Review: The Uncommon Thread – BFL Fingering

I am new to yarn reviews and have previously only reviewed the yarn Spaced Cadet by Countess Ablaze. I very much fell in love with that super chunky yarn and this is a similar love story.

Having previously mostly been buying grey and mustard colour ways and maybe the odd orange, I kept eyeing up this lovely green yarn in my local yarn store. I had knitted with The uncommon thread before and loved it, so I knew the yarn would be good quality but I felt like I couldn’t buy it without a project in mind. Then suddenly a potential match made in heaven occurred to me using the BFL Fingering for the Boxy by Joji.

I cast on the second size and slowly but surely fell in love with this yarn. The colour is great and it is sort of semi solid with very dark spots and almost lime green speckles. The twist gives it structure and supports the lovely stitch definition. It has a certain hardiness to it while being soft enough to wear against the skin.

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The Uncommon Thread is a small indie company in Brighton, England which at its heart wants to be eco friendly and sources from small mills, resulting in some limited edition bases. From their about page:

I aim to source a few unusual, British breed yarns that are often limited editions. These are spun in small mills from small flocks and are very special. But here you’ll also find luxury fibres, such as cashmere, silk, alpaca and merino for your knitting pleasure.

I am very passionate about the environment and aim to minimise the impact I have on it. I simmer the yarns for a long time so that as much dye as possible can bond with the fibres, rather than going down the drain. Our mailing bags are 100% biodegradable and our tags made from 100% post consumer waste – not only that, they are beautiful too! Our British breeds yarns are spun locally, so have few ‘wool miles’ and some are even spun in a mill partly powered by water.

This particular yarn has been a joy to knit. It has body to it while not being stiff and it also has movement while not being flimsy. It really is a great all round yarn and I cannot wait to wear my boxy in the colder weather!

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Crochet Memory Blanket – Lykke review

I have no idea if this is a thing or not, but I started to crochet a sort of memory blanket using leftover yarn and newly spun yarn.

At Edinburgh yarn festival I took a drop spindle class and I have been making a tiny bit of yarn here and there practising and trying to get better. I then really wanted to use the yarn in something but as it is just small bits here and there I wasn’t sure what to do. So I picked up my Lykke crochet set and started to crochet random bits together.

I guess this is sort of using a log cabin approach but using crochet rather than knitting. This gave me a great excuse to finally use my Lykke crochet set.

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The Lykke crochet set

The set comes with 10 crochet hooks in various sizes. The sizes are conveniently edged into the bottom of the hooks, where there is some metal wrapped around the driftwood.

Similarly to the interchangeable needle set, the wood is smooth and soft to the touch with no scratchy parts. The top of the hook is slightly pointed making it really easy to use, in my opinion. I have only ever crochet with metal sets and this pointy tip really made a difference to me. It was a lot less fiddly to get into different sized loops. My crochet skills are a bit rusty and I am using all sorts of weights of yarn so I really could feel the benefit of this top.

Otherwise they handle as you may imagine a stick might.  They are stick shaped after all. I have only used them for about 30 mins to an hour at a time and got a little bit of a mark on my fingers, like a pressure mark but I think due to the smoothness of the wood I had no blisters.

The bag they come in as a metal latch and a small zip pocket for bits and bobs as well as another pocket on the inside. So plenty of room to store notions in.

The other nifty thing, is that you can stand the hooks up. I am not sure why you need to but if you were to change crochet hook a lot this may be useful. Although thinking about it, the sizes are etched into the bottom so maybe what I am saying makes no sense and you would never stand them up? 🙂

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All in all I am enjoying using these and the sharp tip at the tip is great and they grab the yarn well, but I am not sure if they are the most comfortable to use for longer sessions. A handle of sorts shaped a bit more ergonomically may have been nice.

The blanket

The blanket itself is going well. I had to re-remember how to crochet but otherwise I am just making it up as I go, holding some yarns double or triple and joining them in random ways with the aim of a blanket shape. 🙂

You can see some of the evolution below. I started with just handspun yarn and then found my leftover stash and started to experiment. It can be so freeing to just create from your mind without a set plan and I like that I can point at the sections and tell you which completed project the yarn came from.

P.S: I bought these hooks myself and was not endorsed in any way to do a review.

Review: Yarn Space Cadet – Countess Ablaze

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I am not sure if I will regularly post yarn reviews but I fell hard for this one and just wanted to share my infatuation.

Since I started knitting and building a bit of a yarn stash, I have spent a lot at Countess Ablaze. I love her style and yarn bases. Particular favourites are anything using Blue Faced Leicester. Love it.

