Sockupied, Spring 2015: A Review

It’s been awhile since my last blog. I’ve been working on lots of interesting, but secret, things which I’m planning for autumn, but I know that’s ages away for you!

Today I’d like to talk about the latest issue of Sockupied (Spring 2015).

Sockupied is a smaller-scale magazine dedicated solely to the joy of socks. I was lucky enough to get a review copy, which I’ve been having fun browsing through.

I love teaching socks myself – and I’ve got a few sock workshops coming up if you want to learn. I think they’re one of those projects that makes a knitter feel accomplished. The heel is a little bit of magic, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. They’re a great travel project, well-suited to immortalise that amazing wool you got at the yarn festival last year, and perfect for the warmer spring/summer period (no big jumper sitting on your knee while you knit and sweat).

The Spring issue of Sockupied represents a first for them – their first issue which is PDF only.

I have to say I really like this. While sometimes it’s nice to have a hard copy, I almost always prefer a PDF, as long as it’s still cleverly designed and laid out, which Sockupied is. I prefer PDF for lots of little reasons: you can download it again and again, save it where you want, use it on your laptop/tablet/phone (or all 3!), and you can annotate or print as much as you want. (If you’re a fan of PDFs though, do respect designer’s copyright by not forwarding and sharing the document with others.)

The Spring Sockupied collection features a ‘sinuous’ theme

with patterns morphing and changing in waves between the toe and the leg of the sock. There’s an a nearly equal division of toe-up and top-down socks. So, whichever direction you prefer to knit, there’s a sock for you. Or use this as an opportunity to try something less familiar and learn some new techniques in the process. To take advantage of most of these sock designs, you’ll definitely need to be able to read a knitting chart. These are good charts to start with – a clear, visual pattern and simple symbols.

Top tip:

  • If working from a printed chart, use a post-it not under the line you’re working on to help you read across the line.
  • On your tablet or phone, I can’t recommend the Good Reader app enough – it’s let’s you annotate the pattern and add coloured lines to your charts to mark your spot.
  • You can get some tips and tricks on chart reading here.

This issue features sock designs by the irrespressible Rachel Coopey, the inimitable Kate Atherley and more.

Laith (Rachel Coopey) features a travelling stitch pattern which jumps across socks  – try it out to see how it’s done. I’ve always found Rachel’s patterns to be very well-written, with clear instructions, so it’s easy to know where you are. And she has a penchant for charts (which I happen to love).


Washington State Knee Highs (Kate Atherley) are a great first knee sock pattern. Knit in a thicker wool, these will go faster – and there’s just a little cable to keep things mildly distracting. Do check out the final feature article on how to simply calculate your very own custom-fit knee sock. Not an easy thing and yet, Kate makes it seem effortless by explaining all the niceties of sock fitting (i.e. how to make sure they stay up!). No complex maths (promise).


Butterfly Socks (Jennifer Raymond) take an entirely different approach to sock construction with a sideways knitted leg – how fun! If you’ve knit loads of socks before and are feeling like you’ve knit your last – try these for something entertaining. Don’t these look great with sunflowers?


Mill End Socks (M Nance) start off with a plain foot for easy knitting, then the swirling patterns take over and carry you across the sock, creating motion underneath your needles.


Chain Socks (Mona Drager) use a slipped-stitch pattern with occasional cables to make them look absolutely fabulous in all sorts of yarns, including that incredible hand-dyed yarn that you haven’t knit anything with yet because of all the pooling. You know the one. (Check out the projects for these on Ravelry to get an idea of how it works with different yarns.)


Want to explore more? You can see all the designs in more detail on Ravelry.

Already inspired? Get Sockupied through the Interweave Store here.

Taking the Nod and Twist Collective started the idea of a designer insight page – where they ask designers random biographical facts and preferences. I love these sections as they give us insight into how designers think. Sockupied has asked Rachel a few questions for a bit of fun.

I was taken with the question of how to spot a particular designer’s pattern. Without being too presumptuous, here are my answers too:

PetitchoufleurKnits spotting:


New year, New socks? A new treat for your toes.

