I think autumn may be my favourite season. I’m really enjoying it being cold enough to wrap myself in wool without melting. I find woolly jumpers, blankets and socks (not an exhaustive list) very comforting and a cotton sheet may be a lot cooler but unfortunately doesn’t have the same ability to make me happy. I’m knitting a cardigan with Eden Cottage BFL Sock in Copper Bucket which is a lovely autumny colour. The pattern is Serina Cardigan by Gretchen Ronnevik and I think it will be really nice when it’s finished but I’m currently drowning under every increasing rows of 4ply stocking stitch.
I live in Hemel Hempstead which is not renowned for its beautiful landscapes but there are some very pretty spots around at the moment.
Dandelions in the afternoon sun ©Rachel Gibbs
Colourful leaves (if I had to guess, from a maple) ©Rachel Gibbs
One thing Hemel is famous for is conkers (and a really horrible roundabout) as apparently there were a lot of horse chestnuts planted to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII. There’s even a conker festival held in Hemel every year by The Boxmoor Trust who have lately expanded into a Wood, Wool and Food festival the day before. I helped out at the first one a few years ago but thankfully I think the photo that made it into the local paper has been lost to the mists of time. The easy availability of conkers does mean I’ve been able to test the efficacy of conkers as a spider repellent, although the results are not promising. I have been able to develop a theory on how my fear of spiders is not just related to size but to the leg-to-body ratio, which is interesting but not particularly helpful when one is stuck in my bath.
We’re having an old school games evening at Guides this week and we’re going to be trying to play conkers, along with skipping and hopscotch. Last week they made bird feeders out of coconuts and I think the lesson most of them learnt is that trying to remove coconut flesh with a table knife is really difficult!
I’ve been knitting lots of stripy socks lately. I find them very relaxing and it gives me a chance to investigate the effect of subtle changes.
Regia Design Line Ombré Stripe ©Rachel Gibbs
Opal Smokey Eyes & Coloured Lips ©Rachel Gibbs
The socks on the left have featured on this blog before. I used 60 stitches on 2.25mm (US1) dpns. For the socks on the right I used 64 stitches on 2mm (US0) dpns, although the finished size is almost the same for both socks. Both were worked top down with a flap and gusset heel. I found the Opal yarn was a bit softer than the Regia and as the stripes of the Opal are less regular I decided to match them for the second sock, whereas for the Regia I matched the stripe boundaries but not the colours.
Opal Little Prince ©Rachel Gibbs
For my next Opal socks I decided to try using a 9 inch circular as lots of people have been recommending them lately. As I prefer wood to metal, I bought a bamboo HiyaHiya needle in 2.25mm. I haven’t found anywhere in the UK which stocks the Chiaogoo 9 inch bamboo circulars but I liked the HiyaHiya. With such a short needle tip I didn’t have a problem with the bamboo bending, as I have found previously with HiyaHiya needles, and I found them comfortable to use. I also don’t have to worry about laddering with circulars, which is always an issue with dpns and shows up particularly on plain stocking stitch. The only problem I have found is that I have to change to dpns for the toe as the circumference becomes too small for the circulars.
I’ve also been hearing a lot about the Fish Lips Kiss Heel by Sox Therapist so I used that for these socks, which used 64 stitches. It was easy to work and I like the result. The only concern I have is that without a reinforced heel flap the socks will wear out quicker but I will have to wait for the result of that experiment.
WYS Signature 4ply Country Birds ©Rachel Gibbs
The final socks were made using a new yarn, again using the 9 inch circular and 64 stitches. It uses Blue Faced Leicester wool and is very soft but hopefully strong also. By happy coincidence I managed to get use a whole repeat of the stripe pattern for the heel and so the top of the foot matches perfectly with the leg. I wanted to see if a flap and gusset heel was as easy to work with the circular and there were no problems.
My obsession with stripy socks shows no sign of stopping soon and I have cast on another pair in Twisted Limone. I decided to break from tradition and make these toe up. The Twisted Limone is a bit thinner than a standard sock yarn so I am using 2mm needles which seem to be producing a nice fabric so far.