From by a wild bit of water, while knitting gloves

From by a wild bit of water, while knitting gloves, @amanda_l_jones_52 asked #widn. Well, I am contemplating this item. Not a model of a #skein, but some cheese, bought from our Turkish-flavoured high street. It was labelled “plait cheese”. It is not a good addition to salads, it turns out, but I am wondering if frying/melting it will bring out its magic. Mmmmmelted cheese. #cheese #melted #i❤️cheese #plaitcheese #timetorevealall #letsbehavinyer #cheesus
Are you similarly dinner-based, @muirandco, @woollenflower and @theroobeedoo?

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August 26, 2016 at 07:34PM


🎵Knitter, I’m gonna make you sweat

🎵Knitter, I’m gonna make you sweat/ Sweat until you can’t knit no more🎵*
I’d thought 11pm would have been cool enough to finish the cuff on the second sock, but it was not. Particularly with robust #Opal yarn, designed to be cosily hardwearing rather than refreshingly cold. One #sewnbindoff later (so stretchy! So simple!) I was perspiring rather. But I had an #FO for the #summersockskal! All worth it. Just 2 #wips to go, and that will be it. Foolishly, I left slow ones until the end, so no more #quickwins. #Knitter, learn from this. #msFOtastic #shaggy #nearlyasbad #FOtography #sockknittersofinstagram #sockyarn #sockknitting #sockknitter #whippedemoffafterthepic #handknittedsocks #seasonalfootwear *don’t go and look up the correct lyrics.

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August 25, 2016 at 01:20PM


What I think about when I think about untangling

Stout skeinThis wool came from an LYS in Paris, Les Tricoteurs Volants (The Flying Knitters), which is run by Enrico, and crammed full of yarns from the lesser-spotted end of the spectrum.

I was there with my friends Rae, Alitzah, Gemma, Mairead, Cinthia and Emma on a day of yarn-based gallivanting that had begun as a dreamy “Let’s do Paris yarn crawl one day.” We had already been to La Bien Aimée, so full of sweet-shop colours, and stopped for lunch at the original part of Aimee’s empire, L’Oisive Thé. It was a hot July day, and I was thinking of our next stop, a nice cold cafe, when something caught my eye.

High up on one of the walls, far above the colourful hanks of handspun and silk and alpaca, was an outsize skein of undyed organic wool, intriguingly labelled STOUT, from the Italian company Borgo de’ Pazzi. I’d been planning to stick to French-produced sock yarn, but this skein was a) unusual and b) about half the price. And c) I like Nigella’s Guinness cake.

Stout label

There was a large cowl on the counter as a sample, and its soft folds released a sheepy smell (I can’t get more precise than that, sorry — must research technical terms for wool aromas) so compulsive I bought it.

After 10 weeks of devotion to knitting with sock yarn during the #summersockskal, I fancied a change of scale, so yesterday evening I dug out the skein, snipped its ties, didn’t adequately restrain it, and it burst into the tangle below.

Tangle, stage 1
The thumbs-up usually happens at the end of the tangling, but I was rather excited

I like a tangle, and the satisfaction of untangling, so with an empty house and work done for the day, I set to.

Tangle, stage 2
At this point I did rather wonder what I’d gotten into

There’s a theory among some knitters that skeins should always be hand-wound, sacrificing the speed of a ball-winder in order to get to know your materials, to experience the wool in a different way before the knitting begins.

Tangle, stage 3
The scale of the task hit home
Tangle, stage 4
Possibly halfway there
Tangle, stage 5
The light had changed a bit by now






I can see the attraction of this, but would rarely take the time to do it. Hand-winding usually happened when untangling other people’s tangles — the initial challenge of laceweight, the sheer length of Hedgehog Fibres. When I’m sorting out someone else’s, I usually think about the person, and how the tangle happened, and imagine what the yarn will become once liberated from its bonds.

With this one, I knew all those things, so was led into a pondering on how the wool made me feel. What came to mind, prompted by its scent and the feel of soft, ever-so-slightly oily, fibres?

