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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Basic 8ply (DK) boot socks - free pattern and tutorial

One of the best things about sock knitting is the sheer number of yarns that there is to choose from - not just in colours but in weights as well.  It means that you can knit a sock for all seasons, and for all occasions!

So far, we've concentrated on 4ply and 6ply yarns to create socks, but sometimes you need something a bit thicker.  8ply yarn (English DK or double knitting, light worsted in the US) is not quite as heavy as Aran but is thicker and warmer than both 4ply and 6ply (as you would guess from the name!) and makes a great boot sock.  It's quick to knit up too, taking less stitches and rounds to create a sock so you've got plenty of yarn to knit even the biggest pair of socks in the 150g balls that the yarn is usually sold in.

You can use any DK yarn for these socks, but do think about the composition before you start - acrylic will make your feet a bit hot and sweaty, and yarns with a nylon content with make them more hard-wearing.  You can use 100% wool yarns, but you will have to be careful when washing your socks in case they felt or shrink in hot water.


I've used my basic 4ply sock pattern for this sock, adjusting the number of stitches to suit the thicker yarn.  You can do this with any yarn and for any size of sock by working out the number of stitches that you need through a tension swatch - there are instructions on how to do that in this tutorial here.  If you need help with matching the stripes in your yarn, you can find it in this tutorial here.

If you're not familiar with knitting socks, you can find my step-by-step Sockalong tutorials here which will guide you through every aspect of knitting a pair of socks from choosing the yarn and needles to turning heels and creating seam-free toes.  Although the Sockalong tutorials are written for 4ply yarn, the process of knitting the sock is the same so you can use this pattern but follow along with the pictures.  If you have knitted socks before but still find that you need more pictures than are provided in this tutorial, the Sockalong pages are the place to go!

Are you ready to get started?


Basic socks in 8 ply (DK) yarn
(you can download a PDF copy of the pattern here)

These socks are constructed as top down socks with a gusset heel.  The heel is knitted in heel stitch which creates a durable, cushioned heel.  This pattern will create a medium-sized sock.  If you want to make the pattern bigger or smaller, simply increase or decrease the number of cast-on stitches by 4, but remember that you will need to make adjustments when you turn the heel.  If you need help working out how many to cast on, have a look at this tutorial from the Sockalong.

Materials

3.5mm needles – I use a 30cm circular needle but DPNs or magic loop will also work
1 x 150g ball of 8ply sock yarn - yarn pictured is Regia Iglu Color in shade 8991 Lappland
1 pair DPNs size 3.5mm (in addition to a circular needle)
stitch markers
wool needle

Note: I cast on using DPNs then change to my circular needle  –  it’s not easy to cast on using the circular as it’s too small.  If you want to use magic loop you will be able to cast on with the larger circular needle.  If you use DPNs, you might find it easiest to cast on and work 2 rows before dividing the stitches across the needles.

Pattern

Cast on 44 stitches using 4.0mm needle  (this is optional - I find that casting on with a larger needle gives a looser edge for getting your foot in and out of the sock but it's fine to cast on with the needle size you intend to use). 

1st row:            K2, P2, repeat to end, turn
2nd row:          K2, P2, repeat to end



Change to 3.5mm needles.  At this point, change to a small circular, magic loop or divide the stitches evenly across three or four DPNs according to preference.  To knit your stitches onto the circular needle, just use it in place of the DPN for the next row.



then join into a circle by bringing the needle with the working yarn around and knitting into the start of the round.  Place a marker over your needle so that you know where your round starts and finishes.  You'll be able to sew up the small gap where the join is later when you sew in your tail end.



Continue in K2, P2 rib for 8 more rounds or until desired length of rib (I knit 10 rounds of rib).

Continue to knit each round until desired length before start of heel (for me, this is 48 rounds in total including the rib).

Heel Flap

If you are knitting with a 30cm circular needles, you will need to change to 3.5mm DPNs to start the heel flap.



At this point, I tuck the ends of my needle down inside my sock so that it doesn't get in the way.  If you are using DPNs or magic loop, you don't need to change needles. 


