Monday, 7 March 2016

Sock making is a thing...

Did you know that? It's definitely a thing.  If you knit socks you can talk sock.  But can you knit the perfectly fitting sock? And do you have a sock knitting party piece?  Well I do now, thanks to a class I attended last weekend

we got notebooks specially for the class (I may have bought Kate's book too)

A master class from THE SOCK EXPERT Kate Atherley at Purlescence.  Purlescence is a wonderful on-line yarn shop with premises in the Berkshire countryside.  It has a fabulous selection of yarns (including Sweet Georgia and Indigodragonfly), loads of needles (ChiaoGoo and Lantern Moon to name a couple), and other knitting notions.  But it also feels like my local yarn shop.  That is not just because it is based only about 30 mins drive from where I live, but also because Sarah and Jonathan the proprietors are so lovely, friendly and helpful.  They don't just sell fabulous stuff though, they also enthusiastically knit with the yarn they sell and try out the needles and notions.  And they have open days and classes...

Taking measurements and swatch knitting

The Morning's session was on how to knit a sock that fits perfectly.  We all have differently proportioned feet - right? In any combination of length and width, height of instep and lumps and bumps. So it is logical that when we have the chance to make our own socks that they should fit properly

When measuring my foot circumference, just above the 'toe cleavage' (a new expression learned on Saturday!) one foot was a whole inch bigger than the other, then I remembered the toe operation I had last November and put it down to that.  On the whole I have long broadish feet with a circumference that is nearly as big as my length - basically I could knit flat squares and seam them up the back, although that would not be very comfortable and this class was all about making a comfortable fitting sock.

After measuring came the maths (quite easy really)

Kate is a mathematician by education but the number crunching we had to do in her class was not complicated and was reproduced in the hand-out (and in Kate's book) It's all there to read off a table once you have your gauge and a few simple foot measurements

gage knitted in the round because socks are knitted in the round

In the afternoon we learned to knit a pair of socks in the manner of Anna Makarovna. Anna Makarovna appears briefly in the epilogue to War and Peace amazing the children with her ability to knit two socks at a time, revealing the second only at the moment she closes the toe.  Google her name and you will find out a little more about the socks and more information in an early discussion  here in Knitty and a pattern here on Ravelry

What the two socks should look like after knitting ribbing separately and sorting the stitches for the stocking stitch leg

Once you get the hang of it it is fairly straight forward but I recommend reading all through the instructions first, or, better still look out for one of Kate's classes next time she is on a teaching tour. In my photograph above I am knitting socks in different colours to help see which stitches are which. Of course that means that while I shall avoid second sock syndrome, something the method is designed to avoid, I have given myself 3rd and 4th sock syndrome!!!

All while we were listening to Kate and knitting our swatches we could gaze at the yarn displayed around the walls of the lovely light work room where the class took place

Sweet Georgia loveliness 

There was lots of good coffee and cake, and lunch, too.  Purlescence is just North of Newbury, not far from the M4 and very easy to find in a little cluster of barns on the edge of a farm in rolling Berkshire countryside.

There will be more courses and an endless supply of yarn, just keep an eye on their website



Wednesday, 2 March 2016

oooh! LOOK! a new book

It's a yarn crawl in a book, brought to you by the people who have organised The Great London Yarn Crawl for the last three years.  And it's all you need to organise your very own London yarn fondling and buying adventure (there are hints for fabric and haberdashery buying and some lovely out of London adventures too)

it's pretty, the photography lovely and at around A5 size it fits in your bag 

Perhaps, like me, you just don't need any more yarn enabling in your life but a book like London Craft Guide provides many sorts of delights. Certainly it is THE go to hand-book for yarn buying but it is much more

It is a thing of beauty.  Flick through the softly coloured pages, admire the photography, take note of good places to pause for coffee and cake, perhaps lunch, in between the yarn yearning

check out the coloured boxes for other nearby attractions including refreshment stops

Fill your dreams with new projects (the book contains nine in all) that justify buying that single skein, bought simply because it is soooo pretty

This gorgeous shawl, designed by the lovely Anniken Allis really does take only one skein of lace weight

Travel in your daydreams around London or further afield, picking out one or two crafty shops as you visit the main sights

Oxford, Cambridge and Brighton are amongst the towns and cities mentioned

You can even satisfy your conscience when you are going cold sheep by yarn related purchases that are not actually yarn, there are fabric shops and places to buy ribbons and buttons too...

The book also takes you slightly off piste in more ways than one as it tempts you to wander off the main drag of Oxford Street and fondle the fabrics in the shops in Brewick Street. Nearly all the shops in this street are crafty related, but although you can find every sort of haberdashery there is no yarn.  

Not the only place described in the book for fabric and haberdashery but much to please in one street

The book is published by my clever friends, Alli and Rachel, who together are Yarn in the City (I may have mentioned them before) and can be bought from their website, Or, if you are going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Rachel will bw there with her gorgeously coloured spinning fibre (Porpoisefur) and will also be selling the book.


PS there are also a couple of sewing projects, this is a sneak peak of the one I designed, a tool roll for all your notions