Sunday, 29 January 2017

Easy cable socks - free pattern and tutorial

Here we are then - all ready to start the first tutorial of 2017!  Please note - this tutorial is picture-heavy!

If you read yesterday's post then you'll know this tutorial is for Easy Cable Socks - and if you haven't read it, you might want to take a quick look at it (the link is here) before we get started as I've tried to answer some of the questions you might have about this sock.

The cables are very simple in construction, just four stitches which twist around each other.  This tutorial shows you how to create the cable with a cable needle; there is a method for cabling without a needle but I'm not going to cover that here - you can always search online if you want to look into it.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Easy Cable socks tutorial ... getting started

I'm nearly ready to share my new sock tutorial with you, but before I do, I want to talk a bit about what my tutorials are going to be about this year.

It's been nearly two years now since the Sockalong started, and the idea behind the Sockalong tutorials was always that they would be a springboard to other patterns.  Not just the patterns that I write from time to time, but the thousands of other wonderful sock patterns that are available online and in print because I firmly believe that once you understand how a sock is constructed and have knitted a basic pair, you can pretty much tackle any pattern that takes your fancy.

It's been fascinating to be able to see first-hand through the Winwick Mum Knit n Natter Facebook group just how well this has worked, and I'm truly delighted to have been involved in setting the wheels in motion for new sock knitters to discover the many talented designers out there and seeing so many patterns being tried and shared.  However, I'm also aware that for many people, taking that step away from the basic sock is a big step out of their comfort zone, and that sometimes a tempting-looking pattern assumes a certain amount of knowledge that some might worry they don't have.  

My plan for this year's tutorials is to try to bridge some of that knowledge gap.  I'm going to assume that you've already knitted a basic sock so you will have some idea of what I'm talking about (and if you haven't, you can find the step-by-step Sockalong tutorials for a basic sock here - it's worth looking at those first).  In these new tutorials, I'm going to look at various knitting styles and see how they can incorporated into socks and I'm going to start at the very beginning with each tutorial - just like the basic sock in the Sockalong - so that you can use the pattern to practice and then go out and explore other patterns that are available.  Once you understand the basics, the world is your oyster - and once you can knit socks, you can do anything!  I'm also stepping out of my comfort zone in that for the first time, I've recorded short videos to go with the tutorials to illustrate points along the way - why shouldn't the learning process be a two-way one?! J   

I'm going to begin this year's tutorials with a cabled sock.  An easy one, one that should help you to see that cables are nothing more than knit stitches placed in a particular order - and you can already do knit stitches so there's nothing new to learn there.  It's all good!  And there's a reason why I've chosen cables to start off with ...

I love cables!  

There's something about the way that otherwise straight up and down stitches move and curl around each other that really speaks to me.  The patterns swirl in ways reminiscent of Celtic and Viking spirals and make me think of myths and legends, remote windswept islands and hardy sheep on craggy rocks.  These pictures are taken from one of my favourite design books - The Celtic Collection by Alice Starmore.  I love looking at the atmospheric photos featuring cables and knotwork and perhaps you can see why.  I find cables the most romantic of all the knitting styles and never grow tired of looking at pictures of the different motifs that it is possible to create with pointy sticks and yarn.

It's easy to see where the inspiration has come from when you look at Celtic design, and there's even a suggestion that an Aran cabled jumper appears in the Book of Kells, which makes the tradition very old indeed.  More recently, cables had a specific purpose as they were incorporated into fishermen's sweaters in styles particular to each community to help them be identified in the case of an accident.


Just like socks, though, many people feel that cables are too hard for them to knit.  Charts are involved, and if not charts then there are written instructions that often seem like another language - but just like socks, it all becomes clear if you take it slowly and start at the beginning. And then who knows, you could be looking at patterns like these in no time ...!

Crooked Cable by Sockbug -

Rectify by Rich Ensor -

For now, though, let's not get ahead of ourselves.  If you've never knitted cables before then hopefully this pair of socks will help to get you on your way.  We're going to go through the basics of the pattern and how the cables work today so that it won't seem too unfamiliar when you look at the main tutorial.

This is what the Easy Cable socks look like ...

There are two cables which run down the front of the sock; they twist in opposite directions so that they look as if they're twisting towards each other, but that's easy to do, I promise!

I've also created a cabled heel - although the good news is that you don't need a cable needle for this - which compliments the cables on the front.