January always makes me want new beginnings and challenges. How about you?

It is time for haircuts, deep cleaning, and new projects. I’ve already re-organised the stash. The bathroom is all sparkly clean. Now, you’ll find me haunting wool stores, looking for the perfect patterns (or making my own if they don’t exist yet), sketching, swatching, and casting on lots of new, exciting projects. What inspires this?

In January, everything slows down after the Christmas rush of baking, family, and finishing those lovely, gifty knits –  the creative energy starts flowing. Most often I have some time off work, which gives my mind that breathing space to relax properly.  I know I’m finally fully relaxed when I start to think up new project ideas. (This comes just after the moment of complete boredom when you wonder what you used to do with your time before you worked!)

For me, part of this creativity is learning new things and finding new ways to do the same old stuff. Knitting is where I play with this – trying out new skills and challenges. This year I intend to tackle brioche knitting, which I’ve not done before. This is also when the design bug strikes!

Amber Waves Socks

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The Amber Waves sock design was born about this time last year, filling that January creativity gap – I hope they inspire you as much as they did me.

They started with this beautiful, lush wool from the Knitting Goddess, a present from my husband.

Its perfect, golden sunshine colour acts as an antidote to the dull days of winter. The luxe fibre content does it’s part too, chasing away cold toes – alpaca, silk, cashmere, and yum. This wool is a complete dream to knit and wear. It’s soft and fluffy with a slight halo. And alpaca has insulating properties, just sayin’. The longer you wear them, the warmer you get.

I dove into my different stitch dictionaries looking for something as special as the yarn. When I surfaced, I had found this lovely overall Waves cable pattern and that Double Hearts twisted stitches cable pattern. Both cable patterns have a 16-row vertical repeat, which means they line up and it doesn’t take too long to work a full repeat.

tip toe

Cables on socks, especially small 2 stitch cables, can be particularly annoying to work, as adding a cable needle to the mix can sometimes cause needle management issues. If you’ve not tried it before, why not use these socks as an excuse to try cabling without a cable needle? The pattern includes written instructions for working twisted st cables with a cable needle.

I’ll be publishing a tutorial on my blog shortly on how to work them without a cable needle – for now, check out Ysolda’s blog on it here:

I love how you can’t tell where the Twisted Hearts pattern ends or begins, like a Celtic cable, but quite delicate. The cabled heart shapes, while potentially cheesy, lend the socks a significance – the hearts are subtle. Someone you love could wear the socks without quite realising just how much love you’ve put in them, while being cosily enveloped in it.

Amber cover

I wanted a completely seamless knit, so I went for a toe-up construction, with an Afterthought Heel. The pattern has a link to a tutorial for Judy’s Magic Cast-on to get you started casting on, if you’ve not done it before. More importantly, there is a full tutorial of the Afterthought Heel process with written and pictorial instructions for each step. I promise it’s simpler than you think – you may never go back.

I hope this sock satisfies all your own desires to do new things in January and that the tutorials help you get there. Happy knitting!


Get 25% with the code  AMBER25  from 12th – 26th January.

(If you’d like to receive updates and subscriber-only offers from me, sign up for my newsletter here: Soon, I’m planning to stop blogging new patterns and just announce via my newsletter. Blogs will be for new tutorials mostly.)

My First Sweater workshop

I’m excited to announce a new workshop for knitters who’ve never knitted a sweater before – or who want a walk-through all of the steps before having a go at a full-size one.

It’s called My First Sweater and is an introduction to sweater knitting for those who are a bit anxious about making the jump.

Having worked in a wool shop for several years, I understand how big this leap can feel. A sweater is an investment of time and money, and you want it to come out right.

Most knitters I meet want just a bit of reassurance that they can do this project. I am familiar with the fears –

  • what if, once it’s done, I don’t like it or the style doesn’t suit me?
  • or, what if it doesn’t fit me?
  • And the ‘in the midst of knitting’ frustrations – what does this instruction mean? how do you join those seams? why don’t I have the right number of sts (and can I fix it)?
  • It can be intimidating to look at 4-10 pages of instructions and not be quite sure where to begin.

