That Heel Girl

I needed a vanilla sock to help me through a difficult meeting, and not having one on the needles I chose a fun self striping by Unbelieva-wool from my stash. Ruth of rockandpurl had just done a series of blog posts on her perfect heel, known affectionately as That Heel Girl, and I decided this was the perfect opportunity to test it out.

Unbelieva-wool socks

Unbelieva-wool socks ©Rachel Gibbs

This heel has several factors: an unusual heel flap, a unique pick up method and gusset decreases placed on the bottom of the foot causing it to hug the foot in a pleasing manner. According to Ruth, this is a winning combination.

The only issue I found was that because the heel flap requires an odd number of stitches and I started with a multiple of 4 (my favourite 64 stitch cast on), the foot ended up with 33 stitches on the instep and 31 on the sole. This was fairly easy to accommodate when it came to the toe, however, and would be solved completely a round or star toe was used.

That Heel Girl

That Heel Girl ©Rachel Gibbs

I like the cushiness of the heel flap and the pick up method is very neat, although with self striping yarn you do get a flash of the wrong colour of yarn at the edges of the heel flap. I’m not sure the moved decreases are always worth the extra brainpower required to keep track but it does fit very well.

I love the wool, the colours are lovely and vibrant and it makes a great, smooth fabric. I think these socks are going to give me a little boost every time I wear them, and we all have days when that would help.

Watercolours and Lace bag

Rachel’s Got a Brand New Bag

I’m working on a mini sock collection and I’m currently knitting the second sample out of Triskelion Elen Sock that I got at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I always like to co-ordinate my knitting with its project bag and stitch markers and I knew the best bag for these socks was one that hadn’t been made yet. I bought a kit from Watercolours and Lace at Festiwool last year with a lovely green sheepy print that I knew would be perfect, so it was time to exercise my rusty sewing skills and try to put it together.

Festiwool purchases ©Rachel Gibbs

The kit, along with my other Festiwool purchases ©Rachel Gibbs

I found the instructions mainly very clear, although there were a few things I had to look up (including which way to iron interfacing). I learnt how to sew on patch pockets, how to bring thread to the back to tie off and how to top stitch. My Mum is very into patchwork and taught me the basics of sewing when I was a kid but it’s been a long time since I tried anything on my own. I did have to ask her for a little help with the assembly as I was struggling to get the lining to fit into the bag (my seam allowance wasn’t always perfectly to size) but apart from that I managed everything.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out and my sock has already moved in. By the time the bag was complete I had started on the second sock, which I’m hoping to finish for the Joeli Create’s No Nylon Sock KAL, but I finished the bag before the socks so I’m counting that as a win.

New Pattern: Out of Phase Socks

Out of Phase Socks

Out of Phase Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

I studied Electronic Engineering at university and that involved spending a lot of time thinking about sine waves. I like to incorporate the curving patterns into cables and Out of Phase Socks take this one step further. In signal processing phase is the offset between two waves. Being out of phase means the waves are always going in opposite directions.

Two sine waves out of phase

Two sine waves out of phase

These socks feature lots of curves, with the two large waves being mirrored and the small cables being two overlapping cables in opposite directions, forming open and closed spaces. Due to the fact that all the cables are moving in different directions, the cables are worked on alternate rounds, meaning there are no rest rounds. However, the repeat is small and so not too difficult.

Out of Phase Socks

Out of Phase Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

This is a top down, cabled sock pattern with a flap and gusset heel. The pattern has written and charted instructions and comes in three sizes – 7 (8.5, 10)”/17.5 (21.5, 25.5)cm.

I used Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in Dorian Grey which is a very smooth and rounded yarn and gives good stitch definition. The colour is somewhere between grey and blue and very hard to photograph accurately! The sample is size 8.5″/21.5cm and knit on 2.25mm needles. I’m quite a loose knitter so you may need to use a larger needle size.

Out of Phase Socks

Out of Phase Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

Thanks again to my tech editor, Fiona, and my lovely test knitters. I always love watching the finished pictures come in. You can see their great work at my bundle (we’ll not mention the banana incident).

Visit the Ravelry pattern page here for more information and buy the pattern for £3.00+VAT directly here.

If you like this design and want to be notified of future pattern releases, sign up to my newsletter in the sidebar.