The pattern is based on the basic Sockalong sock, so if you need help with the main structure of the sock then you'll be able to follow along with those tutorials as well.  

Would you like to see what the cables you're going to be knitting look like?  I've gone for a simple twisted rope which is just four stitches wide, and you can see how the cables twist towards each other ...

Getting your knitting to do this isn't as hard as you might think.  Look at this next photo where I've created the cable in two colours and you can see that the stitches are just crossing over each other so that it looks as if they are twisting all the way up ...  (don't worry, you'll just be using one colour for your socks!)

What's happening is that the stitches on the right hand side are being pulled forward to create a twist and the stitches on the left hand side are being pushed backwards.  Let's have a closer look ...

It's like magic!  Straight stitches have become twisted and yarn winds around itself like ivy up a tree.

And how do you create this piece of woolly magic?  It's simple ... you use an extra piece of kit called a cable needle.  This is a short double-pointed needle that is either straight or with a bend in the middle to help to stop your stitches sliding off.  It's best to choose a cable needle that's similar in size to the needle that you're knitting with; some people like to use a smaller size but mine is very slightly bigger as I find it easier to pick up the stitches from a bigger needle.  Don't choose one that's massively bigger or you'll end up stretching your stitches.  If all else fails, you can use a double pointed needle but unless you have short ones, you might find it a bit long and fiddly.

The main tutorial will have the pattern both online and in downloadable PDF form, lots of photos and (have I told you already? J) video clips to help illustrate some of the points that might cause hiccups.  I'll also be showing you how to read a chart which is how many cable patterns are written - it's really not as hard as you think!  I'll be posting all that tomorrow, but in the meantime, I've tried to think of some of the questions that you might want to ask before we get started - if I've missed anything out, do let me know in the comments!

What size are your socks going to be and can I change it?

The sock will be based on my usual size (my UK size 5 foot) but it's easy to adjust that to fit your own foot.  Don't forget that the size of a sock is based on the width of your foot, not the length, so I recommend that you look at the sock stitch calculation in the Sockalong tutorials which will help you work out the size based on the width of your own feet.  Cables do pull the fabric of the knitting inwards because of the way the stitches twist, so you will need to add extra stitches to accommodate this - I've added 4 extra stitches to my sock and that's been just right so if you change the number of stitches, I would start by adding 4 stitches to your new stitch count and take it from there.  Don't forget you can try your sock on during the knitting process to make sure it's comfortable.

Can I use any yarn for these socks?

Yes.  The pattern is written for 4ply yarn so any 4ply should work, although I always recommend a quick tension swatch just to be sure that your size will work out right.  

I've used Northern Yarn Poll Dorset Lambswool 4ply because (as I may have mentioned once or twice!) I'm really interested in how British breed no-nylon sock yarns hold out for socks that get a lot of wear.  One of the things I love about the British breed sock yarns is how they change after being washed and worn and although this yarn wasn't super-soft to knit with, it has started to change and soften already just after being washed to block them.  You can read more about the yarn and where it comes from in this post.  The stitch definition is fabulous; those cables stand out beautifully, and the sock feels as if it's going to be very sturdy and long-lasting.  I'm very happy with the way the socks have turned out and would definitely recommend that you check out the yarn if you are also interested in yarns that are a bit different from regular sock yarn.

(Just as a point of interest, the softer your yarn, the less well your cables will stand out so be aware of this if you want to use something like 100% alpaca or merino.)

I've never used a cable needle before, will I be able to do it?

Yes!  All you're going to be doing is transferring stitches onto your cable needle whilst you're knitting your round - it's not hard and if you've already knitted a sock, you'll be able to master a cable needle with no problems!  

Can I adjust the size of the pattern block for a bigger or smaller sock?

Yes!  It's very easy to do that with this particular pattern.  I'll show you how to do that in the main tutorial. 

Do I have to knit the cabled heel?  It looks hard!

It's not as hard as you might think and there are photos and a video in the main tutorial.  However, if you would prefer to use heel stitch, you can follow the instructions here in the Sockalong tutorial.

I'm not sure about continuing the cables down to the toe decreases.

That's fine - you can knit your toes plain if you'd like to, but it's actually very easy to knit the cables to the end of your toes as you'll see when you get to that point - you'll be a cabling expert by then!