For many people, sweaters are the knitter’s holy grail – that which makes them ‘real’ knitters.

I’m here to let you in on a little secret…jumpers aren’t actually that hard. They may take time and there may be funny instructions to understand, but once you understand the basic underlying structure of what you’re making, many things will become clear. Also, most sweaters have sections of stocking stitch in-between the more complicated ‘thinking’ parts – lots of time for your mind to rest – great for travel or TV knitting even. If you take it one step at a time and don’t get ahead of yourself, you will make progress and it will work.

In the round

My First Jumper Workshop

The My First Jumper workshop is designed to help knitters confidently tackle their first jumper. Whether you’re an advanced ‘accessories’ knitters, never having wanted to tackle larger projects, or if it’s just ‘time’ to take your first foray into the world of sweater, this full-day workshop will take you through all the steps so you’ll know what to expect.

One of my personal workshop pet peeves is when you make a ‘simple’ version of something, which is actually so simple it doesn’t cover any of the trickier things you wanted to learn in the first place. So, we’re not taking the easy way out here – which means you’ll really go away with all the skills you need to make a jumper.

We’ll cover the ins and outs of:

  • picking a size, based on some simple measurements and design fit/style
  • think a little about what styles might suit you
  • swatching – or how to check something’s going to fit
  • knit an actual jumper (mini) – either in the round or flat, depending on how your first sweater pattern is worked – including waist/bust shaping
  • translating increase and decrease directions from different designers, plus a little look at mapping different sets of increases or decreases together
  • talking about different sweater styles, so you become familiar with new terms and can make sense of sweater descriptions – for example, raglan v set-in sleeves, tailored v relaxed fit

To make the most of the workshop, it’s great to come with a sweater in mind that you’d like to make. You’ll also need to bring a stocking stitch swatch in DK yarn, so we can practice counting sts and rows.

knit flat

Coming to a Shop near you: Where can I book on?

I’ll be teaching the first round of these workshops in the upcoming months.

Links below either take you to online booking (if available) or to shop details so you can get in touch to book:

Saturday 8th November @ Ramshambles, York
Saturday 22nd November @ Baa Ram Ewe, Harrogate

Sat 24th January @ Baa Ram Ewe (Headingley) – would make a great Christmas present methinks…

What next?

Of course, there’s always more to learn when it comes to knitting and fitting garments. I can fully recommend the Knit to Flatter book, as well as Little Red in the City.

Adjusting and fitting garments to you can seem a complicated process, but the benefits in terms of fit and wearability are worth it – and it does get easier with time. If you’ve knit sweaters before and haven’t been happy with the fit, check out these books.

For a more hand’s on approach, check out my Sweater workshop which talks about ways to modify garments. Ideal for knitters who’ve tried sweaters in the past and not been happy with the results.

You go away with a full set of body measurements and notes on when and how to make adjustments. In the workshop, we practice on your sweater of choice and you get individualised help measuring swatches, picking sizes, sussing out adjustments you might want to make and … a follow-on 1:1 session with me in a coffee shop or via Skype or email about a month after the workshop.

You can book these workshops here:

Saturday 15th November @ Baa Ram Ewe, Headingley

Saturday 28th February @ Baa Ram Ewe, Harrogate (not advertised yet – but you can put it in your diary)

Saturday 7th March @ Wool N Stuff, Wakefield


Yarndale: a great weekend!

So, I was at Yarndale two weekend’s ago, along with lots of other knitters, crocheters and fibre enthusiasts. I had a fabulous time – and I hope you did too!

(If you didn’t go and are close by, best get booking your tickets for next year…advance tickets is definitely the way to go.)

It was great to see how the festival has grown this year – I know the organisers worked hard to make this year even better than last year.

There was lots of lovely yarn-related decoration around – on stalls, woven into the walls and hanging everywhere, including on the Yarndale bus. Let me tell you, that was a lot of hours of work that those knitters and crocheters put in, and it made everything feel festive. You can see some of the crocheted mandalas here – I love these.