You are going to create the heel flap from half the number of stitches that you cast on, so if you have cast on more or less than 44 stitches, remember to adjust the number of stitches when you start the heel flap.   
                               
1st  row:          K2, *Sl1, K1* until you have 22 stitches on your needle, turn  (slip the stitch by                                sliding it from one needle to the other without knitting it)
2nd row:         Sl1, P  to end, turn
3rd row:          Sl1, *K1, sl1* to end, turn

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until heel measures approximately 2 inches, finishing on row 3 (for me, that is approx 19 rows) .  If you want to make the heel flap longer, continuing knitting rows 2 and 3 until you reach the desired length, but remember that you will need to pick up more stitches to create the gusset.

The fabric will be different on both sides: a ridged stitch on the right side ...



and a slipped stitch on the wrong side.  This gives the cushioned heel.



Turn heel  (You might want to read all of this section before starting!)

*For a larger or smaller sock, you will need to alter the number of purl stitches in the first row of the heel (marked in bold below), increasing by 1 stitch for each block of 4 stitches extra that you cast on, or decreasing by 1 stitch for each block of 4 stitches less than 44 stitches.  For example, if you cast on 48 stitches, your first row would be Sl1, P13, P2tog, P1, turn*

Row 1:            Sl1, P12, P2tog, P1, turn             

This row is your set up row which gets you to the middle of your heel with stitches left on your needle on either side.  You are going to work the stitches in the middle of your needle all the time, bringing one stitch in from either side on every other row to create a V-shaped heel.

Row 2:            Sl1, K5, SSK, K1, turn
Row 3:            Sl1, P6, P2tog, P1, turn
Row 4:            Sl1, K7, SSK, K1, turn

Create the SSK stitch by slipping the first stitch on the left hand needle knitwise onto the right hand needle, then the second stitch on the left hand needle purlwise onto the right hand needle, transfer them both back to the left hand needle and knit them together through the back of the stitches.



You can always tell where you're up to as there will be a gap between the last stitch worked on the previous row and the stitches that are still be included in the heel.


Continue in this way, adding one stitch to each row until all your stitches are worked across your needle - eg, Sl1, P8, P2tog, P1; Sl1, K9, SSK, K1 etc.

This is what the heel looks like on the SSK side (left) 



and the P2tog side (right):



Holding your sock with the outside of the heel flap facing you, knit across the heel stitches if required to bring you to the left hand side of the needle ready to pick up the gusset stitches.  Remember that if you made the heel flap bigger, you will need to pick up more stitches.  When you pick up the stitches, you will notice that you have a line of bigger stitches at each edge of the heel flap.  This is created by the slip stitch at the start of each row and will make it easier to pick up the stitches.  You are going to pick up every large slipped stitch which is the equivalent of 1 stitch for every 2 rows.


To pick up a stitch, you are going to insert your needle into the inside loop of the large stitch (some people prefer to pick up two loops - it's entirely personal preference) and wrap the yarn around the needle as if to knit the stitch ...


then pull the yarn through the loop as if you were knitting an ordinary stitch and there's your new stitch!


Repeat this for each of the slipped stitches plus one extra stitch between the heel flap and the top of the foot stitches which will stop a hole forming there.  This will give you a nice neat line once you have picked up all of your stitches.



If you are using a long circular for magic loop, place a marker over your needle at this point - there's no need to do this if you're using a short circular or DPNs as it will just fall off!  

Knit across the top of the foot stitches - I usually knit back onto my circular needle at this point by bending the ends of the needle around to knit the stitches in a tiny circle ...



place a marker (if you're using short or long circulars), then pick up the stitches up the other side of the heel.  If you're using a short circular, you can either pick up your stitches with your circular needle - your sock will look like this (note that I've stopped to take the picture at the top of the second set of pick up stitches):



or if that seems too fiddly then use a DPN to pick up the stitches (or even knit across the top of your foot stitches) and then join the short circular in again later.  There's no hard and fast rule here, just do what works best for your hands.