Right then!  I think that's everything for now ... I hope that's been useful as background information and tomorrow I'll share the pattern with you.  Do ask if you've got any questions, but I hope that now you're all ready to grab your yarn and needles (not forgetting your cable needle!) and prepare to cast on!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Paddling furiously

You'll have seen the swans at the park, gliding serenely across the lake and looking as if they're absolutely in control of everything that's going on.  Underneath the water, however, they're paddling furiously - and that's me this week!

On the face of it, everything is business as usual.  Morning walks with the dog through grey mist ...

and (finally!) crunchy frost.  I can't get enough of the sight of frost-covered leaves, every vein delicately outlined.  Winter has found us!  Yesss!

Even the canal was frozen this morning where I walked with the dog ...

The ice looked as if it had lots of leaves frozen into it, or as if it had frozen, thawed into pieces and then re-frozen; I've never seen it look like that before.

This is my one sprout plant.  I planted it a bit late last year to get any sprouts for Christmas Day (there are one or two on the plant now but they still just look like over-sized peas) which could have been a disaster as small daughter has declared that no sprouts are as good as the ones that her Grandad grew and she will only eat sprouts grown from the seeds that he kept in his seed box.  Thankfully, disaster was averted as our local farm shop were selling a tasty variety that just about passed muster, but I'd better make sure I sow the seeds in good time this year!  

The nice thing about frosty mornings is the bright skies that often come with them.  Here's our poor church, still clad in corrugated iron and scaffolding as the last section of the damaged roof is replaced.  It's been such a long job - nearly 5 years now, I think - but the church is due to open later on this year which will be fantastic.

I managed to get to my piano lesson this week too.  I don't think I've told you that I play the piano before - I suppose I imagine that someone of my age that has piano lessons is a bit like a "lady who lunches" and I've never really liked that image!  My excuse is that it keeps my brain active and my hands supple which is important with all the knitting I do, but in reality, I just like to sit and play.  

I don't go every week and I have a flexible arrangement with my teacher so that we fit lessons in around our schedules; we've been doing this for years now and it works very well for us.  What also works very well is that my teacher is completely accepting of my lack of practice during the time I don't see him.  I'm sure I would be a much better player than I am if I did practice, but I always feel terribly guilty about sitting down at the piano at home when there's so much else to be done. Stupid, eh?  Anyway, my lessons have become my playing time and I'm grateful for the opportunity to switch off and concentrate on the music and what my hands are doing.  It's completely different to knitting where, unless I'm working on a complicated pattern, my mind tends to wander whilst my hands are moving; with piano playing I become absolutely absorbed by what I'm doing and there's no room in my head to think about anything else.  Meditation by any other means, I'm sure.

In this week's woolly news, my copy of Wool Tribe has arrived.  It's the magazine of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival containing exclusively-designed patterns, articles and a floor plan of the festival which is very useful if you're going to go.  I spotted it on a few Instagram posts and decided to get a copy; Instagram is wonderful and I have made so many yarny discoveries through the people that I follow - and it costs me a fortune!  Not that I'm really complaining - I could easily spend my money on lots of other things that wouldn't bring me nearly as much pleasure.  The patterns are very nice (there's a lovely pair of socks!) and I'm going to enjoy sitting down to read the articles with a brew later on.  

I've cast on for my Blacker Yarns knitalong using their Hartland Cliffs shawl pattern and I'm loving it so far - this St Kilda laceweight yarn is gorgeous to knit with; soft and light and it copes well with frogging when someone doesn't read the pattern properly in the beginning (oh dear, I hope this isn't going to be a theme of this year!).

Also coming along nicely is my Moorland Blanket which I'm making in Lucy's original granny stripe colours rather than her new moorland colours - I'm using up a pack of the colours rather than buying more (see my previous post about being run over by a bus which actually applies to all the yarn in my stash!) and I've decided to go for a completely random order by just pulling the next colour of the bag without thinking too much about it.  I don't think I'll get any terrible clashes - Lucy doesn't do terrible clashes with her colours - so I'm happy just to see what comes out next. I'm finding it quite easy to do a row here and there and now that I'm using a bigger hook, the blanket is growing at a good pace.

So here we are, all caught up for the week, and I can hear you thinking "well, what's all the paddling about?"  

The paddling is because I gave myself a deadline of the last weekend in January to have my new sock tutorial post ready.  This will be the one with the videos that are prompting the Dark Muttering and have already caused me to max out my phone and computer storage at least once with the out-takes, but it's good news because I'm all set to be ready for the last weekend in January which is next weekend.  Except that you know - and now I know after I've looked at the calendar and squeaked in dismay - that the last weekend in January is this weekend.

