classic look.
I hope you enjoyed this little round up of my current favourites for this summer. What are yours? Do say hi on Facebook and let me know on our Woolly Madly Deeply page.