Friday, 8 November 2013

Apples, apples everywhere.....

I've got apple trees in my garden. They are a blessing and a curse. At this time of year I have more apples (and pears, and plums) than I can cope with, as soon as you clear the fallen fruit, a new carpet has formed.

Photo belongs to Rachel Atkinson

I designed a pair of mittens for the Autumn Twist Collective; Apple Catchers. I love working with Twist, they always, always do such an amazing job of styling and photographing the pieces in the collection and these photographs are the most beautiful anyone has ever taken of my work.

Photo belongs to Jane Heller

I look at this photo and I feel happy.

Photo belongs to Jane Heller

There are 2 versions, a shorter version and a more dramatic elbow length pair, the cable appears on the front and the back of the mitten. The samples are knitted in Shalimar Breathless - a yarn I have been very enthusiastic about in the past and I still love it deeply, it's a dream to knit with and the colours and beautiful. (You can now get it in the UK at Loop)

I called the pattern Apple Catchers. It's a reference to my favourite thing about Autumn; the abundance of fruit (I also like the colder weather which necessitates the wearing of copious amounts of knitwear). One of the great things about apples is the baking they prompt; the pies, cakes and puddings that come out of the oven after a Sunday roast. I asked Rachel Atkinson (you can find her lovely blog at if she would whip me up an apple recipe and she very kindly obliged:

Apple Catcher Pudding

Photo belongs to Rachel Atkinson

Celebrate apple season with this delicious pudding; tangy sharp cooking apples stew in their juices underneath the fluffy Apple Catcher sponge topping making it perfect for lazy autumnal weekends curled up on the sofa with your knitting.

600g cooking apples - British Bramleys are perfect at this time of year
75g light soft brown sugar (demerara works fine too)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Juice of half a lemon
100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
100g caster sugar, plus a little extra for dusting
2 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour

Set your oven to 180°C and place a shelf in the lower third of the oven.

Peel, core and chop the apples into chunks then place in a lightly buttered 2 litre ovenproof dish.

To the apples add the brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and juice, mixing to coat, and set to one side.

In a separate bowl beat the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine followed by the vanilla extract.

Sift in the self-raising flour and gently mix together to a soft consistency.

Spread the cake batter over the top of the apples covering them completely.

Pop in the oven for about 40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes to see how it’s getting on.

Insert a cake tester into the centre to check the apples are cooked; they should retain a little bit of bite but not be too crunchy, and the sponge topping will have bloomed upwards. Sadly it’s likely to collapse on cooling, so quickly sprinkle with caster sugar and eat it whilst still warm dowsed liberally with custard or cream. For a truly disgraceful indulgent treat add a dollop of clotted cream!

Yum yum!

(Apple Catchers are also giant pants, I really have to give credit to Jim for the name of this pattern, on whom I can always rely on to lower the tone - like the time I asked for name suggestions for my sock peacock...)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Among Stones

Among Stones is a collection of 10 designs by Carol Feller, the garments and accessories are all incredibly wearable and beautifully photographed. I love the colour palette Carol has chosen, it ties in so well with the nature and weathered stone at the locations for the photos. One of things I really love about this book is that Carol is modelling many of the pieces, she makes them look so stylish and effortless.

If you'd like to enter the prize draw to win a digital copy of this book (generously donated by Carol), leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite pattern from the book is and I'll pick a winner on 24th October.

The Tourmalite shawl is one of my favourites, it has an interesting construction and the generous size is perfect for the colder weather. Combining a colour changing yarn like Noro with a solid yarn is really interesting, this shawl has larger blocks of solid breaking up the thinner Noro stripes and the little stocking stitch wedges (that remind me of pleats) among the garter stitch.

(Photo belongs to Joseph Feller)

The Liathite Jr is very appealing to me, I've got two boys who are woefully under knitted for and this hoodie would be perfect for both of them (I'll start with the one for the biggest child just in case he does that stupid growing thing while I am knitting and it can be used by the smaller one instead!).

(Photo belongs to Joseph Feller)

I've got to talk about the Pyrite socks, these are sized for children and adults (I don't often make socks for children due to the aforementioned stupid growing thing) and they look great in both solid and variegated yarn. The colours in yarn used for the woman's version make me very happy:

(Photo belongs to Joseph Feller)

You can get the print or digital version (or both!) of the book here.