Does it really matter if I'm not ready till next weekend - or the weekend after?  Well, not in a life or death sense of it mattering, but if I don't attempt to stick to my self-imposed deadlines than you won't see this tutorial until winter has long gone and I've plans to do more than just this one this year which means I need to get a move on.  I'm going to do my best to have it ready for this weekend ... or maybe early next week which is still the end of January so that counts, right?

I'd better get my flippers on!

Friday, 20 January 2017


Well, here we are in the middle of January already.  We haven't seen much of the sun this week, but we have seen a lot of clouds and drizzly rain.  It's not even particularly cold, either, so I've set off for my walks with the dog wrapped up against the weather and come home carrying my layers instead of wearing them.

We did see a patch of blue sky on Tuesday - just the one - and for a short while everywhere seemed brighter and less drizzly.  Not for long, though.  By the time we had left this wood and were on our way home, the dog and I were wet through again.  Ah well.  

After last week's Moorland Blanket Unravelling, I've had to wait until my new crochet hook arrived before I could make a start on it again.  It arrived yesterday - hooray!  I'm very pleased with it - I mean, who couldn't fail to be delighted by another sparkly unicorn crochet hook, especially one that came with a chocolate heart?  (I needed to take a picture of this because I knew that by the time I came to write about it, the chocolate would have gone.  And it has.  But it was very nice.)

This hook even has a rainbow on it (which actually doesn't feel uncomfortable under your thumb when you use the hook, in case you were wondering) ...

and a seriously cute unicorn.  What's not to like?

Here they are, my duo of unicorns.  I wonder what you call more of them?  A flock?  A sparkle? They certainly are sparkly, I've got glitter all over my hands after getting stuck back into my blanket!  I'm not complaining, I could have done with a bit of sparkly magic dust last night after working three blocks of the colours and then discovering that I'd used the wrong stitches.  Aargh! What is it about this month and projects not doing what they're supposed to do?  I've still not finished my skirt ... 

Progress on these socks, however, is coming along nicely - just as well as I'm planning the tutorial for the end of the month.  I've spent a couple of days this week working on the videos that I'm going to put with the tutorials and I think the thing that has struck me most is just how long it all takes.  I could have knitted another sock in the time that it's taken me to get my words right for each of the sections that I'm videoing - I'll be wanting an Oscar at the very least at the end of all this! J

And because I am the eternal optimist and always like to think that I have more hours in the day to knit than I probably do (or perhaps because I am ever so slightly insane), I'm joining in with the Blacker Yarns Pod Knit-a-long which officially started yesterday.  Blacker Yarns are hosting the Podcast Lounge at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival again this year and they have decided to run a Knit-a-long using their yarns in the run up to the Festival.  I happen to have a few skeins in my stash, and have added another recently as I couldn't resist this one the other week ...

It's hard to tell from the photo (thanks to our current dull weather) but it's a lovely deep purple colour and is another of Blacker Yarns' limited edition yarns which comes from the fleece of these rather handsome sheep ...


They're Border Leicester sheep, one of the oldest British breeds, and this yarn comes from the largest flock in the UK.  Look at those ears!  They look like sheep crossed with rabbits to me! Their fleece is described as similar to Blue Faced Leicester but stronger, so not only is it soft and smooth, but it's ideal for socks.  Ker-ching!  Sold to the lady who can't resist British sock yarn!  (And incidentally, because I know that this is something of an issue these days for some people, the yarn band states that this yarn is from sheep that live to grow old.)

Anyway, because I have realised that I have quite a few skeins of Blacker Yarns yarn that need using up (I'm trying not to keep yarns "for best" because if I get run over by a bus, I don't want my beautiful skeins being thrown out because no one knows what to do with them - it makes sense to knit them whilst I'm still in one piece!) I have not one but two projects in mind.  And no, I haven't discovered the secret of extra hours in the day, but I think that if I keep stuffing my day full of things I need to do, then one day the secret might come to me - a bit like pulling the right book out of a shelf to release the magic door behind the bookcase.  I can live in hope, can't I?  