As a guide, I picked up 11 stitches on each side but you will pick up as many stitches as you have slipped stitches so it may be different to mine.  

Knit across the top of the heel and then shape the gusset as below.

Shape gusset

Round  1:        K to 3 sts before the marker, K2tog, K1, slip marker, knit to next marker, slip                                   marker, SSK, K to marker.
Round 2:         Slip marker, knit to next next marker, slip marker, knit to 3 sts before marker.
Round 3:         K2tog, K1, slip marker, knit to next marker, slip marker, SSK, K to marker.

Continue in this way, decreasing by two stitches at the gusset on every other row until there are 44 stitches on the needle.  Your gusset line will look like this:



Once you have 44 stitches again, continue to knit each round until you reach approximately 3cm before the desired length ready to start the toes.  For my size 5 feet, this was about 42 rounds.  Don't be afraid to try your sock on before decreasing for the toes!

Toes

At some point whilst decreasing for the toes, if you are using a small circular you will need to change back to DPNs as the number of stitches becomes too small for the circular.   It's up to you when you choose to do that, and how you distribute the stitches across the needles; just keep following the pattern as set below.  Create the toes as follows:

Round 1:          K1, SSK, K16 sts, K2tog, K1, place marker, K1, SSK, K16 sts, K2tog, K1
Round 2:         Knit one round, slipping markers as you come to them
Round 3:         K1, SSK, K to 3 sts before marker, K2tog, K1, slip marker, K1, SSK, K to 
                          3 sts before marker, K2tog, K1

Repeat rounds 2 and 3 until you have 28 stitches left and divide these between two needles so that the front and the back of the socks match.


Graft toes using Kitchener stitch.  If you've used my basic sock pattern, you'll have seen these instructions before but if not, then hopefully this will take some of the confusion of it!  Just take it slowly and graft each toe in one go (don't start and then leave it half-way through or disaster is guaranteed!).  Cut a long length of yarn and thread it onto a wool needle.  I'm giving you right-handed instructions here.

1  Hold the two DPNs with your left hand.  Insert the wool needle purl-wise into the first stitch on the front DPN and pull the yarn through.  Don't take the stitch off the DPN.  




Next, insert the wool needle knit-wise into the first stitch on the back DPN. Don't take the stitch off.



2  Insert the wool needle knit-wise into the first stitch on the front DPN and slip it off.  


Insert the wool needle purl-wise into the second stitch on the front DPN and don't slip it off.



3  Insert the wool needle purl-wise  into the first stitch on the back DPN and slip it off. 



Insert the wool needle knit-wise into the second stitch on the back DPN and don't slip it off.



4  Repeat 2 and 3 until you get to the last two stitches on the DPNs.  You can see how the Kitchener stitch creates a new row of "knitting" so that there is no seam on your toes.



You will already have taken the yarn through the front stitch so after you have taken the yarn through the back stitch, you can slip both stitches off the DPN.  The single yarn thread through the first stitch will be strong enough to hold it and it will sit flatter when you weave the end back into your sock.



When I come to sew the end in, I usually make sure that I catch the last stitch if it's a bit loose and sew it into place so that I don't get the "ears" on the end of my sock.  If you do get those, don't worry about them too much as they will generally disappear once you've worn and washed your socks.


And there's your sock!  Remember to sew in the tail end at the cuff and tighten up any stitches if you need to, make another sock to match and you're good to go.  This pattern is also listed on Ravelry so if you have enjoyed using it then please consider linking to the pattern so that I can see your socks - I always love to see people's socks!




This sock pattern is free and will always remain so, but if you have enjoyed using it and would like to make a donation to future projects, it will be gratefully received!  You can find the donation button on the sidebar on the left hand side.  Thank you! xx






Monday, 18 July 2016

Monthly Musing - July 2016 - Waiting

Traditionally, it has always been the women who have waited.  From the earliest recorded times to the present day, the mothers, wives and sisters have been the ones to stay at home and watch their menfolk leave for battle, on fishing ships, down the pits and to a host of other dangerous jobs, not knowing if they will return.