Edinburgh Yarn Festival Photo Post

I didn’t catch the EYF bug that seems to be going round but I did manage to sprain my hand getting off the bus (no I don’t know how I managed it either). While my hand is a lot better than it was, I’m just going to share some photos of my favourite bits as typing one-handed is quite awkward!

Wise Words ©Rachel Gibbs

Wise Words ©Rachel Gibbs

Blue Moon indigo-dyed yarns from The Border Tart ©Rachel Gibbs

Blue Moon indigo-dyed yarns from The Border Tart ©Rachel Gibbs

Gorgeous Gradients at Bilum ©Rachel Gibbs

Gorgeous Gradients at Bilum ©Rachel Gibbs

Old Maiden Aunt ©Rachel Gibbs

Old Maiden Aunt ©Rachel Gibbs

Woolly cushions  ©Rachel Gibbs

Woolly cushions ©Rachel Gibbs

Lili's Knits ©Rachel Gibbs

Lili’s Knits ©Rachel Gibbs

EYF 2016 Haul ©Rachel Gibbs

EYF 2016 Haul/My 27th birthday presents ©Rachel Gibbs

New Pattern: Regency Socks

Regency Socks were first published in Knit Now issue 17 and I’ve now got around to republishing. They are available on Ravelry and shortly on LoveKnitting.

Regency Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

Regency Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

The inspiration for these socks came from damask wallpaper popular in the Regency era with motifs encased in a diagonal grid. This is a top down, cabled sock pattern with a flap and gusset heel. It has an allover cabled grid with a small twisted design in each space. The pattern flows into the heel and toe smoothly through the use of transition charts.

Back view of Regency Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

Back view of Regency Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

The pattern has written and charted instructions and comes in four sizes – 6.75 (8, 9.25, 10.5)”/17 (20, 23.5, 26.5)cm. This is one more size than the original magazine pattern.

The sample was made in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Chino and 2.25mm needles. This is a nice smooth yarn which gives a good stitch definition to the cables while also being soft. Due to the extensively cabled nature of the design more than 100g may be required for larger sizes.

The Ravelry pattern page is here for more information and you can buy the pattern for £3.00+VAT directly here.

If you like this design and want to be notified of future pattern releases, sign up to my newsletter in the sidebar.

Dawlish Socks by Rachel Coopey

Before Christmas I had the urge to knit socks that were more interesting than vanilla but didn’t require any decisions on my part (being in the middle of releasing Falling Petals). I decided on Dawlish by Rachel Coopey from her first book Coop Knits Socks. Rachel Coopey is one of my favourite designers; I think I’ve made more of her socks that anyone else’s. She has a real talent for creating interesting designs and her patterns are always well written.

Dawlish Socks

Dawlish Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

These are made from Artesano Definition Sock in Kidney Bean. This yarn gives good stitch definition and feels like it will wear well. I used my 2.25mm KnitPro Karbonz DPNs, which are my favourite if a pattern involves cables as I find 9″ circulars don’t have enough room to maneuver properly. This did mean, however, that I put these socks on hold for a few weeks so I could use the needles on a new sock design I couldn’t wait to cast on.

I’m really happy with how these turned out and I even remembered to use the mirrored instructions for the second sock, which I didn’t with the last pair I made from this book. For my next Rachel Coopey pair I think I’ll have to try her new yarn Socks Yeah!. Maybe by Edinburgh Yarn Fest I’ll have decided on a colour, they’re all so pretty it’s hard to pick.

New Pattern: Falling Petals Socks

It may have been 2 years in the making but Falling Petals Socks is finally available to purchase on Ravelry.

Falling Petals Socks

Falling Petals Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

This is a top down, cabled sock pattern with a flap and gusset heel. It has an allover pattern of diamonds travelling down twisted cables and a patterned heel flap. The pattern has written and charted instructions and comes in three sizes – 7 (8.5, 10)”/17.5 (21.5, 25.5)cm.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of cabled socks and I like the way this simple idea has turned into an attractive pattern, even if it did give some challenges in the design stages. The large motif size means that while the medium size is symmetrical about the foot, the other two sizes have motifs on alternating sides.

