Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Einstein's Finest

Actually, there are many things that can be counted as 'Einstein's Finest', but because my mind is SO not of a scientific bent there are many things that make my brain go kablooey. Still, the Theory of Relativity is something that we're taught about from an early(ish) age, even if it's just so explain why we don't fall of the earth, considering that it's spinning around at such a velocity!
theory of relativity by yours truly size large
sirdar heart and sole in 'skippy'
This is a cuff-down, gusset-heeled sock, designed with self-striping yarn in mind.*

The blurb:
When Albert Einstein wrote his theory of relativity in 1915, he found a new way to describe gravity. It was not a force, as Sir Isaac Newton had conjectured, but instead a consequence of the distortion of space and time, conceived together in his theory as 'space-time'. Any object distorts the fabric of space-time, and the bigger it is, the greater the effect. 
Such, it seems, is what happens when adding and subtracting stitches to a line of knitting, distorting the fabric and creating an effect of leaning towards decreases, and away from increases, and all sorts of timey-wimey, spacey-wacey bends and whirls... In my mind, at least!!
theory of relativity by yours truly size medium
king cole zig zag 50/50 in 'jubilee'
I found a picture of something resembling this stitch pattern on Pinterest the other month. I say resembling, because the photo must have been lifted from a stitch dictionary without any instructions or charts to help a poor knitter out. I was, however, taken enough with the potential that I reverse-engineered it to create something that would cry out, cry out I tell you, to be used with self-striping yarn.

As you do.
theory of relativity by yours truly size small
(this used an afterthought heel, but I found it too restrictive)
trekking xxl in '538 browns'
What I didn't like was what appeared to be the use of diagonal lines of yarn-overs to make the increases. Quelle surprise, I don't hear you say. Or maybe I do, but you're probably saying it in a very sarcastic manner...

I have no idea what I do wrong in attempting the humble yo. Well, the humble yo in sequences of diagonal increases throughout a piece of fabric. No matter how many tutorials I watch on YouTube, nor how much written instruction I read (which, let's face it, isn't that much for such a seemingly simple stitch) I always, always, ALWAYS end up with a series of holes that look like my little sister c.1977 has been playing with the scissors again.

So I changed the type of increase from what was probably a yarn-over to a twisted lift increase. Which sounds a tad tricky, but really it's rather simple!

M1 (make 1) = using the right-hand needle and working from back to front (which means you automatically place the stitch with the correct leg at the front) you pick up the running thread between the stitch you just worked and the next stitch on the left-hand needle, and place it on the left-hand needle as a new stitch and knit it through the back loop as a twisted stitch. The twist will ensure that you don't have a hole where you've added the new stitch. (Although, that could be quite interesting - all the M1s worked as ordinary lifted knit stitches instead of twisted. You'd end up with small eyelets, which could be very pretty. That being said, if you're working the M1s as an ordinary eyelet (a plain, untwisted M1), then you might want to go down a needle size to counter the extra stretchiness of the added yos!)

See? Nothing to be scared of!

So, we start off with our favourite cuff to hate, the twisted rib: one stitch knit through the back loop, one plain purl, repeated until Hades starts to get a little chilly. Yes, yes, I know, I chose it, I shouldn't be so disparaging, but hoo-boy, for such a beautiful stitch, it's a royal pain-in-the-behoochie to work. But we loves it, we do, so one shall endeavour to suck it up, as our American cousins are wont to say!
And so we start, and yes, it's an easy one! Huzzah!

This pattern works very well with double-pointed needles or circulars, but I recommend using a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round, even if you're using DPNs, because the way the pattern swoops and swirls, it's quite easy to lose the beginning point! Yes, this particular PSA comes from experience!

The heel is the old favourite, an eye-of-partridge heel flap with a short-row heel turn. I was originally thinking of using my new favourite, the Fish Lips Kiss heel, here, (I actually used an afterthought heel for the small pair) but I found after the first pair of socks, that it wasn't quite roomy enough around the ankle/heel/foot hinge for the nature of the fabric; with all the contrary motion of increase versus decrease there's a little less give than it would have if it was a plain stockinette sock. The heel-flap, which can sometimes look a little less impressive than it's short-row cousins, does have one major card up its sleeve (um, leg...) in that you can add extra repeats of the 4-row heel-flap pattern to accommodate a high instep, or sturdy ankles!

Moving on to the foot, I recommend that once you're finished with the gusset decreases on the sole to continue a couple more decreases on the sole, just bringing in the width of the foot a little for a better fit, remembering, of course, to factor this into the toe decreases. (The instructions are written out on the pattern, for ease of counting - I'm all for easing the horrors of counting!)