So here are my choices - firstly, from Verity Castledine's beautiful book, The Sock Drawer, which I bought at Yarndale last year.  Verity is the talent behind Truly Hooked hand-dyed yarns and has written this book of sock patterns which are a good next step from the basic Sockalong sock.  I'm going to choose Arwen from the patterns and I've picked out a skein of Tamar Lustre Blend 4ply which I think will work perfectly.  My second choice is the Hartland Cliffs shawl, a free pattern from Blacker Yarns, which I'm going to knit in the St Kilda Laceweight yarn that I also got from Yarndale.  This was one of those purchases that I really didn't need to make ... until I saw the shawl in real life and then my credit card jumped out of my purse all on it's own.  As it does.  The idea is that you have until the Edinburgh Yarn Festival to complete your makes and then you can take them with you to show off (and get a discount off any yarns you might buy to replenish your stock) ... but of course, there's no reason why you still can't join in even if you're not going to Edinburgh, and you can find all the details of the Knit-a-long here.

My Moorland blanket, tutorial socks and Knit-a-long projects should keep me quiet for a week or so (or possibly longer ...) so I decided to make the most of a gap in the rain showers to look around the garden today.  The snowdrops are coming through already, which of course they should be doing as it is January, but I do worry about these delicate shoots if we have a sudden cold snap. Mind you, we haven't really had much in the way of cold all winter so I think they're probably safe enough. 

Perhaps not these (fool) hardy shoots, though, which have been brave enough to grow in the gap between the steps.  The dog has no respect for any of the vegetation in the garden, whether it's grass or flowers, and will do a handbrake (pawbrake?) turn wherever he feels like.  I don't know how long these snowdrops will last, but it's lovely to see them whilst they're here!

There are also some shoots indoors ... a friend gave me this pretty jug for Christmas which came with some Muscari (grape hyacinth) bulbs.  It hasn't taken any time at all for the shoots to come through and I'm really enjoying seeing them - it makes me realise how long the garden seems to have been drab and brown.  It doesn't take much to brighten you day sometimes, does it?

Have a fabulous weekend.  I hope the sun shines for you and all your projects for the weekend go swimmingly well, whatever they are! 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

A bit of snow

Do you ever have those weeks when you feel like you're getting nowhere fast?  It must have been because it was the first full week back at school, but I had a long list of jobs that I wanted to do and now that we've reached the weekend, I still have a long list of pretty much the same jobs.  How does that work?!

One of this week's jobs was to finish The Skirt.  It's been hanging around for so long now that it qualifies for capital letters when I'm talking about it, and that's not always a good thing!  The pattern told me that I would need a zip and recommended steeking (cutting the knitting) but as I've been using acrylic yarn I thought that would be a mistake.  Instead, I knitted it flat for the length of the zip and then joined into the round; I've had to do a bit of stitch-pulling to get the stitches tighter at the edge but it looks OK.  My zip-insertion skills aren't the best and lots of Dark Muttering was involved - and having tried it on I've discovered that I could get it on and off without needing a zip at all!  Aargh!  I'm also a bit concerned about the length.  The fact that I got the pattern from a 1960s magazine should have given me a clue, but I'm wondering now that whilst the length of it may be fantastic on my 18 year old daughter, it may not be quite so fantastic on someone who last saw 18 thirty years ago ... 

It's easy enough to fix as I can just add rounds to the bottom if I still think it's too short once I've finally decided what to do about the zip and whether to take it out or not, but it was frustrating that what I thought would be an hour or so's job is still sitting waiting to be finished.  Ah well, maybe next week!

Another one of this week's jobs was make a start on the videos to go with the sock tutorial that I'm writing.  After lots of procrastination, I finally made a start ... and another start ... and another start ...  There was more Dark Muttering and more than a few out-takes and this is something else that has gone back onto next week's list of jobs.  I am clearly not going to be one of those people who "just do a quick video tutorial" as there was certainly nothing quick about this! 

Towards the end of the week, though, something happened that I've been waiting for all winter ... it snowed!  At last!  I thought we weren't going to see any snow this winter, and although the amount that we had in Winwick was a bit dismal, I was heading off to Skipton on Friday and I knew that there'd be some there.  Hooray!

The drive to Skipton takes me from Cheshire through Lancashire into Yorkshire and the scenery is beautiful at any time of year, but the sun glinting off the snow on the hills was just fabulous.  I had to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road and not on the snow, but I did stop a couple of times to take pictures ...

and there was still snow on the ground by the time I got to Skipton.  Who knows if we'll get more snow this year (people other parts of the country have had very heavy snowfall and would probably be glad to pass any more of the white stuff over to my part of the world!), but at least I've seen some now so that's me happy J

I've never been able to make it to the Creative Coopers' Friday morning session before because of the length of time it takes me to get to Skipton; I was a bit late but nobody minded and it was lovely to meet a new group of people.  Knit n natter group members are such a sociable bunch! 

