Category Archives: Crochet and Knitting

Knitted cuff down socks

As the temperatures cool and the nights start drawing in, my thoughts turn to cosy clothing and a spot of knitting. I really like my first pair of knitted socks and was keen to make some more, but also to try different styles. So when I saw the Craftsy knit original cuff down socks class on sale, I enrolled right away.

If you want to knit socks with easy customisation options I would highly recommend this class (there is also an equivalent toe up class if that is your preference). The tutor Donna Druchunas takes you through the fundamentals of sock construction, including a variety of stitch patterns suitable for socks along with both video walk throughs and written patterns for 3 heals and 3 toes so you can mix and match to your heart’s content.

cuff down knitted socks

While I love the self striping pattern of my first pair, my skin is quite sensitive to wool so I can only comfortably wear them over tights or other socks. Hence for my next pair, I wanted a yarn that was cotton based with no wool content – turns out this is not easy to find in a sock yarn! Eventually I found a yarn called superba cotton stretch which is 79% cotton, 18% polyamide, 3% polyester at Liss Wools, a lovely village shop in Hampshire near my parents. I’m afraid I can’t find a link to the same yarn, but I brought colours 003 and 004.

knitted cuff down socks

Despite the many stitch options covered in the class, I felt that a classic pair of socks in stocking stitch would work well with the solid colour yarn I had. Although I used a contrast colour for the cuff, heal and toe to add interest. I ended up unraveling and restarting twice in order to get them the right size as they started out way too baggy. I see now why the rib pattern of my first version was such a good choice, far more forgiving fit wise!

knitted cuff down socks

For the cuff I did a simple 1×1 rib then the heal and toe are short rows which I hadn’t done before. It wasn’t until I’d done the heal of a sock that I could try them on to make accurate assessment of the fit, so the unraveling meant I got plenty of practice at short rows! Once I got the hang of it, I didn’t find it very difficult and like the look it gives with the solid colour socks. The heals get quite stretched out when wearing which shows a few small holes where the heals start, which probably means my technique could do with some improvement!

I really enjoyed working on the socks – a great project to work on while watching TV or chilling out with friends/family as the majority is just simple knitting in the round. So it wasn’t long before I had the next pair cast on using the opposite colour combination.

striped knitted cuff down socks

I decided to go for a stripe pattern this time as I wasn’t sure I wanted so much pink. I don’t think I was carrying the blue yarn in the best way as there is a bit of a ridge down the stitches on which I was switching, but I don’t think it really matters for a project. I might even call it a design feature!

striped knitted cuff down socks

The yarn is lovely and I like the colours together, but I think there were only one or two other solid colours to choose from at the shop. Must admit I feel a little disappointed at the fact that of the many lovely self striping sock yarns out there I couldn’t find any that had no wool, so if you know of any non wool sock yarns, especially of the self patterning variety, please let me know!

striped knitted cuff down socks

I’m very tempted to make myself another pair as I enjoy knitting them, but if I’m honest with myself 3 pairs of knitted socks is really all I need. Perhaps I should switch to a pair of mittens for a similarly straight forward knitting project!

Are you a sock knitter? Do you have a favourite heal and toe style or preference between knitting them cuff down or toe up?

First knitted socks

Hello there! I’ve got some more knitting to share with you today – my first pair of socks.

While out shopping a while ago I found myself drawn to the lovely selection of self patterning sock yarns available. I think I’ve been a little envious of numerous knitted socks that I’ve seen on the blogosphere, so went ahead and brought myself a ball of Regia Snowflake Ski 07708. The practical side of me was very happy to see that the yarn is machine washable up to 40 degrees (can’t be doing with hand washing socks)! Then I set about finding a suitable pattern…

self striping socks front

The a nice ribbed sock pattern by Glenna of Glenna Knits fit the bill nicely – I figured the ribbing would help make all the knitting on small needles a bit more interesting while not adding to the complexity (since this is my first pair after all) and it is kindly provided as a free pattern.