And there you have it! And although they were a bit of work to get the pattern just right, the pattern is now just right! Huzzah!! AND available for sizes S, M, L, & XL!! And how can you get your hands (um, feet??) on this little beauty?  Click HERE and you'll be whisked away to the pattern page on Ravelry (of which you don't need to be a member to have a jolly good gander over the thousands of patterns available!!) and once there you'll find all the information you need to download this crazy wonderfulness!!  Alternatively, you can click the button below which will take you straight to the PayPal page where you'll be asked for the paltry amount of €3!

Go on! You know you want to!!

* The yarn I used is more like light fingering yarn, slightly thinner than the thicker US fingering yarn I see. Please bear that in mind when choosing your yarn!

Many, many thanks go to my Intrepid Testers™ dizzybea, Ibecutest, jkob, KnittingNightElf, mandi216, mpindstrup, Mysewing2, Quilter05, sgeorge24, Sharpei4Kris, taraknitterb, and TurtlesOnDown.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Her Grace, Mary, Queen of Scots

...bids you come and have a gander at these...

mary, queen of socks, by yours truly
The blurb:
Mary, Queen of Socks is a companion pattern to Gloriana (my socks inspired by Elizabeth I) and is another design in the series inspired by costume and clothing through the ages. The main beaded motif is an adaptation of embroidered embellishments seen on the gown of a 12- or 13-year-old Mary in a sketch by Clouet c.1555, and the cabled eyelet pattern running parallel to the main motif is a nod towards the famous six ropes of black pearls given to Mary for the occasion of her first marriage (pearls that were coveted, then owned by Elizabeth I). 
This is a toe-up, beaded, lace, and cable sock, with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel, and comes in four sizes from small to XL.
black version: the knitting goddess UK 4-ply sock 75/25 in 'onyx'
and holiday yarns flocksock sock in 'bloody mary mix'
white version: ice yarns freddo aplpaca lux in 'silver white'
The main pattern is worked in one colour, and for this version I chose a cream and silver yarn as a nod towards the opulent gown in the Clouet portrait, but my second version used an onyx yarn to represent the colour Mary was known to wear continuously after the death of the first husband. The chains or red that I chose at the side are a not to the (possibly apocryphal) tale that before her beheading, Mary disrobed her customary black to reveal a crimson under-gown - the colour of Catholic martyrdom.

The centrepiece of the sock design is adapted from the gold embroidery found on the 12- or 13-year-old Mary's dress in a portrait by Couet c.1555,
and is flanked by two rows of stylised pearls representing the famous six strings of black pearls given to Mary on her wedding day to Francois, dauphin of France, by Catherine de Medici. These are described as "six cordons of large pearls, strung as paternosters [...] These are for the most part like black muscades (grapes)." You can see one of these strings in a portrait after Clouet (below), and if you want to see all six worn together, check out Elizabeth I in the Armada portrait!
The cables represent something a little more sinister - bindings for captivity, and in my onyx version, showing the colour of the under-dress Mary is reported to have worn under the black satin dress she wore for her execution - crimson red, the colour of blood and Catholic martyrdom.
The sock starts at the toe (with a nice easy cast-on like the Turkish cast-on that I used) where the square motif and pearls are introduced early on:
Knowing my horrifying way with yarn-overs at the best of time, you will no doubt be very impressed with this little effort! I always try to end up working towards my own strengths, or trying to cover up my weaknesses in my own patterns, and I think not shying away from my ancient yo adversary in this instance has... helped. Well, you can see the pattern I was aiming for, at least. I call this a WIN in my book. Or at least a draw!

You have the option to add a bead at the mid-point of the cross in the square part of the main motif, but if you prefer to keep the eyelet pattern complete throughout, or only add beads to the leg of the sock, there's an option for that in the pattern.
I chose the wonderful Fish Lips Kiss heel again, as it just seems to work. Like I said in my Shirley Temple Socks post, I've never made such a well-fitting sock! You do have to pay $1 for the heel pattern, but I will continue to laud it to the heavens and say that I think it'll be the best sock-related $1 you'll ever spend!
The leg section gives a bit of lee-way regarding where you start the pattern at the back. The directions for the heel (which I can't really divulge here, per the instructions of the heel pattern's designer) is to continue after the construction with another inch or stockinette stitch before carrying on with the pattern up the back of the leg.