Ally Pally

I had a fantastic (and exhausting) 4 days at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace last week. I was there with Rowan, signing copies of my new book.

I met so many people, caught up with some friends and marvelled at the fantastic clothes many of the attendees were wearing, knitted, crocheted and sewn - the creativity was extraordinary! I started and finished one sock and made a start on the second of the pair during the show:

(Photo belongs to @rowanyarns)

I'm making myself a pair of Mixalot Socks with the leftover sock yarn from the book, I love stripy socks and these are no exception to the rule, I'm looking forward to wearing them.

I spent a LOT of time on the Rowan stand planning what yarns and colours I am going to use to knit most of the garments in this book. I did a little bit of shopping;

Some buttons from Kate Holliday:

Some chunky alpaca from Toft (who are crocheting in the window of John Lewis on Oxford Street for Wool Week):

And a skein of the very lovely Breathless by Shalimar Yarns from the Loop stand, this is one of my very favourite yarns, I have used it in a few designs and it is ALWAYS a delight to knit with. I chose (after a long deliberation) the Silver Sage colour:

Thanks to everyone who came to see me, see you there next year!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Out and About

I had a great time at both Fibre East and Yarndale this year, thank you to everyone who came to see me at either of those events!

It's always great to see everyone at events, both people who come to shows to shop and chat and the other stallholders, here's me and the lovely Debbie from Skein Queen in our matching dresses:

Yarndale 2013

Next week I'll be at Yorkshire Wool Week, I'm teaching a workshop at Armley Mills Industrial Museum on the 17th October - all the details are here. Then I'll be at baa ram ewe Headingley for a trunk show and book signing from 6pm-8pm it is a free knit night event, all welcome- no need to book (Bob the Sock Peacock will also be in attendance).

On Saturday 19th October I'll be at The Knitting Goddess open studio, this will be great fun - keep an eye on The Knitting Goddess blog and newsletter for more details.

I've got my bags packed for The Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace starting tomorrow, I'll be on the Rowan stand - if you're coming to the show say Hello! (and read this blog post for great tips on how to have a great day)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet Volume II

When I went to TNNA last Summer I met lots of people, one of them was Hunter Hammersen. She's a lovely person with a beautiful design aesthetic and her self-published books are extremely deserving of a space on your bookshelf.

She was nice enough to give me a copy of The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet Volume II to give away, if you'd like to enter the prize draw to win a copy leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite pattern from the book is and I'll pick a winner on 16th October.

The book has 18 patterns, a mix of socks and other accessories, all in beautiful yarns. The patterns are all inspired by vintage prints which are included in the book:

I grew up with some botanical illustrations on the walls, the skill and artistry that went in to these prints is overwhelming, they truly are treasures.

Maybe because it's Autumn and the weather is getting colder, my favorite patterns are these 2 hats:

This is the Delias eucharis hat, that little bit of slouch is perfect and even though this is knitted with a lace patten there is no way this hat isn't going to keep you warm.

I love the photography in this book as much as I love the pattern - the styling and the models are great, I'm a big fan of the happy photo. I think it's a nice juxtaposition to high fashion which quite often seems serious and miserable. As and example of this I show you exhibit A above; the Erasmia pulchella hat. It's an unusual brimless construction, the sample is a beautiful yellow (you know how I feel about yellow) and the model looks like shes having fun!

You can get the book here or the digital version here.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Van Gogh Socks - update 2/8 FINISHED!

At the end of August I went to France, there was a lot of driving involved. We went on the Euro Tunnel and queueing in a line of cars to get on that train was quite surreal, the landscape is bleak and stark, the train is huge and very industrial looking, it really felt like we were leaving the planet (maybe I've been reading too much dystopian teen fiction).

Early in the journey I realised I hadn't brought enough knitting with me. That's not quite right, I had LOADS of knitting with me but not enough plain going-round-and-round on a sock knitting suitable for a person who gets travel sick doing anything else. I realised when I had turned the heel of the second in a pair of socks when we stopped for coffee before we left England (I had started them ages ago and grabbed them on the way out of the door), after those were finished I had the second Van Gogh sock to finish and the heels to put in and that was it.