I treated myself to some bamboo 2.5mm double pointed needles (dpns) for this, which were great to work with. I’ve found that I am more comfortable using 5 dpns than the 4 assumed in the pattern which meant I had to concentrate a little more when working the heel and gusset as the pattern references needle number, but it wasn’t a big deal.

self striping socks back view

As I have big feet (that are totally in proportion with my tall frame!) I sized up the pattern by casting on 72 stitches instead of 64. I’ve also since realised that the choice of a ribbed pattern was a great move for my first pair of socks as it makes the fit pretty forgiving!

The stitch repeat in the heel is not one I’ve come across before and I was a little unsure how it would turn out, but all is fine and I guess the pattern helps to give the heel a bit of extra strength? As well as the totally new to me technique of creating the heel and gusset, I enjoyed getting a bit more practice of Kitchener stitch (aided by the free Craftsy class Ins & Outs of Grafting) to close up the toes. It is so satisfying to create the invisible join!

self striping socks side detail

The perfectionist in me of course wanted to knit up two identical socks, so I made sure to start the first sock at a point where there was a distinct colour change in the yarn that I could use again for the second one. Came out pretty well even if I do say so myself!

I’m very happy with these socks and love wearing them around the house keeping my feet warm in cold weather. Unfortunately I’ve found that the wool makes them too itchy to be comfortable wearing next to my skin (a problem I always have with wool), hence I’m usually wearing them over tights as in the pictures.

self striping socks side view

For my next pair I’ll be hunting out some cotton sock yarn so that I have the option of wearing them as regular socks as well as over tights. I’m finding the vast majority of sock yarn is a wool blend, especially the ones dyed to be self patterning, so if you know of any good cotton alternatives please let me know!

Knitted hat

Hi there! I’ve been a bit quiet here, but with the new year I’m refreshed and making good progress with a few projects so hope to be posting regularly again. To start, I’d like to share with you this hat that I finished last month.

I hadn’t done much knitting over the last year or two, but after discovering that a couple of my colleagues knit and looking through some of the fantastic things they’ve made I was inspired to pick up the needles again.

For a few years now I’ve been meaning to knit myself a hat as the store brought one that I used to wear would get a bit itchy after a while. I’ve had visions of designing a stranded knitting pattern along with ear flaps, but decided to start simple to ease myself back in. I’d also expected it to get colder earlier in the season and so was keen to be able to finish the hat fairly quickly!

Knitted hat

I made this using a yarn that I’d brought in New York a few years ago – Malabrigo Rios colour Archangel 850. The yarn is lovely and soft, so comfortable to wear all day. Plus it says it has good washability, so practical too!

To make the hat, I used the gauge from a test square and my head circumference to calculate the number of stitches required and started out with single ribbing, knitting it long enough to turn up. For the main body of the hat I wanted something a little more interesting than simply stocking stitch but as the yarn has a lovely variegated colour I also didn’t want a fussy pattern, so I settled on an uneven basket weave.

Knitted hat flat

I knit the hat using a circular needle so it was a quick make with no sewing up at the end. It wasn’t until I got to the decreasing that I realised I didn’t have any double pointed needles of the right size, but as I was impatient to finish by that time I decided to try using the magic loop method for the first time. While the first few rounds were not the easiest since the number of stitches was so high in comparison to the length of the needle, I managed to make it work and finished up the hat very quickly. I am happy to have tried a new technique and can certainly see its appeal for projects that you take travelling.

All in all, I’m very happy with this hat and it is starting to get plenty of wear now that it is turning colder here in London. I think I’ve caught the knitting bug again, so am already working on some socks for my next project…

Knitted mittens

Despite the warm sunny weather we’ve been having in London, it is time to share some of my knitting with you!

For the past few years most of my knitting has been self drafted, which has meant slow projects and these mittens were no exception.

mittens

The mittens were made for a lovely friend of mine who is often doing sweet, thoughtful things for me so I wanted to make her something as a way of giving back. We picked out the yarn at John Lewis (Sirdar Montana double knitting shade 0200), I took a few measurements, she told me the kind of style she liked then I set to work.

I’ve made myself some gloves before which thankfully were about the right size for her so I could use that pattern as a rough base. There was still quite a bit of unpicking and reworking though as I experimented with the shaping and also to get a nice colour distribution since using the yarn as is would have resulted in a much longer green section.