Well. You can see above that in the white version (above) I started the 'pearl' pattern at the first crossover immediately after the heel (on the same row as the front) but didn't start the main motif pattern until I hit the first round of the internal beaded square. In fact, I did the start of this motif in exactly the same way I started the toe, just with the correct amount of stitches either side! But how and where you start is completely up to you, as long as you're working the same round as the front!
The onyx version continued the pearl motif at the same point as the white version (at the first crossover of the 'pearl' pattern) but waited an inch to start the main motif, which I began at round 1 when I reached it at the front.

I chose to start the colour-work section at the first bind stitch after the heel, and using 2 balls of the contrasting colour, one for each side, I slowly worked the chain cable. The key is to keep the yarn taut, but not too taut. I have one tester who decided to work the entire bind section from the toe to the cuff in a contrasting colour, with a couple of changes to stitch placement on the sole (details on the link to the project HERE), and the effect is also pretty special.

And that's pretty much it. The cuff is more of a recipe than an actual set of instructions; basically you continue the knit stitches as twisted knit stitches, the purls and yo's as purls, and the bind cable as the rest of the sock, but without the cables. Simple!
For the white version I stopped after row 10 and continued:
p1, (ktbl, p2) x2, B3 (or k3 depending on which round you're on), p2, B3/k3, p2, ktbl, p2, ktbl, p1, ktbl x2, (p1, ktbl) x3, p1, ktbl x2.
and for the onyx version I stopped on round 24 and continued:
p1, (ktbl, p2) x2, (k3/B3, p2) x2, ktbl, p2, ktbl, (p1, ktbl) x4.
for about an inch and half or so, binding off with a nice stretchy stitch - I used Jeny's Suprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, but feel free to use your favourite! Of course, you are free to stop the leg for the cuff any place you want, but if you want to keep the wider bind stitches apart, then I'd suggest stopping either between rounds 8 to 12, or rounds 20 to 24. You'll see what I mean if you buy the pattern!
And talking of buying... (see how nicely I slipped that in there??) you can, you can!! and all you need to do is click THIS LINK which will take you to the pattern page on Ravelry (of which you don't need to be a member if you want to buy any patterns there) or you can click the link below which will take you straight to the PayPal page, where you will be asked to part with a paltry €3 (or £2.62. or $3.34 at current exchange rates, plus VAT should you live in the EU) to have the royal pattern in your grasp! AND, because I'm such a nice person, for the first long weekend of the pattern being live, you can have a euro off at check-out if you use the code 'QUEENIE'!

Go on, you know you want to!

With thanks to my Intrepid Ravelry Testers™ ChocolateKate, confiance, crochestist, KnittingNightElf, knotginaj, Mimmyknits, MooseJean, Naehall, Purple TX, renater59, sharpei4kris, SitNKnit, Skalman277, and TigerSharkknits.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

On The Good Ship Woolly Sock

My goodness, but it's been a while! But in my defence I hadn't been near any sticks and string for a while, too... Yup, as defences go, that's quite the lamest you'll hear for a while, but maybe this will appease the yarn gods for a wee bit...

My first published pattern in a couple of years, may I present:

Shirley Temple Socks

shirley temple socks by yours truly in angels and elephants
hand-dyed knitting wool - sock/4-ply in 'pentillie'
The blurb:
A Shirley Temple cocktail is in fact a mocktail of ginger ale, a splash of grenadine, and topped off with a maraschino cherry garnish, said to have been invented to serve to the child actress at Hollywood events... 
The Shirley Temple sock pattern itself is another in my theme of alcoholic drinks, but in a happy twist of fate, it also manages to blend neatly into my other theme of costumes through the ages... Bubbles from the ginger ale, plus a nod to the curls for which Shirley Temple was known!
Yes! Socks! In three different sizes, so less!!

shirley temple socks by yours truly in namolio pure wool in 'oranges'
I'll be honest - these cuties began their journey back in 2013 when I first put scribbled curls to paper, but were put on the back burner when I discovered I didn't hate shawls nearly as much as I used to. :: a gazillion shawls later :: Not nearly as much! 

Looking back, I originally envisioned these as cabled socks with no eyelets in sight (sorrynotsorry) but my naive cable brain couldn't quite get a good swirl going that didn't appear more like the end result of drunken yarn brawl instead of the innocent non-alcoholic little girl curl that I was aiming for.

Eyelets it was. And yes, it was easy enough to make the pattern in eyelets, but it took a while to get the decreases just-so, again just to steer away from the yarn brawl. I got there in the end, but wasn't content just to leave it *there*, I decided that this sock needed to be a mirror pattern! I think my brain was trying to make up for the fact that it had been beaten temporarily knocked-back by the dastardly cables...