I was lucky enough to go both days this year. I went with some friends for a girl’s day out on the Saturday. It was also great to meet up with a few friends I hadn’t seen in awhile too. I still know a few stall-holders from my days working at the lovely Baa Ram Ewe shop and it was lovely to catch up a bit.

First order of business was to drop off my newest jumper, Victoria, to the Wensleydale Sheepshop stand for display. They were kind enough to back my idea with some of their lovely yarn – such a dream to knit and becomes like silk once it’s washed. The jumper really suits their yarn.

Armpit healed

Then, we had a lovely wander and I scored some awesome silk yarn at the Fyberspates stand where they were selling down all their hand-dyed, as they’re changing over to just commercial yarns.

Silk 2

Sunday I was back on the first Yarndale bus to go teach workshops.

We had the lovely Wensleydale Boardroom (ala Wensleydale sheep – you know the ones with all the curls?) which was a great space. I brought lots of samples for people to have a look at and taught some lovely people lots of new things. I taught some younger ones how to knit, walked some people through a simple tea cosy which I think a lot of people are going to get for Christmas with some creative embellishments (!), and then helped a group of ladies get to grips with intarsia and a bit of loop stitch – to make nothing other than a Wensleydale sheep.


It was a great day and I enjoyed meeting new people and helping them get to grips with new knitting things – so much so that I completely forgot to take pictures. You’ll just have to take my word for it that they were nice… and here’s an alpaca to take your mind off my lapse.

alpaca cropped


I’ve already got a few other projects on the go, but I couldn’t resist starting to swatch some of the silk – I’m thinking of making Glaize.


Olivia: a partner for Oliver

Have you ever seen the movie Victor Victoria? The amazing Julie Andrews plays a woman playing a man playing a woman – complicated right?

My first ever jumper – a men’s modern-style gansey – is called Victor. After I made it I kept saying ‘Victor Victoria’ to myself – and the concept stuck. There needed to be a women’s version. The Victoria jumper will be coming out at the end of August, but first – Olivia.


Screenshot 2014-08-03 20.33.13

Although I finished it first, Olivia is my second take on the theme of the male/female jumper. The companion jumper, Oliver, was released about a month ago and has been really popular so far.

I’ve published a few tutorials to date to help knitters figure out the pattern. I’ve recently had some kind comments from several knitters to say they really enjoyed knitting the pattern for a few key reasons:

  • I used tables for the pattern numbers so you can fill in the numbers for just your size in the pattern – which causes much less confusion when you’re knitting.
  • Also, although the pattern looks complicated, all of the different textures and cables line up nicely and are therefore easy to memorise!

What great feedback – thanks!


The middle to end of summer is the perfect time to start knitting your perfect autumn jumper or cardy, so it’s ready when the first cold snap comes. (Hopefully still a few months off!)

For Olivia, I’ve based the design on Oliver and added in some feminine details like waist shaping and smaller cables, while keeping the relaxed fit. This gives the jumper a more fitted feel.

As with the Oliver jumper, you can knit it with different options:

  • A pullover or a cardigan version (the cardigan is steeked)
  • A hood or a simple crewneck collar
  • With or without pockets

This pattern really looks stellar in a pure wool, as it gives great stitch definition and really highlights the textures and lets the cables pop. Make it a treat to wear with some lovely, warm natural fibres. The Olivia sample has been knitted in Cascade 220, which is a go-everywhere wool which comes in loads of fabulous colours. The Oliver sample has been knitted in Jarol Aran, which is a local wool for me – Yorkshire-based sheep (North Massam), spun locally, and locally supplied by Woolcraft; I love it’s woolly softness and natural colours.

Oliver and Olivia are both available on Ravelry – or why not get both? They are available together as the Double OO: Oliver and Olivia ebook, with a discount.

DSC_1737 sm

Olivia Front 1

Olivia – £5

Oliver – £5

Buy them together: Double OO eBook – £9

Oliver Tutorial no. 3 – Steeked Pockets

This tutorial is the third in a series of tutorials to help you knit my Oliver and Olivia patterns. To make sure you don’t miss one, you can follow my blog (on the Home Page) and sign up for the newsletter.