Her most recent addition to her yarn bases is this Super Bulky, squishy, soft and above all sparkly Merino yarn named Space Cadet. I kind of knew I was sold on it when it was bulkier weight than DK and named something with Space in it! I have a weird soft spot (or you may call it weakness) for heavy weight yarns. Only recently have I found a love for finer yarns but I still crave a big squishy yarn.

 

Not only is this one Super bulky but it also comes in a massive 200g skein!! It is massive! See this comparison shot with a Fingering yarn skein. My yarn winder could not fit a whole skein on it. I had to cake the rest myself without tools.

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What is it like to knit? Well I abandoned all of my current projects (4 in total) to give this a go. I used 8mm and 9mm needles with a simple hat design in mind.

Above you can see the swatch and a medium to large pompom I made and I still have yarn left after completing the hat. It isn’t plied so you can get into some yarn splitting moments but I used my lykke wooden needles and it was pleasant to knit.

Post blocking I got 10 stitches per 4 inches in stockinette knitted flat using 9 mm needles and 10.5 stitches per 4 inches using 8mm needles.

I hence went forth and made a hat. I started a few times getting guidance from some free hat designs from purls soho such as: Snowy Day hat.

You can find the details on my Ravelry page. It is written in a really basic way as it is a basic hat with ribbing and then stockinette and a pom pom!

When you block your garment or swatch you will feel just how soft the yarn is. It kinda feels like it would dissolve, but don’t worry it is quite strong. It does however really bloom and become rather drapey for a super bulky yarn making it perfect for accessories against the skin in my opinion.

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And how have I not mentioned that it sparkles! It has 10% Manufactured Fibers – Stellina in it which is the sparkle! I love it. It may not be for everyone but it made the yarn for me.

Thanks Countess, this base is genius and I can’t wait to see more colours in it. This yarn takes quite a while to properly dry out after blocking so be patient. 🙂

Note: This is my personal opinion, I bought the yarn last week and loved it so much I wanted to share its awesomeness. 

Review: Knitting Project bags

Note: What follows is my own opinions and I have not received any incentive to review any product.

What do you use as a project bag? Perhaps you have made your own or bought one?

I have bought some and also made some. Initially I invested into project bags because I was going to be commuting by train and wanted something sturdy to carry my knitting in that would last.

Make your own: The Stowe bag

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Enter the Stowebag which was made by collaboration between Fringe Association and Grainline Studio. Having previously been an avid seamstress this seemed to be best starting point for me. I had some canvas fabric and sturdy furnishing fabric that really needed a purpose. 🙂

The pattern comes in 2 sizes. I made both in my first go. The small and the large version. The bias tape finishing is clever if a bit fiddly at first but it is good practice, if you need to practice this technique.

The small one was perfect for on the go and fitted small shawls, and all sorts of hats and would be great for socks and the beginnings of a jumper too. It may even fit a cropped jumper.

The large one will fit anything you could dream of bringing. I actually found it to be a bit overwhelming and could never find anything in it. I also think the handles came out a bit big but maybe I made it wrong. I only made the large size once. It is mostly used for storage inside my wardrobe.

I have however made an adjusted version of the small bag again in a waxed cotton and love it. It is lined with a fun linen fabric and has become my go to bag for socks.

You have the option to sew the bag so it stands up or you can leave that part out.

Buy one: Fringe Field Bag

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The fringe field bag is really popular and more interesting and varied versions keep being added. I am not sure if I am an addict but I currently own three; grey, toffee and black.

I was nervous when I bought this bag as I had never seen one in person and was ordering it from the US. We now have a UK local stockist so no more thoughts of “Will the postman lose mine”. But when I ordered it, I was nervous that it may not be as good as it looked but I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It is well made and super sturdy. The canvas fabric softens up with use and the leather handle ages! I hadn’t noticed this until I put my bags all next to each other.

There are generous pockets and the bag closes nicely with drawstrings. It stands up in its own making it a portable Yarn bowl in a sense.

The grey bag has come with me all over the world in the last 2 years of my knitting adventures and you wouldn’t know it. It is still lovely and a joy to use.

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What is your favourite project bag? Have you made your own or bought one?

2017 Round up

I love using Ravelry and storing my makes and tracking my stash using it.

2017 saw a productive and technically ambitious knitting year for me. I stopped commuting half way through the year which meant I tackled some bigger more complex projects rather than more portable mindless ones.

I made 4 pairs of socks (1 as a gift), 3 jumpers, 6 hats (2 were gifts) and 3 scarfs/shawls and one steeked cardigan.