So what do we have, then? 

A sock worked from the toe-up, incorporating cute little faux eyelet cable ginger-ale bubbles that fizz up the sides of the socks, an excellent new (for me) heel called the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, and scrolling curls that swirl all the way up from toe to cuff.

A simple cast-on, like the Turkish cast-on can be used, and only after a few rounds the first curl will twirl its way into sight. (Ed. Please note that I will always be the first to admit that eyelets and I are not the best of friends. We get along ok these days, but won't be on calling-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-bewail-the-state-of-the-world terms for a long while yet...)

The 5-stitch bubble edge pattern is also begun in the toe section, and pretty much everything is set-up and ready to go by the beginning of the foot pattern.

The Fish Lips Kiss Heel by Sox Therapist (Ravelry links) is a revelation to me. I won't give too much away, but I've never made such a well-fitting sock before. Like I say on the pattern, I have no affiliation to the designer, but boy, I'm going to be happy I discovered this gem for a very long time! You do have to pay $1 for the heel pattern, but let my voice add to the many others who think it's a real find, and say that it'll be the best sock-related $1 you'll ever spend!

See: that heel is just poetry in yarn!

Where you finish the pattern before the heel will determine where the curls start at the back. I wanted the curl there to appear like the first one in the toe (whether it spins clockwise, or anticlockwise is also determined by where you finished before the heel, and which foot you're working on) without the connection section. It's basically the same round as you'd work on the front, but without the extra yo and decrease to the side that joins one curl up with the next one.

(Note that for my Namolio version I actually used an afterthought/peasant heel, as I didn't want to disturb the colour journey up the sock!)

Once you're ready to start the cuff, there's a small transition section, then it's a simple matter to complete. I bound-off with another new-to-me bind-off: Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Cast-Off (this links to a YouTube video, but there seems to be quite a lot of variants to be found online) and was very pleased with the results!

So, there you have it - my tribute to a Hollywood star, and the drink named after her! And you too can make your very own tribute by clicking right HERE and you'll be whisked off to the Ravelry pattern page, complete with its own linky-loos!

Or, you can click right here on this little button to go straight to the paypal page, because who wants to waste time clicking over to Rav, when you can have this pattern RIGHT NAO!!!

And for only €3!! (Plus VAT, natch!)

Go on, you know you want to! :D

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Coffee To Go

caffè latte shawlette by yours truly
ice yarns angora design in 'brown shades'
ice yarns angora premium in 'ivory'
A caffè latte is more than just a milky coffee, even if it is exactly that when translated from the Italian!  But if you're a coffee drinker, well, it's much more that that; it's coffee heaven!

To the Italians, a caffè latte is a brew made at home for breakfast, which would be accompanied by one of their many delicious sweet pastries, but to those of us brought up more on coffee-shop coffee than home-made coffee from a moka pot, then, mmm-mmm, lattes are a staple for day-long caffeination!

I find watching a barista steam milk and gently pour it into an espresso, then add some latte art on the top in the form of a latte-are rosetta (or fern motif) just the right balance of relaxing viewing to counteract the caffeine shot about to hit!  Plus you have the added bonus of the extra yummy tasty coffee treats you can get; just by adding flavoured syrup you can be in caramel latte heaven!  Or pumpkin spice heaven! Or gingerbread latte heaven (my personal coffee cloud 9)!  

So, taking my favourite hot beverage as inspiration, the Caffè Latte shawlette has a latte rosetta edge, with lacy, frothy steamed milk:

a cabled hit of coffee bean:

with a short-row body of caffeine heaven, finishing with a simple eyelet edge - that bit of creamy froth that's always left in the bottom of your cup:

But really it's worked from the short edge of the latte strip using 3 balls of yarn at a time, and when I say simple intarsia, I mean simple!  So simple that this was my first attempt at working the technique!

The rosetta, froth, coffee bean cable, and more froth were all worked together in a long strip:

then bound-off to one stitch, turned 90 degrees and then picked-up lengthwise (please excuse the unfocussed photo):

and the body of the shawlette was worked in good old stockinette stitch, with the unsupped eyelet froth to finish!

You have a choice with the transfer of the contrast colour (I used the ivory as my contrast, the brown mix as the main colour) for the body of the shawl - you can do as I did and have a highlight ivory purl edge between both sections, which is worked in staggered lines (you can see it clearly in the first photo), or there are instructions for a pure stockinette changeover.  Both are pleasing to the eye in their own lovely way!