… The warmth of a cushion until recently occupied by a cat.

… The wool my aunt Joan used to spin from the scraps she found while out rambling, mostly in the Lake District. I remember her carding the fleece and spinning in her back garden in Hackney, in the sunshine, little bits of fibre floating in the air. Here’s a scrap I picked up out of family habit, while in Yorkshire this month.

little bit of fleece

… These pictures, of a three-year-old me with arms full of bunny, wearing what I remember to be a jumper knitted by my mother.



… But above all, the safe comfort of a long embrace from someone wearing a woolly jumper, their body heat wakening the sheepiness, in a combination of warmth and soft smell.

So here is the skein, now a ginormous, melon-size ball. The pattern for that very effective shop sample was designed by Alice Twain, specifically to show off the gradual gradient of the wool, which comes from two undyed shades being spun together. You can find Sciarpa ad Anello, her (free) pattern, on Ravelry. The name made me think of fictional detectives, but means just Looped Scarf. It was 29C in London today, so I have been working from a cool cafe, with meetings and pattern-editing and planning. Modern cafe life, particularly from behind a laptop, feels very modern. But in my bag I have wool, smelling of family, and some of my oldest memories, rolled up into a ball*.

No more tangle

* Can you hear the echo of the ball that Andrew Marvell was entreating his coy mistress to grab?

“Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.”

Oh dear. Here’s a calamity and no mistake

Oh dear. Here’s a calamity and no mistake. What on earth has happened. A massive (200g) very #woolly #skein has got itself in a #tangle, through careless handling at the crucial tie-snipping moment. What’s a girl to do? With #techediting finished for the day, Mr Words not home for an hour and the children away, there’s only one thing for it … #knotaproblem #mmm #myveryowntangle #untanglersofinstagram #mineallmine #theprecious #59minutesandcounting

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August 22, 2016 at 06:35PM


Holy moly, where’s the #knitting?

Holy moly, where’s the #knitting? Tomorrow I am off to Barcelona, for a hen do. I’ve checked out the airlines’ various lists of banned items, and don’t want to be fretting/sweating in the security queue, so am leaving the knitting and its knitting needles at home. And instead, crochet! My skills have been dormant for a while, but this pretty #cowl, #Malvern by @notsogranny, from her book with @katgoldin #CrochetYeah! (Bought from @bluestockingwoolshop) looks simple and repetitive enough for me. And that’s foreseeing a me after early starts and a hangover (likely). I’ve just done the swatching, and the calculating — yarn for this will be a skein of Polwarth by @lionessarts and a gradient set by @theknittinggoddess — and if I can put it down at any point, it will get packed along with all the pink veils, willy straws and other dubious items (joke). (But the crochet will be packed.) #knitter #crocheter #thecrochetproject #crochestagram #dormantskills #bicraftual #myotherwipisaknit #butitsnotcomingwithme #holidayfromsockknitting #coldturkey #medicatewithsangria #oranicecoldbeer #hendofear

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August 18, 2016 at 04:55PM


Dear the #Olympics, You are fascinating, inspiring, informative and surprising

Dear the #Olympics,
You are fascinating, inspiring, informative and surprising. And also your late-night epics are helping me turn #sock #wips into #FOs. Hello #Wendel, designed by General Hogbuffer; available for free on #Ravelry; relentlessly recommended by @psychoknitter; knitted in @yarncarnival wool dyed by Ana (colourway: Beet); bought by Mr Words from @hillcountryweavers in #Austin. And now, courtesy of Team GB’s extraordinary cyclists, finished off by me. Right foot: not pictured, being used for balance. This pattern is not a sprint, but “endurance” is wrong too. [Insert #omnium analogy here after a coffee.] #knitter #sockknitter #sockknitting #handknit socks #sockittome #generalhogbuffer #sockknittersofinstagram #sockgameonpoint #summersockskal #3wipstogo #plustheotherwips