Falling Petals Front

Falling Petals full frontal view ©Rachel Gibbs

I would recommend cabling without a cable needle for this pattern as it only uses two stitch cables and there are a lot of them! If you haven’t tried this technique before, I like this tutorial from Ysolda.

The sample is made in size 8.5″/21.5cm using Eden Cottage BFL Sock in Antique Rose. I really like this yarn as it has the delicate look I wanted for this design but should still be hard-wearing. It is on the thin side for a sock yarn, with 436yds/400m to 100g, and the pattern is knit on 2mm needles accordingly. The largest size may require more than 100g, especially if the wearer has long feet. Eden Cottage is currently having a New Year’s Sale until January 8th, so if you are thinking of buying, now is a good time to do so.

The pattern needs a yarn with good stitch definition, and a solidish colour helps the cables to stand out as well. My testers had success with Regia and Artesano Definition after a few false starts. Several also went up a needle size, so make sure to check gauge and pick needles to suit.

The Ravelry pattern page is here for more information and you can buy the pattern for £3.00+VAT directly here.

Massive thanks to Joeli’s Kitchen, without her bootcamp this design would still be languishing waiting for me to find the courage and the motivation and the final product would not be nearly as polished. I also had great support from my tech editor, Fiona from alittlebitsheepish, and my intrepid test knitters: woollenwords, jraltonsmith, Turtleback, herrlene, ButFirstCoffee and Olga25.

Joeli is holding a knit-a-long of all the bootcamp designs in her ravelry group in the new year. I featured some of my favourites in the previous post and would love to see some Falling Petals being included.

I have several more designs in the works (with lots of cables, of course), and have started a newsletter you can sign up to in the sidebar to be the first to know about new pattern releases.

Joeli’s Kitchen Designer Bootcamp

I’ve mentioned before that Joeli has been running a bootcamp for inexperienced designers and I’ve found it really helpful. She’s given out lots of useful information and doesn’t mind answering my stupid questions. Not only that, she’s great at building people’s confidence and helping them realised that everyone has the same insecurities.

The bootcamp is due to finish at the end of December. My pattern is almost ready and just waiting for all my test knitters to finish, but there are other great patterns that have already been released, here are some of my favourites so far.

Julianna’s hat shows off her semi solid yarn really well. It’s a simple concept but well executed. I loved watching her periscopes on the development of this pattern. It also comes in  a two colour version with the slipped stitches in one colour, which is a nice touch.

I love the way the cables flow together in Ana’s hat. From the brim to the body and then the decreases. It can be tricky to decrease in pattern but she pulls it off well.

These socks are in a beautiful blue colour and have cables, of course I love them. They have little cables all over the front with lovely wavy cables at the side. I’m also impressed by Jaccqui’s choice of location for the photo shoot.

Knitting For Peace

There’s been a lot of talk on social media lately about knitting and mental health issues, particularly aplayfulday‘s #makegoodfeelgood campaign.

I’ve been on sick leave for more than a year due to problems with depression and anxiety. Through this time I may have knitted different, less challenging, things than I would if I was well but I continue to make things. I find it helps to be doing something productive and the process of knitting is relaxing (most of the time).

Knitting doesn’t only help me in the moment, it also helps me to connect with other people. Having depression can make people very isolated, especially if, like me, they develop agoraphobic tendencies. I’ve really enjoyed going to knitting events and talking to other knitters this year. Finding people who are just as interested as you are in that unusual hat construction, or the quest for the perfect needles is a great way to feel connected. While there are support groups for people with mental health issues, I’d rather talk about knitting than my personal issues any day of the week.

Periscope has also helped me to find like-minded knitters to talk to. For the uninitiated Periscope is a Twitter offshoot that allows people to broadcast videos and get responses in real time. There is a community of knitting periscopers and I can either just watch if I’m having a quiet day or comment if I’m feeling better. I’m far too camera-shy to scope myself, but I really appreciate the people who do.

A selection of hats and a scarf for Knit for Peace ©Rachel Gibbs

A selection of hats and a scarf for Knit for Peace ©Rachel Gibbs

Lately I’ve been knitting for Knit for Peace, a charity who distributes knitted goods to people in need. I’ve found this a great way to use up some of my leftovers (which were threatening to take over my flat) and satiate my need to knit hats when I already have plenty (until I lose the current set). It looks like this winter is going to be terrible weather wise and given the international situation at the moment, there are plenty of people who are going to be spending it in far less than optimal conditions. A hat isn’t much but hopefully it will keep someone a bit warmer and let them know that there are people who want to help.