What have I done to ensure this doesn't happen again? I've put a skein of yarn and a set of needles in the car next to the spare wheel and the first aid kit. I really feel as if this should be some sort of legal requirement to prevent boredom and fidgety hands.

Needless to say the Van Gogh Socks are finished, this is the second of eight pairs and although I'm woefully slow working my way through all 8 shades, I am getting there.

Van Gogh finished socks 2/8

I put afterthought heels in this pair, I used what is call a hat heel - with decreases like the crown of a hat rather than like a toe. I used the same heel in Carlottina and Paignton, I find it fits me better than the other type of afterthought heel.

Van Gogh finished socks 2/8

I have started the next pair, the yarn is doing it's thing, being beautiful:


I'm going for a heel flap and gusset for this pair - that's three pairs and different heels, I'm not sure I can (or want to) carry on that trend. I just want socks that fit really well, I love these yarns and want these socks too much to experiment too much.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

A Knitted Sock Society

My brand new book 'A Knitted Sock Society' has been published!


I'll be back to tell you all about it and introduce you to all the patterns soon. You can order the book here and see all the patterns on Ravelry here.


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Wonderwool Wales

Wonderwool was amazing this year, it's one of my favourite shows - the people are lovely, the venue is clean and spacious which means even if it's busy (and it really was!) it's not uncomfortable, everyone has plenty of space to breathe and take in all the woolly goodness.

I was selling books on the Fyberspates stand. Jeni brought this rather magnificent Sock Peacock for me to display the samples from the book on:


He was made by a company in the US and is now discontinued but she was lovely enough to let him come home with me, if you see me out and about in the future you'll probably see him!

I spent the weekend in front of this wall of wonderful yarn:


And inevitably some came home with me....


This is Twizzle 4ply, it's a single which is dyed in lovely intense colours, mine will become socks but it would also make really lovely shawls.

The stand opposite was Felt Studio UK and on Saturday I saw Danielle braiding something beautiful:


It turned out to be baby camel and silk and feels like clouds so that come to live at my house too.

My final purchase was from Eden Cottage, some lovely BFL sock yarn in Hazel and Steel:


The Willowherb & Saltburn KAL is going strong, lots of lovely yarns have been chosen - I've knitted a cuff so far, I'll be back to show you shortly...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lets talk about Lauren

If you watched the Great British Sewing Bee you'll know all about Lauren, she was a brilliant contestant and she's just opened a haberdashery in Birmingham - Guthrie Ghani. The shop is beautiful, lovely products, huge windows and lots of space, I went on Friday night for drinks and nibbles before the big launch on Saturday (which was a massive success, there were queues to get in)

They have yarn:


And lovely fabric:


Pretty shop fittings:


You can even buy a copy of the Sewing Bee book (and I'm sure Lauren would sign it for you)


Next Thursday 9th May I will be there for my book launch, I'd love for you to come along, see the socks in the book and chat to me! You can buy a book on the night, I'll sign it if you want me to, much fun will be had by all!

I'm also teaching two workshops in the lovely workshop space upstairs:

Beginners Sock Workshop at Guthrie Ghani 14th May

Advanced Sock Workshop at Guthrie Ghani 2nd July

If you want to try knitting socks but you don't know where to start or you'd like to learn a few more sock knitting techniques, these workshops are for you.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


The books are here! Well, except all the ones that were pre-ordered - they've all gone out in the post. There have been arrivals as far away as Canada! (I was surprised by now quickly they got to other countries, I was expecting them to be a bit slower) If you didn't pre-order you can buy the print version here and I'll send it right out!


The eBook has gone live too, you can or visit the Ravelry page here.

We're kicking off the KAL in the Coop Knits Group with Willowherb and Saltburn in May and June - you can knit one or both pairs, there will be prizes and chatting, come and join in! I've chosen this Sheila Sock from Fyberspates in Pink Ginger for a pair of Willowherb, a non-sample pair that I can wear, just the thought of this is very exciting!


I'll be at Wonderwool Wales this weekend, selling and signing books on the Fyberspates stand - come and see me (and all the beautiful yarn). One of the best things there are the fancy scotch eggs, I was looking forward to them so much yesterday I went to the farm shop and bought one for my lunch - think of it as pre-wonderwool training...