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New techniques and skills I tried:

  1. Tubular cast on
  2. Sewn bind off
  3. Three needle bind off
  4. All the cables
  5. Sock knitting – toe up
  6. Steeking
  7. More colour-work
  8. Seaming a sweater
  9. Making up my own hat pattern
  10. Brioche

New to me yarns I fell in love with:

  1. Shetland DK by Blacker Yarns.
  2. Stone Wool Cormo which I posted about here.
  3. West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply
  4. Blacker Yarns Samite silk blend

All in all it was a great year for me, exploring more challenging techniques and realising you can just do it and if it does not work out, unravel and start again. I think I am definitely a process knitter. It is all about learning for me.

I am hoping to share more of my journey in 2018 and it may include some other learnings, such as business related ones, but we shall see, 🙂 Happy New year!

A love affair – Stone Wool Cormo

I wasn’t meant to be buying yarn, but I just happened to be looking at the website of Loop of London this autumn and they had a yarn I did not know much about on sale.

It ticked a few boxes for me:

  1. It is worsted weight
  2. It is a yarn by a sheep breed I had not knit with before
  3. It is sourced and spun in the same country – USA

Stone Wool Cormo comes in an array of different colours. They tend to offer 3 shades/hues of one colour which I thought was nice and clever. I bought a rough amount for a colour work sweater and was super happy when I saw the yarn in person.
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From their ravelry listing:

We worked with our mill to create a special method of fiber preparation, one that marries woolen and worsted processes. The result is a unique yarn with woolen-spun’s airy loft and worsted’s strength. Springy, lofty, and with a substantial hand, Stone Wool Cormo offers crisp stitch definition and elegant texture in knitting.

And I couldn’t agree more. When I swatched for my colour work sweater I noticed straight away how bouncy the yarn is and how lovely my stitches looked.
Then after blocking a certain softness and almost velvet feel to the touch emerged.

This yarn does not transform like some do after blocking, but it was more enhanced as it gained some flexibility and drape and the softness I mention above.

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My Galloway Coatigan was made using this yarn and is wearing nicely. I have worn it every evening around the house so far and it keeps me cosy and warm and isn’t itchy in the slightest.

I really want to try making something cabled liked mittens or a hat in it next to really take advantage of its lovely stitch definition.

Have you fallen in love with a yarn this year?

KnitPro Aqua Sock Blockers review

I recently finished my 4th pair of socks that I have knitted toe up. These were way too small for me but perfect for  friend. So I needed some new sock blockers. (For myself I followed this tutorial on making my own specific to my own feet.)

I purchased the small size of the KnitPro sock blockers in Aqua. These are made from a sturdy plastic and have cut out sections, which helps air circulate for faster drying. Initially as I unpacked the sock blockers I was a bit disappointed, they were scuffed in places and the cut out section had jagged edges.

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You can see the jagged edges in the cut out sections here

 

It looked like the scuffing was from the jagged edges being sand papered a bit but they are certainly not smooth. I want to try and smooth them a bit more, but I did just go ahead and used them and they worked very well.

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My socks fitted the size perfectly and blocked nicely. The stitches are even and they socks actually look like proper socks now. I will definitely always use sock blockers now. I was lazy before and only used my homemade ones once. oops!

I cannot wait to give these to my friend and see if they fit her properly. 🙂

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Regarding the sock blockers, if you see them in a shop try to see how jagged the cut out bits are and pick the best set. Judging by other online reviews this is quite common, but I am sure a bit of sanding with a very light sandpaper will help too if you are worried.

Mine did not catch on my yarn even though they had jagged edges. I can recommend these, as they do the job, just be careful using them initially.

Note: I bought these sock blockers from my own money and have not received any incentive to review these.

 

 

A sword or a knitting needle? Lykke knitting needle review

I want a sword not a knitting needle -Kalen.” — David Eddings

I have had my set of Lykke interchangeable needles for a year now and have knitted all sorts of things with them. From small circumferences on sleeves and hats, to full on bottom up jumpers and brioche scarfs.

The main thing I have not knitted with them is socks, however. This is due to the fact that the needle set starts at 3.5mm needles and I like to knit my socks on 2.25 to 2.5mm needles.

But fear not, I managed to buy some 2.25mm and 2.5mm needles while I was in Philadelphia in November. As soon as I have used them I will review them too.

Lykke 5″ interchangeable needle set

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I got this 5″ interchangeable set as a present last Christmas and was over the moon. I am always nervous asking for something a bit pricey and then possibly not liking them as I had no chance of seeing the needles in person before getting them. Mine are in the grey denim look case and are stunning to look at. The case they come in is lovely and sturdy and the needles are smooth and kind of shimmer in the light.