Nowadays, it’s not just the men who leave family waiting behind, and it’s not always for dangerous reasons that they go.  We wave our loved ones off on holidays, to university, to jobs and homes in other parts of the country because that’s the way our world works now.  Transport connections allow us to zip up and down the motorways and along railways lines in ways that our ancestors could never have imagined.  Internet connections allow us to talk to our families on the other side of the world and our anxieties in waiting for them to return are lessened as we are able to be in touch with them on a daily basis.

Or are they?  Do we ever stop worrying, even if only in the backs of our minds?  My husband jokes about my “inner sheep dog” and my need to know that my flock is safe, wherever they are.  Is it a Mummy thing?  I don’t know the answer to that one but I do know that I am far happier when I know that my family members are all present and correct.

Big daughter is just starting her second week in Peru, so she is half way through her travels.  The time has gone much more quickly than I expected and we have had several messages from her to let us know that she is safe and having a wonderful time.  We know that she loved working on her social project (so much so that there were tears all round when they left) and that this weekend she is trekking high in the Andes.  I am hugely thankful for even the short contact that we have had, knowing that it was much worse in times gone by when no news was good news and a telegram could only bring heartache.

Despite this, there is still a part of me that wonders every day if big daughter is happy and if she is safe.  I don’t think that I would be able to turn that off even if I wanted to.  I think it is something that is inbuilt into all of us to a greater or lesser extent and not just exclusive to mothers, even though historically we have always been the ones left behind.  Our bonds to those we love are stronger than gender roles and society’s expectations.  In two weeks’ time, all being well, we’ll be at the airport to meet big daughter and hear her stories first hand.  It’s something that we’re looking forward to very much, but in the meantime we will do what families have done for centuries; we will count the days and wait.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Yarndale Sock Line 2016

If you've been following the blog since the Sockalong started last year, then you will probably know about the Yarndale Sock Line which was started in time for Yarndale 2015.  If not, then read on to find out about our fabulous charity sock knit!

One of the loveliest sights at Yarndale is the crocheted bunting that is strung up in the entrance hall.  There are quite literally miles of it hanging from the ceiling to welcome visitors to the auction mart and remind people that Yarndale is a festival of creativity.  The Yarndale Sock Line came about after it was suggested that a different type of bunting might be displayed at Yarndale - sock bunting!  Who wouldn't want to see socks hung up at a yarn festival?  (OK, I am biased but I still think that socks on a line are a sight to make you smile!)

However, there was still the problem of what was going to happen to all the bunting once Yarndale was over, and I had the idea of asking people to make pairs of socks to hang up that could then the passed on to people who needed a bit of hand-knitted love in their lives.  The original blog post is here if you'd like to read it, and the list of those who contributed and where their socks went is here.



I still get reminded that I said it would be nice if 30 people joined the Sockalong Facebook group and now our members stand at over 5,000 - I also said it would be nice to get one or two pairs of socks to pass on through the Yarndale Sock Line and we got 75.  I am clearly an expert at under-estimating how many people want to knit socks and how generous those sock knitters are!  You can see all of last year's socks here on our Pinterest board.


I've been asked if we're going to have the Yarndale Sock Line again this year - and the answer is a resounding "YES"!  

Last year's socks went to The Rucksack Project for homeless people, Blue Apple Heroes working with ex-servicemen with PTSD, Claire House children's hospice, The Hope Centre and St Helens Women's Refuge working with homeless and vulnerable adults, the Women Centre in Kirklees who improve the lives of women, St Oswald's care home in Winwick, Leeds Women's Aid who help victims of domestic violence and Wakefield Community Awareness Programme who work with disadvantaged people in Wakefield.  There is a list of the projects and links to their websites here. These centres were suggested by people through the blog and the Facebooks and they were all delighted to receive pairs of socks.  More suggestions are welcome this year!

Would you like to get involved?  It would be lovely if you did!  It's very easy.  This is what we asked for last year and it worked so well, I don't see any reason to change it.

