Book review: Coop Knits Socks Yeah! Volume One

There is no way that I can claim to write an unbiased review of this book! I edited the patterns, am very good friends with Rachel, and the book is stocked in our online shop. Unbiased just isn't possible. That said, I still think I would be jumping around shouting about this book, even if I hadn't worked on it, and didn't know Rachel. You'll just have to trust me on that...

This lovely book was released back in October 2016 when we were deep in editing work and kids adjusting to being back at school. Much to my regret I didn't get around to shouting about it at the time, so I'm making up for it now. Clicking on any of the photos in this post will open larger versions in a lightbox so that you can see all the details of these pretty designs.

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Cross-Country Knitting Volume 3

PUFFINS!

I recently spent a few days up in Scotland with the wonderful Kate Davies. We had such a great time, and it was the perfect antidote to what has been the toughest few months of my life. We went for walks with gorgeous Bruce.

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And worked on a book for next year (I can't wait to tell you about that... but not yet!).

And we went out to Inveruglas with Tom, and he photographed us at An Ceann Mòr in our latest Cross-Country Knitting collaboration - bird inspired accessories...

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Kate has designed the magnificent Murmuration Scarf. It's just stunning.

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And I got carried away by puffins...

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And designed the Fufnip Hat (above) which features puffins around the sides, with a crown inspired by a kaleidoscope of beaks with a central eye.

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And these Fufnip Fingerless Mittens which use the same puffin motif. The silhouettes are created by stranded colour work knitting, and the single full-colour puffin is added by embroidery at the end. 

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We had a great giggle on the photo shoot (I am incapable of being serious at these things!). And Tom did a magnificent job at capturing the joy of the shoot.

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We even found some wild blackberries and blueberries to nibble on. It was a wonderful afternoon.

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After the shoot we headed up to Bridge of Orchy, where we went for a wander, and tried to dodge the midges, before having a slap-up meal at the hotel there. It was amazing. Thank you Kate, Tom, Bruce and Jesus for a wonderful break!

If you fancy some birds of your own, then head over to Ravelry, where you can buy the Cross-Country Knitting Volume 3 eBook containing all three patterns as well as an essay by Kate on the inspiration of birds. The eBook costs £5.95 

 

Or you can purchase a print copy directly from MagCloud for $12.00 by clicking on the link below.

New design: Wee Bruton Hoody

Can you believe how adorable these two are?

© Fergus Ford

© Fergus Ford

Sofia and Toby are wearing the latest designs in the Cross-Country Knitting series, Wee Bluebells and Wee Bruton respectively. You may remember our first Cross-Country Knitting adventure that we published just over a year ago (how the time has flown!), well this time the challenge was to design a child's version of one of our adult sweaters...

Kate and I have different but complementary styles, and as soon as we started talking about the project, I knew it would be my Bruton Hoody that got a fresh look. Kate chose to scale down her popular Bluebells cardigan from the wonderful book, Yokes. She's kept the same pretty bluebell motif, from that point when the flowers start to go over and point skywards, but reworked the sweater to a more child-friendly cardigan. Sofia is wearing the age 2 size, and sizes are available from 1-12, but you should definitely check the actual finished sizes in comparison with your intended recipient - kids vary in size ENORMOUSLY!

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What a cutie!

I had been of a mind to design a child's version of the Bruton Hoody since it was first conceived. As I worked on the original I had ideas about making a mini-version for my nephew James. Well, it's only taken a couple of years, but Wee Bruton is now here! The adult's hoody is worked in Excelana DK, but to keep the proportions of the Bavarian twisted stitch motif, I have scaled the Wee version down to Excelana 4ply. Both yarns are a joy to knit with, and there are some limited edition colours available in the 4ply at the moment, if you're quick!

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When you purchase Cross-Country Knitting Volume 2, you not only get the patterns for Wee Bruton and Wee Bluebells, but also a lovely essay by Rachel Atkinson exploring the significance of childhood handknits. Spoiler alert, there are pictures of Kate, Rachel and me as kids in handknits along with that article! It's a great read. Thanks for joining us on the CCK adventure Rachel!