From the Lykke website:

Named after the Norwegian word for happiness, LYKKE Crafts combine high quality materials and thoughtful design to produce beautiful, durable, happy-making knitting needles.

A great detail I love and will judge all needles from now on by is that the needle size is etched into the black metal and painted in a contrasting colour. So far I have not noticed any wear and tear on these. On other needles I have used in the past the size was merely painted on and was rubbed off after a few uses.

The cables are lovely soft nylon cables and the set includes several sizes. It comes with 5 different cables; two 24″ cables, two 32″ cables and one 40″ cable. Also included are 4 keys, 2 cord connectors (for joining cables together) and 4 stoppers.

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My parents spoiled me, giving me “Woolens” and these needles for Christmas 2016.

So far I have knitted a cabled cowl and a couple of cabled and textured hats using these from beginning to end. I am now in the middle of using them for a worsted weight cardigan and DK weight brioche scarf as well.

They are very versatile and smooth and suit all different types of yarn. I have had no issues with 100% wool, 30% silk mixes or 100% merino. The tips are not the sharpest or dullest. They are kind of in the middle. I have not attempted any lace work but fear it may be a tad tricky with these needles. My friend who is an avid lace knitter much prefers metal needles for lace anyways. I am yet to try lace knitting so cannot comment more than that. Cables and basic increases and decreases seem to work well though. So not too blunt or overly sharp.

In terms of look and feel and style these are amazing. I am a huge fan. I do love knitting with wooden needles in general and these are a joy to use. However in the UK they are currently still hard to get. Especially if you need other bits and pieces that may be outside of the set, such as an extra pair of needles or a cable. I am not sure there is somewhere currently?

Price wise these are pricey if compared to a knitPro set but comparable to a Chiaogoo interchangeable set and come with a good variety of cable accessories.

So using them over an 11 months period, I have had no issues with the connectors and needles coming undone while knitting in the round. This has been a relief as even with using the turn keys I have had pother sets come undone in the past and then the yarn gets caught in the gap created.

The Lykke needles have been reliable and fun to use. I also haven’t seen much wear and tear even though I mostly use 4mm to 5mm needles on a regular basis. I actually gave away my knitPro wooden needle set to a friend who was learning to knit as I don’t need 2 sets of wooden needles and these will do perfectly til the end of time. 🙂

Knitting: Learning a new stitch: Brioche

Why do you knit?

As I have talked about before it is very much a therapeutic past time for me and I sometimes feel a day is not complete unless I have knitted one row. Be that 10 stitches of 200 stitches.

But I also like trying new things. Be that new yarn or notions and tools or techniques. Since the beginning of my knitting journey I have been fascinated with cables and after my most recent two cabled jumpers Ondawa and Caradon Hill jumper I feel like I am a tad cabled out.

So what is there next to try? Well the shawl along at YAK to the rescue.It was the perfect opportunity to try brioche. I have had the book “Fresh Brioche” by Nancy Marchant for half a year (it was a Christmas present) but have been too intimidated to try it.

In the shawl along you have the attention of a teacher and the support of your fellow students so I felt like giving it a go. It was a rocky ride. Not only was there a standard brioche stitch but there was an Italian cast on and off, increases and decreases, remembering not to count yarn overs and some general what seemed like madness. But after 4 rows you start to see that things aren’t getting twisted but they are working out and growing into a squishy brioche fabric.

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I can highly recommend Nancy’s book. She has pictures and instructions for all stitches you will encounter in the 13 patterns for english and continental style knitting. How awesome is that!?

Other things I learned were:

  1. Youtube is your friend for italian cast on. It is so simple but hard to tell at first.
  2. Don’t use slippery needles. I opted for bamboo chiaogoo ones. When you cannot read the knitting and stitches yet the yarn overs can be really fast to slide off, and the liklihood os so much higher using metal needles.
  3. Make a swatch using thicker yarn. I used DK and light worsted for my first swatch. I am also knitting my first project in DK but I see how fingering weight will be lovely.
  4. You may need to use a bigger needle size than you think. I found that the needle size I was drawn too made a really dense fabric instead of squishy.
  5. Don’t use something like mohair or other sticky yarn when you start as you will rip back and the sticky fibres may make this difficult.
  6. Do be patient. The patterns take a few rows to appear.
  7. Practice the pattern by making a swatch – I was so thankful for this and even restarted my shawl because I made silly mistakes early on.
  8. Rip back a stitch at a time.
  9. Have fun! Bright colours together, contrasts, one colour brioche. So many exciting options.