1  Knit a pair of socks.  Any size, any pattern, any yarn (although proper sock yarn would be best for anything other than bed socks, please, so that they don't wear out too quickly) - just a pair of socks that someone will be able to wear.  From plain socks to patterned, those of us who are sock knitters know that a kind of magic happens when someone puts on a pair of hand knits and they will be delighted with their socks of any style.  Top down, toe up, two at a time, even crocheted if that's your thing - whatever your preference!

To give you an idea of the range of sizes we got last year, they went from tiny baby socks to size 12 men's socks, with the majority of them being around women's size 5.  

These were the socks I knitted last year (I haven't started this year's pair yet!) and I got two pairs of children's socks from this ball of Superba Circus yarn.


2  Create a gift tag for the socks.  A parcel luggage label is an ideal size, but you can make one of your own if you want to, and if you want to decorate it as well, then feel free.  It needs to be securely attached to your pair of socks and have your name (your first name is fine), the place you live, the size of the socks (in UK size, please) and what the yarn content is (in case anyone has issues with wool).  If there are any particular washing instructions you might want to try to squeeze those on too.



On the back, feel free to write a message to whoever might receive your socks, but don't give any personal information.


3  Attach the socks securely together - I don't want any socks going AWOL at the Auction Mart!  You can either do this by using a safety pin or by threading the string or yarn from your gift tag onto a wool needle and taking it through both socks (I've had to use another pair here to demonstrate as mine aren't ready) ...



bringing the yarn back through to the front of the socks and tying with a secure knot.



4  Post your socks.  Lucy has very kindly allowed me to use her PO Box address so your socks will be heading up to Skipton for me to collect during the summer.  To be sure that I have time to photograph them and get them up on the Pinterest board before Yarndale, I will need them to arrive by 12 September 2015 please!  Here's the address:

Yarndale Sock Line
c/o Attic24
PO Box 97
Skipton
North Yorkshire
BD23 9EN

Alternatively, if you're coming to Yarndale and would like to bring your socks with you, then please do so - I'll make sure I have plenty of spare pegs and hope that the Sock Line won't be too high for me to reach during the weekend!  I'll still make sure that they appear on the Pinterest board, so don't worry that you'll be left out if you bring them on the day.

What to do if you live abroad.  I am well aware that Yarndale is a UK-based festival and that to take part might involve a hefty expense with postage.  So, I thought that instead of sending me your socks from around the world - although you are very welcome to do so if you'd like to - you might prefer to gift your socks locally.  So that you can still join in with the Yarndale Sock Line, follow the steps above and take a picture of your finished socks, complete with the tag so we know who you are, and email it to me at winwickmum@gmail.com.  I'll print out the picture and hang that on the Line along with the pairs of knitted socks so if you can also let me know whereabouts in the world you are and where you will be gifting your socks, I can add that information so we can see socks being gifted all over the world!

So that's it.  There's really not much to it, but I know that the socks we received last year were very much welcomed into their new homes so the effort that is involved in making the socks is more than appreciated.

Do ask if you've got any questions - and thank you if you are getting involved this year.  Your bit of knitted love goes a long way! 


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Woolfest 2016

I hope you're all ready to go because today we're off to Woolfest!  

Woolfest is an annual wool festival held in an auction mart in Cockermouth in Cumbria, and if you think that sounds similar to Yarndale, then you'd be right.  Auction marts lend themselves nicely to festivals and exhibitions like this, and the sheepy smell that's ingrained in the very fabric of the building adds nicely to the atmosphere.

I stayed overnight in Skipton at The Woolly Sheep Inn (I chose it because I loved the name but I would go back because of the comfortable rooms and excellent breakfast) and then met up with Lucy at the Creative Coopers session at Coopers Cafe Bar.

You might ask yourself whether this pair are safe to be let out on their own for a weekend at a yarn festival, but there was a (vaguely) serious side to what we were doing; neither of us had visited Woolfest before and as it is similar to Yarndale then Lucy wanted a good look around at how Woolfest worked and to be a visitor as she doesn't get the chance to do that at Yarndale, and knowing that there would be more sheep there than at Yarndale, I wanted to find out more about British breeds and their potential as sock yarn (the fleeces that is, not the sheep!).