There’s a plain stocking stitch hat in Adriafil Knitcol, a hat with helical stripes in Wendy Ramsdale DK, an Opari from Ysolda Teague’s Knitworthy in Stylecraft Ethical Twist 70/30 and Chrysanthemum frutescens Hat from The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend as well as a 1×1 ribbed scarf in Sirdar Escape DK. I found the brioche in Opari and Chrysanthemum frutescens really interesting as I hadn’t done this much before.

Festiwool

On Saturday I went to Festiwool, a relatively new wool festival in Hitchin. I was offered a free ticket by the organisers which was very kind, although it felt very funny telling the front desk I was on the guest list!

It was a rather grey day outside so it was nice to see colourful bunting (and a yarnbombed bike) leading up to the venue. It wasn’t as big as the other shows I’ve been to but there were a lot of local vendors who I hadn’t heard of before and a good mix of different crafts – knitting (of course), crochet, spinning, felting and probably a few others.

I always love seeing wool painted pictures – made by needle felting different layers of fibre to build up an image. The International Felt Association had some lovely sheep pictures, with the different fleeces using different types of fibre which was very effective. Unfortunately, my pictures didn’t come out terribly well, but they were a lot more impressive in person.

Painting with wool ©Rachel Gibbs

Painting with wool ©Rachel Gibbs

Going to a craft show always makes me want to learn new things, especially spinning and crochet this time as there were lots of lovely things on show, including Jane Crawford‘s persian tiles blanket, these lovely blue/silver batts and Woolly Chic‘s crocheted cat tea cosies.

Lovely things spotted at Festiwool

Lovely things spotted at Festiwool ©Rachel Gibbs

I managed to resist buying everything in sight (narrowly at times) but didn’t come home empty handed. I had been admiring the new West Yorkshire Spinners Country Birds yarns ever since they started floating around on twitter and I hoped (correctly) that someone would have them for sale. I chose the Kingfisher colourway as I thought it was very distinctive and I’m a sucker for a nice blue.

Festiwool purchases ©Rachel Gibbs

Festiwool purchases ©Rachel Gibbs

I also bought some Sokkusu O in Colour of the Underground from Whimzy. This is a narrow self striping yarn, alternating between grey and multicoloured. I’m looking forward to seeing how this knits up. Rosie’s Moments had these really interesting sock rulers. Not only do they have centimeters on one side and inches on the other, they have charts for men and women’s shoe sizes and the corresponding foot length. I’m hoping this will be harder to lose than a tape measure and will also save me from asking my dad how big his feet are, again!

It was one of my 15-in-15 goals to make some project bags. So far I have failed miserably  on this goal, having made a grand total of none. I had been admiring Watercolours and Lace‘s project bags earlier in the show and then realised they also made a kit. I love this sheep print and the instructions seem very clear so hopefully I will have a least one completed project bag by the end of the year.

Hand woven scarf from Porpoise Fur ©Rachel Gibbs

Hand woven scarf from Porpoise Fur ©Rachel Gibbs

My Mum is a crafter and so I was on the lookout for possible Christmas presents, knowing that she would appreciate something handmade. I had seen Porpoise Fur‘s hand woven scarves on twitter and made a mental note to seek them out. She had a great selection and it took a while to decide on a colour but I picked this orange and purple one with the lovely name of Buccaneer.

The show also featured a fashion show with clothes from local independent retailers and some made by fashion students at North Hertfordshire College (where the show was held). While no one has ever described me as fashion conscious, it was interesting seeing the outfits that had been put together. Some were really nice and wearable, others less practical. I enjoying seeing how they accessorised with some items from the vendors, such as lace shawls and hand spun necklaces.

It feels like Festiwool is still finding it’s feet a bit, there were some moments that clearly didn’t quite go to plan, but it was a very enjoyable afternoon. I met up with some friends from previous shows and had a good chat with some of the stall holders. I like that it wasn’t too crowded so the atmosphere felt very relaxed and friendly, but still seemed lively.