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Kate and I were overjoyed when Fergus Ford (the brother of the TURBO Felix) agreed not only to photograph but also arranged our fantastic models for us. Fergus has really captured the exact look and feel we were hoping for in these beautiful pictures.

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If you'd like to know more about Kate's design, head over to her blog to read more.

You can buy a copy of Cross-Country Knitting Volume 2 from Ravelry for £5.95 

 Or alternatively, you can buy a print copy from Magcloud for $12.00

Thank you so much to Kate for persuading me to keep my toe in the design world. I love editing, but it's also great to have the adrenaline rush that publishing my own designs brings. I really enjoy working with you! Here's to the next CCK adventure...

New Patterns: Cutcombe and Alcombe Socks & a SALE

Where has this sudden burst of productivity come from, I hear you ask? Well frankly I have no idea, but these patterns have been in the works since this time last year, so it's been brewing for a while. It has just taken me until now to get them laid out and tech edited (thanks again Rachel Atkinson!). Keep reading for details of a pattern sale and random gifts!

The first design is called Cutcombe, and is a top-down sock pattern featuring a clever helical stripe pattern with slip stitch spirals. An afterthought heel is worked, allowing you to keep the spiralling stitch pattern consistent right to the end of the foot.

The two socks are mirrored, and the stitch pattern works best when you use a solid colour paired with a more colourful variegated or self-striping yarn. Both Cutcombe and Alcombe use one ball of Schoppel Wolle Crazy Zauberball combined with a ball of Lang Yarns Jawoll, but you could of course use any combination of suitable sock yarn that you fancy.

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I first used this stitch pattern in a spiralling sock pattern that I designed while working on The Knitter. Since that toe-up pattern is no longer available online, I'm delighted to have given it a whole new lease of life with these two top-down designs. It was another of those ideas which just arrived in my head with very little warning. I had enjoyed discovering helical stripes, thanks to a post on Grumperina's blog, and before I knew it the first pair just emerged from my needles. Sometimes it's hard to explain where design inspiration comes from, isn't it?

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I bought 100g of each yarn which gave me enough to work 2 pairs of Cutcombe socks - reversing the colours for the second pair. The helical stripe technique is explained in detail, but is actually addictively simple to work. It's one of those things that when you read it through looks like it might be tricky, but as soon as you try it you wonder why you hadn't thought of it before!

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The second design is called Alcombe and is also a top-down sock, this time with a standard heel-flap construction and plain stocking stitch foot. The legs feature the same helical stripe pattern with slip-stitch spirals. 

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I know that many sock knitters love socks as they can almost work on auto-pilot once they have established the pattern on the leg, so I thought that it would be handy to have a pattern using a heel-flap, since that is the most popular sock construction out there. The only "downside" to using this is that you lose the consistency in the colour gradation from leg to foot, and can get quite a step in colour at that point. I don't particularly mind this feature in these socks, but if it bothers you, then the Cutcombe Socks might be more your cup of tea!

Many thanks again to Jesse Wild for brilliant photography - all the pictures in the blog post are © Jesse Wild. Thanks also to Kim again for awesome sample knitting and helping me to get to the bottom of the perfect yarn/shade combinations. Both patterns were expertly tech edited by Rachel Atkinson - thank you!

As a celebration of this surge in productivity, I'm running a buy one, get one free promotion on all of my self-published patterns and eBooks. Simply add two patterns to your Ravelry cart, and it will automatically give you the cheaper pattern for free! The discount is applied before you go and pay at PayPal, so don't proceed to PayPal unless you can see the discount has worked! You can see all of the eligible patterns and eBooks in the Jen Arnall-Culliford Designs Ravelry Shop (the Cloudy Apples eBook is not eligible as it was published jointly). This promotion will run until the end of the day on Monday 17th March 2014 (GMT - London). Go and enjoy!

Coronation Knits: The Short Row Files

Today's post follows quite nicely from the theme of Thursday's post: 'things I learnt from technical editing jobs'. I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for one of latest projects I've worked on, Coronation Knits by Susan Crawford. Susan has kindly offered a copy of Coronation Knits as a prize to one lucky reader, so read to the end for details of how to enter the giveaway.