This is the third and final tutorial I’ve put together to accompany this pattern. If you have ideas about other techniques you’d like to know more about, do leave a note in the comments. I hope you find them useful.

Oliver & Olivia Tutorial Series

Tutorial no. 1 – Reading your knitting (aka help with Double Moss Stitch)

Tutorial no. 2 – Reading your knitting (aka help with the cables)

Tutorial no. 3 – Steeked Pockets (aka special diagonal pockets)

Cabling without a Cable Needle

You may notice I’ve decided not to include a tutorial in cabling without a cable needle – that’s because I found some great ones online already. If you want further help with cabling without a cable needle, you can find some here or here.

Invented Diagonal Steeked Pocket

For this jumper, I really wanted to add pockets to make it into a super cosy jumper or cardigan. (Also, practical – with places to put your keys, phone, etc.)

I didn’t want a flat opening – either perfectly vertical or perfectly horizontal – because they never feel the right shape for putting your hands into. So, I knew I wanted a diagonal pocket. However, as the jumper is in the round, there was still a potential difficulty. Diagonal pockets can be worked flat fairly simply by joining in two balls of wool and working each side of the pocket separately. In the round though, this would involve joining in new yarn on each round for each section – annoying and ridiculous!

Thus was born the diagonal steeked pocket. This is the first time I’ve seen this pocket style before, but it may be someone else has used it somewhere. Find below some help for steeking and finishing the pocket openings.

Pocket Steeks

  1. Re-inforce your Steek: At both sides of your steek stitches, apply a row of crochet slip sts, using a slightly smaller size crochet hook than normal, or sew two lines of stitching, either by hand or machine. For this jumper, I used a 3.5 mm crochet hook. In the sample, I have hand-sewn one side and used a contrast crochet slip st chain on the other, so you can see the difference. (If you are working in a material other than wool, you need to use a machine-sewn steek as other materials like cotton and silk will pull out of a crochet slip st steek.)

Steek 1

  1. Slip Stitch Crochet Re-inforcement: Join in your wool at the edge, pick one column of stitches and work into every or every other stitch up the edge. The aim is for the slip stitch chain to lie flat against the fabric – working into 2 sts and then working into every other stitch for the next 2 slips, usually works for me. You will only need to do one row of reinforcing.

Steek C1Steek C2Steek C3

  1. Now, you’re ready to cut! Find the middle stitch between your re-inforced steek edges. This is where you will cut. As the pockets have a 5 st steek (odd no. of sts), you will be cutting through the middle of a st, not between sts. Take a deep breath and cut. Once you’ve cut, the edges of your steek will naturally curl inwards to the WS of the jumper. Your reinforcements will keep the steek edges steady and keep your sts from pulling out.

Steek C4

Steek C5










Finishing your Pocket Steeks Edges Pocket Edge Closest to Cables – Outside (RS) Edge

The following instructions are for finishing the steek edge closest to your cables – i.e., the edge that you would see if you had your hand in your pockets. Let’s call it the outside edge.

Picking up Stitches. The first step is to pick up stitches on the outside edge of your steek, using your smaller needles. You will be picking up at the outside edge of your steek re-inforcements so that they are hidden on the inside of the jumper.

PIck up 1

Step 1: Join in yarn and insert hook, from front to back, outside of steek re-inforcements.

PIck up 2

Step 2: Wrap yarn around hook (around from left to right) on the WS of work, then pull through to front. Stitch made.



Pick up 3

All sts from diagonal steek picked up onto crochet hook.

Pick up 4

Picked up sts seen from the side. Steek and reinforcements are pushed/curl to the WS of work naturally.














I-cord Edging. On the steek side closest to the front cable, you will work an applied i-cord, working the i-cord together with your picked up sts as you go, until they’re all worked. Finish off by grafting the i-cord edges to the jumper/cardigan body securely.

Work i-cord as follows:

CO 3 sts onto right needle, slip 1st st onto left needle and k2tog tbl with 1st picked up st. *Slip i-cord sts to left needle, then K2, k2tog tbl, rep from * until all picked up sts have been worked.