Shamefully I have to admit that these were finished a winter later than intended, but my friend was very patient and grateful when they were finally complete. Their first outing was a walk through the London royal parks on a pretty cold winter day so we warmed up with some yummy hot chocolate after 🙂

mittens and hot chocolate

It’s a bird…It’s a plane…It’s Superminion!

Following the popularity of the previous minions in my family, I wanted to make one for my sister too.  Her request was for a nerdy crossover minion, which prompted some fun research seeing all the amazing pictures people have done of minions as various film characters.  I decided to go for a very recognisable (and not overly complicated as I was a bit pushed for time) character, which also has a nice ring to it – Superminion!

Superminion

It was fun to get back to the design phase around how best to make his outfit.  In my first attempt I did all layers of the body (head, shirt, belt and pants) as stripes in one piece, but the belt looked more like a belly (bringing up visions of Homer Simpson instead of a superhero!) so I unpicked and just transitioned from shirt to pants and made a separate belt.  The cape took a bit of reworking to get the right shape, but I’m happy with the result.

Superminion side view

Superminion back view

I’m afraid I didn’t take a series of adventure shots of the minions this time, but here’s a few of the whole gang and of Superminion tackling some monsters!

All five minions

Superminion and Anna

Minions and Disney card

Superminion vs monsters

Superminion flying over New York

It’s a girl!

Having made minions for my dad and brother (here, here and here), I of course also had to make one for my mum.  Mum requested a girl minion, so meet Anna:

Anna minion front view

After a few discussions about how best to dress her, we agreed that she should wear the same practical clothing as the boys (don’t want her to miss out on any of the fun!).  So to give her a feminine touch, I sewed on some eyelashes and gave her long hair.  It was quite fun researching the different ways to create amigurumi hair.  I’m pleased with the option I went for.  It started out much longer and she got gradual hair cuts until it felt about right.

Anna minion side view

Otherwise, making her was the same as the other minions so I’ll just leave you with photos from the minions’ trip to a nearby country house:

Minions and mushroom

Minions at Uppark

Minions on a wire

Minions in sculpture

Minions in a tree

Minions outside dolls house

Minions in dolls house

Minions in ladder

Minions in beer cellar

The three minion amigos

If you have seen the Despicable Me films, you may have noticed that there are 3 different minion hairstyles, well my brother wanted a second minion (Ed the minion was his first) so I got to experiment with another variation – meet Bob:

Crochet minion Bob front view

Crochet minion Bob side view

I must admit, if I’d realised I’d be making a few minions I might have thought twice about all the fiddly details I put into them, they are definitely not a quick make, but at the same time I think it is those little details that make me love them so much.

Three crochet minions

Hopefully this isn’t a sign I’m going crazy, but I’m starting to imagine personalities for the minions!  Bob’s neat hair and slightly awkward leg angle make him seem a bit more reserved and introverted than his friends while I think Ed is a bit of a rebel and a joker and Kevin is laid back, curious and tends to go with the flow.

Of course, after meeting a new friend, the minions wanted to go adventure seeking:

Crochet minions meet some animals

Crochet minions on a bench

Crochet minions walking

Crochet minions bird watching

Crochet minions in rhubarb

Crochet minions and house

The next minion will be for my mum, who’s requested a girl minion.  An interesting challenge and a chance to try yet another hairstyle…

Another crochet minion

Kevin the minion became an instant hit in my family, but we didn’t want him to get lonely or bored so meet his friend, Ed:

Crochet minion front view

Crochet minion side view

This minion was much quicker to make as I’d already figured out the basic pattern with Kevin.  It was easy to shorten his body to be “regular” minion size.  After threading through his hair I gave him gradually shorter haircuts until the length seemed right.  Then there was only a little trial and error to get his bigger, single eye looking good.

Crochet minions

Kevin looks happy to have a friend!  The minions are proving quite popular, so I’ll be making some more variations, but for now I’ll leave you with Kevin and Ed having a little explore…

Crochet minions and horse ornament

Crochet minions in flowers

Crochet minions

Crochet minions

Crochet minions

Crochet minions and house