There are going to be lots of posts about the beautiful designs in the collection, and the influences behind them, so today I thought I would take the opportunity to talk a bit about short rows. Bear with me. If you've not yet come across short rows, fear not, I shall walk you through them. Short rows are exactly what the name suggests - rows (or rounds) where you don't knit all of the stitches. If you work half way through a row, turn and work back to the end, and then carry on as normal, you will have slightly more fabric on one side of your piece. You will also have an unsightly hole at the point where you turned. Short-row shaping is actually very simple - it lets you add more fabric in specific areas and thus can create 3-dimensional shape in your knitting. The trick involves closing up the holes that form when you turn.

© Susan Crawford, 2012

There are three designs in the book that feature short-row shaping: Lion and Unicorn (above), Blue Riband Hat and Retro Jubilee Socks (those are all Ravelry links).

The Lion and Unicorn jumper was my first love in the collection - it was the first design we worked on, and the elegance of its shape and design really appeals to me. The pattern is based on a design from the Special Coronation Edition of Stitchcraft magazine (1953), where the jumper is knitted in two pieces (front and back). The shoulders were shaped with a long series of cast-off rows, thus giving the original design a seam along the top of the shoulder and sleeves. When Susan started looking at updating the jumper (and adding all the additional sizes - the original is 1 size only), she decided that it would work really well knitted in one piece from front to back, with the shoulders shaped instead by short-rows, thus eliminating the seam. Susan isn't a designer who gets rid of seams willy-nilly - in fact, she's a great proponent of the benefit of seams to provide structure and good fit in garments - so when Susan gets rid of a seam, you know that there's an excellent reason for it! The smooth slope of the shoulders and sleeves is just so pleasing - a seam would really mess up that line in my humble opinion.

Lion and Unicorn uses probably the most common short-row turn method: wrap and turn (w&t). There are lots of tutorials for working wrap and turn short rows, so here are a couple to get you started:

Working the wrap and turn itself (a video from Knitting Help)
Knitting the wrap with a stitch (another video from Knitting Help)
Working the wrap and turn and knitting them together on following rows (a photo tutorial from Purl Bee)

© Susan Crawford, 2012

The stylish cloche hat, Blue Riband (above) also uses the wrap and turn technique - this time working in the round. Short-row shaping is used here to add extra length to the back portion of the hat (this same method is often used to add height to the back neck for yoked jumpers). The basic premise is exactly the same as above, it's just that you are working in the round, rather than flat. If you are finding that your wraps aren't completely concealed when you work back over them, try knitting the wrap and stitch together through the back loop.

Which brings us nicely to the Retro Jubilee Socks and the new thing I learnt. These socks feature a new-to-me technique for working the short rows in the heel - the slyo or slipped yarnover method. A quick search on Google revealed only a few references to this technique, and no proper tutorials (although I feel sure there must be some out there somewhere - do leave a link in the comments if you find one and I'll add it here), so I thought it might be handy to walk you through it.

© Susan Crawford

The cuff and leg of these socks are knitted in the round as normal, and in essence the heel is a standard short-row heel, it just uses a different method for closing the holes on turning. The following short video takes you through the process.

The next stop on the blog tour is Hélène Magnússon (The Icelandic Knitter) on Monday 18th June 2012. Make sure to stop by!

If you can't wait to get your hands on a copy of Coronation Knits you can purchase the collection in the following ways:

Print Book for £12.99 or eBook for £10 both available from Susan Crawford.

Susan has kindly donated a copy of Coronation Knits for one lucky reader (there are giveaways on many of the stops on this blog tour, so do check them all out - full details below). To enter the competition, please leave a comment on this blog post, and tell me what your favourite knitting technique is and why (comments not including this information will be excluded from the selection of the winner). One reader will then be chosen at random from the eligible comments on this post. The prize can be sent anywhere in the world. Only one entry per person please - duplicate entries will be deleted. Comments will close automatically exactly 1 week from publication of this post. All prizes will be sent out after the blog tour is complete at the end of July 2012.