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August 17, 2016 at 09:11AM


From their holidays in eastern France and southern England

From their holidays in eastern France and southern England, @fromcinthia and @thewoolkitchen asked #widn. After a day of #techediting (hats, socks, and planning for big projects), I have half an hour before #childretrievaltime, and thought I’d assess the state of my #summersockskal #wips. From top left: the second of a pair of vanilla #socks in an #Opal 💙💛 colourway; #IHeartBees in Socks Yeah! (previous tangling was the result of me tensioning the yarn too tight, inspection reveals); #Wendel in @yarncarnival Beet, v close to finishing; #Lilybet by @coopknits in @easyknitter yarn. I’d love to finish all 4 pairs by 15 Sept, and may throw all my rules about particular pairs on particular days out of the window to get that done. Not pictured: a 75%-done own design, a secret test knit, and a second little pair of strawberry socks. That have not yet been cast on. #knitter #timebender #sockknittersofinstagram #sockknitter #sockyarn #sockknitting

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August 16, 2016 at 05:03PM


🎵I woke up early this morning / I don’t think y’all heard me🎵

🎵I woke up early this morning / I don’t think y’all heard me🎵 A quiet hour before everyone else is up — particularly on such a gorgeous, crisp summer’s morn — can feel like a total indulgence. And today it’s a birthday present to myself. Next treat: two-colour #brioche in the round, and later ice-skating with Child 1, #cake with Sister, and sushi with Mr Words. Happy birthday to my friend and birthday buddy @louisetilbrookdesigns, and everyone else who is celebrating theirs today. That includes you, Tony Robinson. #ratauvan #geophys #knitter #nottony #me #happybirthday #yarncake #woolcake #nearlyasgoodascheesecake #birthdaygirlsofinstagram #candle #fourcandles

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August 15, 2016 at 07:16AM


Woohoo! This meetup has been planned for a while

Woohoo! This meetup has been planned for a while, and was hatched in the lovely bosom of the Summer Socks KAL group on Ravelry, home of anything to do with the #summersockskal. This sock-based (it’s true) KAL was dreamt up by @psychoknitter, began on June 15 (or was it 14th? It has been a blur) and finishes on September 15. Meetups have taken place round the UK — and in California — and we have made new friends, found new patterns, and fallen in love with pretty pretty #sockyarn. It’s not too late to join in, and there are BRILLIANT prizes if you post a pic in the Rav group of socks cast on and finished during these 3 months. One of those prizes is an #editing session with me — great for designers or writers, or you can pass it on to a friend. Or store it away for a rainy day. Right, back to the #knitting. Before I meet up with #knitters, and #knit. The get-together is in Angel, not far from the station, from 12-5ish. Contact me for exact details. Happy Saturday, everyone! #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #sockymeetup #handknitsocks #orcrocheted #angel #quitenearLoop #iheartheresasaleontoday #vicariousstashenhancement

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August 13, 2016 at 11:39AM


Annnnd back in the Big Smoke

Annnnd back in the Big Smoke. A #pint and a #pair in #Tottenham yesterday evening with @thewoolkitchen — have you seen her new labels? So pro — one of the few days this summer that we are in the same city at once. Beer got in the way of extensive #woolhead plans, but I wrote at least 5 big things down. The #socks are a largely improvised design, based on knitting various @knitsharelove designs from her Sock Anatomy pattern book, and are sized to fit 5.5yo Child 1. The yarn is one she chose from my stash: a #strawberrytastic special skein dyed by @lizicee, aka Strawberry Fields Yarns. The skein came with all kinds of #strawberry-related treats, and there is plenty left over for a pair for Child 2, who is clamouring for her own pair. I have explained that she needs to wait until next Tuesday, as per my #summersockskal challenge rules, but she doesn’t quite see why. #makessensetome #sockknitting #sockknittersofinstagram #knitting #socks #5weeksleft See you at the meetup on Saturday?

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August 11, 2016 at 07:45PM