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Run, Jim, Run!

My friend Jim is running the London Marathon on Sunday, I'll be cheering him on from the comfort of my sofa with my knitting and a large cup of tea - I know, he's going to be exerting *slightly* more energy than me but only just....

He's running to raise money for Refuge, a charity that do such important work and despite his alter-ego Veuf Tricot (you might know him as the man behind the column in Simply Knitting magazine) 'running away from knitters' he has actually become not only a knitter, but a designer. He has designed a collection of 3 accessories that are being sold in aid of Refuge; the Ready, Steady, Go collection:

Ready Mitts

Steady Hat

Go Scarf

I know Jim wore the mitts (or a very similar pair) when he was training in the winter, the photographer who took the photos for my book also wore some on that very cold day in February, keeping his hands warm but his fingers free to work his camera.

The hat is a rather lovely shade of yellow with a textured double thickness brim to protect ears from cold winds.

The GREEN scarf has a pretty lace chevron pattern, it is knitted with Babylonglegs Semi-Precious which is very special yarn, soft and lustrous - perfect for a special scarf.

Please think about supporting Jim if you can, either by buying the pattern collection or by donating to his Just Giving page.

Like I said, I'll be an armchair supporter this Sunday, but that won't stop me cheering him on AT THE TOP OF MY VOICE!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Coop Knits Socks - The Book!

My first book is currently at the printers so I've opened pre-orders - you can order a copy of the book here, every book will come with a code so you can download the eBook free of charge.

I've entered all the patterns in to the Ravelry database, you can see them all here.

I will post about all the patterns individually, I'll talk about my inspiration and the yarn I used and all that good stuff.

I'll talk about the people who worked on the book with me, the people who made all this possible.


Thursday, 11 April 2013


I was going to title this post 'Don't judge a book by it's cover' or another play on words/cover related pun.

But sometimes you just need to say what it is.

This is it. The Cover. Of my book.

Pre-orders are imminent.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Calla Socks

I've got a pattern in the latest issue of Pom Pom Quarterly - one of my favourite publications.


I love the way this magazine is put together; the design and the styling, I love the yarn they gave me and I love the way the magazine is wrapped up like a little present when it arrives:


These are my socks:


Lace and twisted stitches, petals and clean lines.


The yarn is Shalimar Yarns Breathless, it's merino with some cashmere and silk and it is delightful, really - it's full of delight. I used it in my Coesite hat and cowl and last week some more arrived on my doorstep, I am very happy about this. It gives beautiful stitch definition and it's soft and bouncy, the colour used for these socks is oyster - delicate and subtle (wait until you see the colours of the aforementioned latest arrival, not delicate and subtle but equally beautiful)

The back of the issue is also very pretty:


And there are lots of lovely patterns - look here, I've got a few summer dresses that would look pretty with a Lobelia cardigan over them.

Monday, 8 April 2013

One hat, many heads...

I was going to blog every week day in April. Then I went to Wales for a little holiday and there was no access to internet and no phone signal. So I'm going to blog every week day left in April from now.

My book is about to be published, it is imminent, I'm so excited for everyone to see it. We took some of the photos on a cold day in February in Lyme Regis. I love Lyme Regis, I went there when I was a child and my first holiday with my then-boyfriend-now-husband was there.

I love it there but it was COLD. Really COLD. Several people in the planning stages said something along the lines of 'Wrap up warm', good advice but ever the idiot, when I arrived at Jen's the day before the shoot I had to admit I'd forgotten to bring my coat. Luckily I had brought a wool cardigan my sister gave me that weighs about 3 stone but has amazing insulating properties.

I also had my trusty yellow Puffin Apple hat, my most loved and most worn hat. It started the day on my head, here's me and Jen, both in our Puffin Apples:

I was still wearing it (and my amazing wool cardi) when I had to forcibly remove a blanket from around Jeni who had kindly agreed to model for me:

Part of my job was to try to stop my models from developing hypothermia in the summery dresses I had chosen for the shoot, so I donated my hat to the cause here:

And here:

We had a great day, got some fantastic shots, not long before I can show the world!!