I took my Moorland Blanket up to show Lucy, even though I'd only done a couple of rows; I wasn't sure that I was happy with the tension and wanted her opinion.  What was happening was the rows were ridging and this was apparently down to the size of my hook; even though my tension had seemed OK on the tension square using my 4mm hook, it wasn't working out quite right on the actual blanket.  It's very useful (and I very much appreciated) being able to ask the Blanket Guru herself how to fix the problem!

As you'd expect, Lucy had a few spare crochet hooks in different sizes so I was able to try them out and see if a bigger hook was better; a size 4.5mm let the fabric lie flatter and so that's what I've decided to use.  It meant ripping out what I'd already done but better to do that now rather than when I'm half way up the blanket.  Yes, it puts the blanket firmly back on the list, but it's going to be on the list for some time anyway so I'm not upset about it at all.

I've got a new crochet hook on order now.  I was going to order one like Lucy's as it was very comfortable to use, but then I thought it would just see if there was a unicorn one in the right size ... my new hook should arrive next week!

I hope you've had a more productive week than I seem to have had - and here's hoping that next week is a very productive one for us all!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

New Year, new intentions!

Hellooo!  How are you doing on this weekend in January 2017?  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year - it seems like such a long time since I've written a "what I'm up to" post and it's lovely to catch up with you again!

It always takes me longer than I'd like to get back into the swing of things after a holiday.  The decorations are down now and the house looks very bare (and rather dusty); small daughter is back at school and big daughter goes back to university on Monday, and I've spent these last few days feeling as if I'm getting nowhere fast.  Oh don't get me wrong, I'm all fired up and ready to go for the New Year ... it's just the thought of getting going!

The dog is very happy to be back in his usual routine, although I have to say that I'm a bit fed up of seeing the same soggy paths.  Where's the snow?  Or even a bit of frost to give the ground that winter crunch?  It's not even really cold enough to be wearing my hat and mitts, so although I start off with them on, I've been having to take them off and carry them about half way round our walk. I've been having to get my snow fix through Instagram this year and although vicarious snow is better than none at all, just a little bit would be nice!

Now that the New Year is here, my husband has had his annual chuckle at the sight of me trawling through pages of free planner printables in an attempt to get myself under some kind of organised control.  Two years ago, I decided to take a plunge into bullet journaling which lasted all of about six weeks ...

and last year I tried using various printed pages and diaries which again, lasted all of about six weeks, which is why I'm looking at the free printables and not a paid-for planner!  My problem (or so I tell myself) is that none of the pages actually do what I need them to do - I've got so many different things that I need to keep track of: the blog, the family, the socks, the work that I do with my husband's business, the pets, holidays etc etc - that I end up missing something out and then I get cross and stop using the planner altogether.  We do use Google calendar as a family so that we can update in real time where everyone is and what they're doing (and I have had to get used to using that as my husband takes the view that if it's not on the calendar it's not happening, and he can book what he likes (usually work!) into the free space), but no matter how many to-do lists and task lists I set up, I still end up running round like something silly.

Yes, yes, of course it's all down to discipline and actually using the planner pages - my husband likes to point out that writing it down isn't enough and I still need to do whatever it is, but I think he's just asking for a poke in the eye! - and I'm going to try very hard to last for longer than six weeks this year.  And besides, I like to look at all the planner pages and imagine that my life is super-organised and clutter-free.  I've even set up a new Pinterest page with styles that I like which isn't procrastinating at all but even I know that there are limits and I can't begin to look at stickers, doodling or any other form of planner decoration because then I really will never get anything done!

So here's my choice for 2017 (or at least, until the middle of February): simple pages from which I can hopefully use to write down some of the stuff that I need to do every day rather than try to keep it all in my head.  There's no date on the weekly pages either, so I won't feel guilty if I miss some pages out.  You never know.  It might just work this year. I'll keep you posted!