At this point, I should probably warn you that after the detailed descriptions and picture-heavy posts of the last couple of days, this one is a little different.  There are still lots of pictures, but they're mostly of sheep.  I might have got a bit carried away, and I will apologise in advance if I've got the breeds wrong as well - I just saw sheep and, well, got a bit carried away!

Woolfest is about two hours' drive from Skipton so we had plenty of time to chat, plan our trip and watch the scenery change from the rolling hills of Yorkshire to the steeper valleys of the Lake District.  It's another beautiful part of the world, and the hills make a stunning backdrop to the auction mart site.


Once inside, it all feels very familiar and although the layout is different in this auction mart, there is the same setup in that each stall occupies a pen.  


There is yarn, of course.  Lots and lots of yarn!


But I noticed that there was more of a focus on other products as well.  Herdwick yarn is a bit scratchy for knitting garments with and I thought it was just used for stuffing mattresses which always seemed like a bit of a waste of that lovely grey fleece.  However, now I know that it is perfect for making rather smart bags ...


and carpets - although you'd never know from this picture as I just spotted the felted sheep and that was me done.  I'm such a sucker for a Herdwick sheep, felted or otherwise!




There was a lot of felting at Woolfest.  It's not something that I've ever tried, although I do have a Herdy felting kit (surprise!) in the cupboard that I've never opened.  There's something about that super-sharp needle that worries me, and also the fact that I could spend hours and hours stabbing the fleece for it to end up looking like ... stabbed fleece.

One of the stands I really loved was Jenny Barnett's.  She exhibits at Yarndale as well, and I've admired her little animals there too.  She has a sign on her stand that reads "you can make these" and whilst I am sure that she is right, I also know that my efforts would not look like these!


I think it's the expressions on the faces that do it for me, they really bring the little animals to life.


And I LOVE unicorns!


Then we turned a corner and spotted the sheep pens.  This is where I lost the plot a bit and I'm quite sure Lucy rolled her eyes at me more than once at this point, so feel free to scroll on down if you're suffering from sheep overload! 

This is Terry the ram.  He's an Exmoor Horn ram and obviously knows he's very photogenic!


I think these sheep may be Manx Loaghton and I spotted these because one of the yarns that I could have chosen for big daughter's Peru socks were made from this wool.


Herdwicks.  I took - ahem - rather a lot of pictures of these Herdy sheep and lambs but I've restricted myself to just showing you three here.  I don't want to be responsible for you falling asleep in the middle of reading my post!




I can't remember what breed this sheep is but he (or she) is rather handsome!


This is a Teeswater sheep.  The long fleece is similar to that of a Wensleydale sheep which is used in no-nylon sock yarns.  The fleece looks like dreadlocks, doesn't it?  I wouldn't fancy having to comb that out every morning!


Aha!  I remember this one!  This is a Hebridean sheep and the breed that big daughter's Peru socks are made from.  Isn't the fleece dark?  It's because it's mixed with mohair in the yarn that I used that it was able to be dyed a different colour.  Big daughter left wearing a pair of her socks - she's been in touch to tell us that she arrived safely but I didn't dare ask about them straight away in case she thought I was more concerned about the socks than her!


My only alpaca photo.  It was sporting a rather fetching Beatles haircut and is obviously doing a bit of twisting and shouting instead of posing nicely for a photo.  I think it looks a bit like an ice cream, or possibly candy floss J.


Finally (you'll be pleased to know), a Wensleydale sheep.  You can see the shine on the fleece from here, and there are more of those dreadlocks that I wouldn't fancy swapping my short hair for.  I was pleased to see this variety here because I wanted to buy some Wensleydale yarn and I like to see what the sheep looks like that the yarn has come from.