But where, I hear you ask, can we find such a tasty, tasty pattern?  Never fear, Ravelry and Loveknitting are here!  The main pattern page on Ravelry is open to ALL whether you are a member or not, and you can either click the buy-it-now link on the page, or you can click on the handy button below!  

Now, if you've read my last blog post, you'll know that payment will be a bit different for the next few months, so depending on where you are, you'll either find yourself going straight to the PayPal page as of old, or you'll find yourself at a Loveknitting page, and through that you'll be directed to PayPal. In the end, it's all still PayPal, just different ways of getting there.  There may be a slight delay for the link to work through loveknitting.com for EU buyers, but please check back.

But Red, I hear you ask again, how much are you charging for such deliciousness? Well...  this is where it gets complicated.  Give or take a few pennies/cents either way, I will be charging €4 for this lovely shawlette pattern... 

Normally with my new patterns, I like to offer you all a deal, money off the pattern with a special code, for example, but because of the new system of selling, it's not something I can do just now.  SO INSTEAD I'm taking 25% off the price for the next 2 weeks!  Yes indeed, until the 8th of March you'll find this delight available for the introductory price of €3 (or the monetary equivalent of your country!)

Grab it while it's hot!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Merry VATmess And A Bamboozling New Year

Micro-sellers roasting on a gov'ment whim,
VAT nibbling at your costs,
Yuletide tax being slapped on to skim
Tiny profit, all is lost,
It's a profit frost that doesn't help the little man
Make the season bright of yore,
Puny sales not worth much, down the pan,
Won't find it hard to close the store.

We know it started in '08,
Before the digi world was fixed in any state
To understand just how the internet
Would let the little guys soar like a jet.

Ravelry's offering a simple fix,
To help those suff'ring this snafu,
And with Loveknitting, all the boxes have ticks,
To bring patterns to the EU...

All parodies aside, it may have escaped your notice that the UK/EU in their desire to crack down on those big companies who are avoiding paying taxes in the UK (there's usually at least one story a week in the British tabloids about some massive company or other's UK tax dodge) has issued new tax laws that come in to force, oh, yesterday, to try and get them to cough up.  

Why is that a subject of YOUR blog post, Red?, I hear you ask... well...  It appears that all this new VAT tax shall probably achieve is the shutting down of many, many micro digital businesses...  It's a long, convoluted story on a subject that I must admit to not completely understanding enough to be able to wax lyrical, so I shall take Ravely's own code monkey, Casey's explanation:
On January 1st, 2015, a complex set of tax changes goes into effect in the European Union. Sellers of pattern PDFs now have to pay tax to European Union member countries when a pattern buyer resides in that country. [For more information and resources, see http://euvataction.org/]
You can imagine the amount of pain this will cause to micro businesses and hobby designers, and I understand that there are not just a few of which have chosen (keeping to my specialist area, knitting) to stop selling their patterns completely, or offer them all for free.

As a band-aid, Ravelry and Loveknitting (a yarny shop website that sells all things knitting and crochet) have teamed together to offer EU designers a way to keep selling their patterns but without the headache of working out the VAT for each different country in which the purchaser resides.  (Oh yes, it is that complicated!)  

What do you need to do?  Absolutely nothing.  You can buy patterns as normal, through Ravelry, through my links, and now, also through Loveknitting.  Depending on your location, you will either be directed to pay through the Ravelry platform, or the Loveknitting platform.  (They also Lovecrochet, too!)  But thanks to this new VAT, prices will change, albeit only by pennies/cents, and each country will have a separate rate. You cannot BEGIN to imagine how thankful I am for this collaboration between Loveknitting and Ravelry.

We've been given a 6 months fees-free chance to keep selling our patterns, which is marvellous.  IF this mess hasn't been cleaned-up after 6 months, then LK will begin to charge us 20% commission on every pattern it sells.  I hope you understand that I will have to match this commission in my prices if that day comes...  I hope not!

So, really, thanks for reading, thanks for buying, and thanks for knitting my patterns!  I would have been devastated to have to pull my patterns, and stop designing, so I think for now I'm just going to continue to be grateful for small mercies!

Merry New 2015!

(And because I can't leave this post without a little knitting pr0n, here's a little hint of something that should be getting released into the wild in a week!)  ;)

All text ⓒNW

Mair Bloag Weejits

Footerin' Aboot

Footerin' Aboot
Heh! I'm so funny!

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