I woke up really early on Saturday morning (why does this happen?  I'm never ready to get out of bed really early during the week!) and decided to get up and make a start on my Moorland Blanket, the new crochetalong using Lucy's brand new pattern.  It's been a long time since I crocheted a blanket - July 2013 in fact - and that was my neat ripple blanket which I originally made to wrap myself up in whilst I'm meditating, but have found myself snuggling under it far more often.  I've been promising myself another crocheted blanket ever since, but have never quite got round to it until now.  Lucy had a sample of her new neat wave blanket at Yarndale and I knew this was going to be the one.  I bought myself a new crochet hook (mine are all ancient metal ones) from Nicola at Fleabubs by Lala at Yarndale.  I'm very pleased with it - I may have mentioned my pink sparkly unicorn hook before ...

and set about making my tension swatch.  I'm using up stash to make this blanket - I have a pack of original Lucy colours which have been sitting in the cupboard for a few years so much as I love the colours that Lucy has chosen for her blanket, I really must use what I have before I buy anything else.  Of course, once it's gone then that leaves me free to buy any blanket packs I might like in the future or possibly - ahem - some more rare breed sock yarn ...   

I was just looking and it fell into my basket.  What could I do?

Getting back into crocheting again this weekend has been lovely, and although I needed a bit of a refresher on one of the stitches (luckily, Lucy has thought of this and written instructions for people like me), it wasn't long before I was happily hooking away.  It was really foggy (foggy! what's that all about?) here in Winwick yesterday and it didn't get light until quite late in the morning.  The family were asleep, even the pets took themselves back to bed after their breakfasts, and I was quite content with my cup of tea and the crackling of the fire for company.

I've decided to go for random stripes so this new blanket will probably end up looking quite similar to my neat ripple blanket, but as I really like those colours anyway it's not a problem.  I suspect that this blanket will end up living on our sofa so that there's an extra one for TV snuggling, and as our sofa is a rather battered brown leather one, some bright yarny colours will be just the thing!

My brother and his wife bought me this which is just right for this project ...

That's a cute fox, isn't it?  It's a Jane Foster large knitting bucket and I've managed to pack all 17 balls of yarn that I have into it so it will be perfect for TV crocheting.  

It's taken me a while to get going because I wanted to make the blanket the same size as my ripple one which is a bit bigger than the size Lucy's given for the single bed, so last night was spent in trying to get the foundation chain right.  At least I'm up and running now!

I have no idea how long it's going to take me make this blanket because I've always got so many things going on (all right, I can hear you shouting "use your planner!") and I have got some Exciting Sock Stuff to be working on too, but it's nice to have got started and it will get finished during the year.

Ooh, did you hear me say "Exciting Sock Stuff"?  I did say that!  I told you last year about the new tutorial socks that I'm making and planner or no planner, I'm doing my best to have the tutorial ready for the end of this month.  It will be the first in a series that I want to do this year which will look at expanding sock knitting skills and taking another step towards discovering all the fabulous patterns that are available.  I absolutely love it when people tell me that the Sockalong tutorials have helped them to get started knitting socks but I've also been told that sometimes people are still a bit reluctant to make the next step into exploring new patterns.  I'm hoping to help put that right!  

Also under the heading of "Exciting Sock Stuff" is something that is very new to me and quite some way out of my comfort zone ... I'm going to make some videos to go with the tutorial as I know that there are some people who like to watch rather than just see pictures.  Ulp!  It does feel very scary but just like any new skill, we all have to start somewhere and if I don't just launch in and do them, I'll never get any better.  And if I've told you that I'm going to do them, then I just have to get on with it, don't I?!

I think we're pretty much caught up on everything for now ... I have finished knitting my Fair Isle skirt again after the lumpy bumpy disaster that it was; it's looking much better this time and early indications are that it's going to fit much better too.  I've woven all the ends in (and there were so many ends!) and just need to put a zip in and then it'll be done.

And just to finish off on the subject of knitting - and socks - I'd like to thank everyone who's added their pair of basic Sockalong socks to the Ravelry project page - there are over 1,100 projects on there now which is quite amazing!  I always love to see the socks that are linked, and you can find all my free patterns on Ravelry as well as on the Free Patterns and Printables page here on the blog (it's in the tabs at the top of the page).  There's also the more practical application too in that the more people who are able to find the Sockalong tutorials, the more people can start their own sock adventures - and there's always room for more sock knitters in the world! 

Have a lovely weekend everybody - and may it be calm and organised!  What are your own planner intentions this year?  I'd love to know as it might help me stick with mine for longer than six weeks! J

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