Attaching Pocket Lining. These instructions are for finishing the ‘inside’ edge of the pocket. You will have knit your pocket lining separately – either a pouch pocket (like a sweatshirt) or single pockets (for the cardigan version). Stitch the diagonal edge of the pocket lining, with RS facing, to the jumper body using mattress stitch. It should be sewn on outside of the steek re-inforcing stitches so that they are hidden on the inside of the jumper. I used a contrast lining so you can see the line clearly.


On the inside of the jumper, you will still be able to see your cut stitches. If you think they are likely to pull out, you can tuck the cut ends under and lightly stitch them down using some sewing thread. They shouldn’t be too bulky.

Here you can see the pocket lining, attached using mattress stitch to the jumper body, as well as the i-cord edging finishing the Outside edge of the Pocket steek.

Here you can see the pocket lining, attached using mattress stitch to the jumper body, as well as the i-cord edging finishing the Outside edge of the Pocket steek.

Zipper Help

I haven’t put together a tutorial on how to apply your zipper, but I found this entry recently which I think might be helpful. It uses hand-stitching, rather than machine-stitching, but should still be fairly quick to do. If you want some extra tips (and have some blocking wires handy), you could try this method instead.

Olivia in Action

Here are a few shots of the cardigan with pockets to show you them in action – they’re quite cosy and perfectly shaped to allow easy access for your hands!

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Oliver Tutorial no. 2 – Reading Your Knitting – Cables

This tutorial is the second in a series of tutorials to help you knit my Oliver pattern. (They will help with Olivia too, which will be coming soon.) To make sure you don’t miss one, you can follow my blog (on the Home Page) and sign up for the newsletter.

Below you can see the upcoming tutorials you can look forward, each designed to make it faster and easier to make this jumper, and offer some tips and tricks that I didn’t have space for in the pattern. I am a workshop tutor at heart and couldn’t help thinking tutorial as I was knitting this jumper. So many chances to learn some great new skills.

Oliver & Olivia Tutorial Series

Tutorial no. 1 – Reading your knitting (aka help with Double Moss Stitch)

Tutorial no. 2 – Reading your knitting (aka help with the cables)

Tutorial no. 3 – Steeking (aka special diagonal pockets)

This tutorial uses the Staghorn Cable, worked on the front and the back of the Oliver jumper, to show the technique. In these photos, I am working with Cascade 220 yarn – lovely stuff and great for cables. The Central Staghorn cable is cabled every other round, and the upward-facing cables at each side are worked every 4 rounds.

Cables worked every other round (in the round)

I find it difficult sometimes to read my cables, especially when I’m working in the round where you don’t have a WS (wrong side) row to help you identify your place on the chart, so I’ve put together this short picture tutorial to help you with this pattern.

  1. When you have worked a cable on the last round, your sts will pull quite sharply vertical onto the needle. This means you need to work this round in pattern simply knitting the knits and purling the purls. (If you’re not sure how to identify your knits and your purls, please see Tutorial 1.)

Cable 1 Photo

  1. When you have worked a non-cabled round in pattern on the last round, your sts will sit peacefully on your needle with no pulling. This means you will need to cable this round.

Cable 2 Photo

Cables worked every 4th round

The upward-facing cables that frame the central Staghorn Cable are every 4th round. These cables I find have to look almost too open before they’re ready to cable.

Two hints here:

  1. Here is a picture of the 8 st cable that’s worked every 4th round. In this picture it is ready to be cabled. The sts sit evenly spaced on the needle without any pulling or skewing from the previous cable round.

Cable 3

2. Here’s another way to tell if you’re ready to work a cable round.

-Insert a spare needle into the ‘gap’ made by cabling (it creates a tiny hole in the fabric when you cross your sts, usually invisible). Make sure the spare needle is toward the top of the hole. The sts over the needle will look slightly stretched as they were stretched in the cabling process. This is your last cable.

-Now, count the sts above the needle. You do not count the one over the spare needle or the one on your working needles.

-The number of sts between the spare needle and the working needle are the number of rows you have worked since the last cable row.

In the picture below, I am on my 4th round (I have not worked it yet) and I am ready to cable.

Cable 4