These are the yarns that I bought.  I was relatively restrained, I thought, and each of the yarns has a specific project in mind so I didn't feel that I was splurging without a purpose (although it would have been sooo easy to do that!).  None of them contain nylon as I want to know how they stand up to wear compared to a commercial sock yarn which does have nylon in it.  I'm not planning to stop knitting with commercially available sock yarns, but I do think that it's fascinating that we have yarns produced by our own British sheep that will work just as well if only we know what they are. I'm still learning, but you can be sure that I'll be sharing with you what I discover as I go along (whether you like it or not! ;) )

These are the yarns with the Wensleydale wool in them.  Firstly, another skein from Blacker Yarns. This is Tamar, their newest yarn, which contains Teesdale, Wensleydale and Leicester Longwool as well as Cornish mule which helps to give the yarn some bounce.  Teeswater and Wensleydale don't felt easily and have a natural shine to them which is obvious even when the yarn has been dyed, and indeed this yarn is called "lustre blend".  Tamar was one of the yarns that I considered for big daughter's socks but in the end I went for the Hebridean Mohair as I was sold on the anti-bacterial qualities!  Tamar comes in more colours than the Hebridean Mohair, simply because the original wool is not as dark as that from the Hebridean sheep.  I made a conscious decision not to buy any purple yarn as although I don't believe it's ever possible to have too much purple yarn, there are other colours in the world which need to be seen as well!  This lovely deep pink colour is called Kensey.


Next up, this gorgeous turquoise yarn from Whistlebare in Northumberland.  It's called Cuthbert's Sock, named after the nearby St Cuthbert's Way and each of the colours is named after a landmark along the way.  This one is called Kirk Yelthom.  Whistlebare's sock yarns are made using Wensleydale wool and mohair from their own flocks - there's 70% mohair in this which makes it super-strong (mohair is a natural alternative to nylon) but I want to know what it's like to wear it. Those of us who are old enough to remember the 1980s have probably all got memories of mohair jumpers that we'd rather not reincarnate - but I have to say that the sample sock they had knitted up didn't feel scratchy at all and I'm looking forward to trying this out.  The label made me smile with this yarn - it reads "lots of smooth shinyness. NO pong!".


Aren't the colours of these next yarns fabulous?  They're like sea glass.  These are mini skeins (20g each) from The Little Grey Sheep in Gotland and Stein wool.  Gotland sheep originated in Sweden but live very happily here in the UK.  Their fleece has a durability and shine to it that led to it being used to make the Elven cloaks for the Lord of the Rings films*, and blending with the Stein wool makes it less likely to felt and also makes it stronger. 

Emma, who owns The Little Grey Sheep farm, has worked hard to breed sheep as part of a conservation project and although at first I wasn't sure that how this yarn would work as socks, the more I spoke to her, the more I wanted to give it a go.  We have so many yarns, patterns and colourways to choose from as sock knitters that we're already very spoilt, but being able to choose from particular breeds as well just puts the icing on the cake for me.  I have a very particular project in mind for these mini skeins and although I'm not quite sure when I'll be able to get round to it (yes, yes, DK sock tutorial next, I promise!), the idea is bubbling away and I'm looking forward to getting started.  I'm sure the family won't mind if I stop cooking, cleaning, ironing and gardening for a bit to knit socks instead! J


Emma was kind enough to give me these two mini skeins as well.  These are pure Gotland skeins, and they feel slightly softer and finer although they are 4ply the same as the others.  I'm not sure I would want to try socks with these skeins, but I will definitely find something lovely to do with them! 


Lucy and I had a lovely time looking around all the stalls and bumping into a few friends; the festival did have a lovely community feel about it and seeing people that we knew just consolidated that feeling.  We both had broad grins on our faces when we left and you could hear the cogs whirring as ideas started forming in both of our minds.  It's good for the soul to spend time doing something that you love, and to be able to share that with like-minded people is even better.  We are very blessed to be able to do that.

But never mind Woolfest, it's been a bit of a Winwick Mum-fest this week as I've been catching up with my blog posts.  One more to go this weekend to tell you all about the Yarndale Sock Line for 2016 and then you (and I) can have a breather for a few days.  Thanks for sticking with me, it's been great to have your company!

See you tomorrow!


* source: The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robinson & Carol Ekarius, Storey Publishing, 2009