All Change

The Spring issue of Sockupied is out! I have been waiting for this one for what seems like AGES because in it, I am the featured designer! Woot!! I was interviewed way back in September last year (seems like FOREVER ago). I also have a sock pattern in it using the same stranding technique as De Stijl, this one is called Deuce after my darling pug.  I’m mightly excited and pleased about it but as there have been some major changes around Socktopus HQ in the last couple months  some of the information is out of date.

First – there is no Knit Love Club for 2013.  More on this below.

Second – Sokkusu will no longer be available from Socktopus. Don’t worry – you will still be able to get your Sokkusu fix later this year (probably summer ish). The yarn business has been hived off and is being taken under my partner (not employee, as indicated in the article!) Ai-Ling Lee’s capable wings – though now she will be flying solo with Sokkusu as we have decided to part ways.  I had been planning to move the dye studio to Hong Kong but, when taking a long hard look at things, it just didn’t make sense. Particularly not the shipping of Sokkusu-O undyed from Europe to Hong Kong so I could dye it, only to have it shipped back to Europe. Ling has been doing a stellar job so it made sense for Ling to spread her wings and see what she could do with Sokkusu, under her own brand. The yarn will still be called Sokkusu, just under a new mama brand helmed by Ling. Ling hasn’t yet settled on a name for her new venture, but as soon as she has I will let you all know. I wish her every success – and for those of you who have been privileged to fondle her colourways over the last year and half, you know she is going to rock! 😀

Third – there will be no more Knit Nations for the foreseeable future…. unless there is a move back to London. It is simply too difficult to organise from this end of the world.  However… if there are those of you out there who want to take on the mantle of Knit Nation, do get in touch.

I am still designing, though at a much slower pace so that I can enjoy my little one who is turning one in just 12 days time (?!? how on earth that happened so fast I will never know). For the first time in years, I am not at the computer every single day for hours at a time.  And for the first time in 5 years, I no longer bring my laptop with me when I travel.  I always had to bring my laptop because I always had deadlines, designs, etc and had to work even when on holiday.  So I am looking forward to no longer having to lug it around, though it has now been replaced by the ipad (better than drugs when trying to induce a calm stupor in child on plane!).

As for future Knit Love Club’s – I have decided to take a break from designing for the Knit Love Club  for now and enjoy my daughter while she is still wee and not yet at school.  There are possibilities – maybe Ling might be game to do a club with me next year, maybe she might want to go another direction.  I just don’t know at this stage. However, what I do know is that it will be a colourful adventure, whatever  path Ling chooses to go down.

For now, I have a couple designs in the works for 2013, both mystery designs.  The first is  a mystery sock coming up in June for the Sock Knitter’s Anonymous group on Ravelry. The second is a long overdue Socktopus Mystery Shawl Knitalong (SMSKAL) for later this summer (also  available on Ravelry).  It goes without saying I will be using Ling’s Sokkusu for both! I cannot wait to see what colourways she will dream up for me. Cloud 9 all the way.  I hope you will join me on these mystery design adventures!

Next up, my annual retrospective for 2012.

Baby’s got wings


My littlest one is now almost four months old. I can’t believe that solid food is coming up in a couple of months. The days go by so quickly; everything is filled, and to a certain extent taken over, by this little bundle of sweetness.  Next round of vaccinations to come next week. Her TB shot is almost healed though it’s still shiny and pinkish.

She’s hit the 6.5 kg mark and loves to stand up and grab my hair. Hard. She keeps trying to crawl though she needs to figure out how to make her arms help her move as her legs and feet do all the pushing so she mostly just goes in a circle. On her back she wriggles like a fish to move around. She continues to sleep like a trooper and I’m slowly moving her bedtime earlier (it’s now 9pm from 10pm and I’m gunning for 8pm) and she sleeps a solid 11 hours.

New this month:
-lots and lots of talking – and shouting and screeching (no other word for it). She seems to be testing her voice as she’ll screech with her eyes closed then peek an eye open to see who’s watching her. It’s hard to pretend not to notice when I’m doubled over laughing at her not very subtle efforts to get attention.
-1/2 naps two hours after waking.
-grabbing my hair with a vice-like grip. funny thing is, when she touches her own hair it’s with an open palm and the lightest caress.
-went swimming for the first time which she took to like a duck to water. We got her a little inflatable donut so she can lie in it and keep her face out of water while still being in the right position to frog kick. She also really likes ‘walking’ in the water and jumping

-flirting with people – out and about she’ll look at waiters, doctors, anyone and smile at them until they return the smile then she’ll beam at them.
-sucking her hands and finding her thumb.

Amandine's first flight

We also took a little trip to Taipei to visit my friend Cam. It was a triple bonus – not only did I get to see Cam, who I hadn’t seen in over 10 years, I got to visit Taipei, where I hadn’t been for over 20 years, and had the pleasure of  the sterling company of my friend Alice who’d been travelling with Cam in Thailand before heading to Taiwan. It was also a good toe in the water for travelling with the little one as I had my two wingmen with me for the flight over as I joined them when they were transiting through Hong Kong.

Amandine was a dream on the plane and got lots of googoos and gagas from everyone. I had no idea how awesome it is to travel with a baby – the immigration officer literally melted like putty in front of us and ran around getting Amandine’s visa sorted for us (since I’d done it wrong) all the while saying “Auntie will make it all better for you”. When at Taipei 101 at the back of the long snaking queue to get to the observation deck, the security officer took one look at Amandine in her stroller and said that we should go up to the front by the lifts where they would ‘arrange things for us’.  The security guard by the lift asked us to wait, again said they would ‘arrange things for us’, then promptly let us on the next lift.  Pretty awesome.  I only wish I’d had the wits to ask for an upgrade when the Cathay ladies were making googly eyes at Amandine at the check-in desk.  😉

If you haven’t seen Janel Laidman’s new venture The Sock Report head on over there for their inaugural issue. It’s all about sock yarn love and has a host of of gorgeous patterns (including one for a wee owl!) and articles.  I love the Cambium sock pattern by Kristi Geraci – the texture is amazing. There’s even an article on how to make a shadow wrap heel and our very own Sokkusu is featured in two patterns – Marigold by Susanna IC, and Bivalve by Kirsten Kapur! Wooot!

Knitting continues apace, well, maybe less apace and continues whenever Amandine naps or plays on her own; these are the Knit Love Club socks for April (modelled by my lovely neighbour Melissa), The Tideway and Merrivale, both inspired by the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race in London.

The Tideway

Merrivale

Party’s ready to start – so where’s the party girl?

Feb 8, Blueberry’s official due date, has now come and gone (okay, maybe not quite gone in some timezones…).

I figured I ought to pack my hospital stuff, so I did… and now they sit there in the bedroom looking all ready to party but with nowhere to go!

I’m not sure if I’m having the beginnings of contractions – sort of very mild cramping that happens every hour or so… nothing that I can’t talk through or ignore. Will keep an eye out and see. Could just be braxton-hicks contractions (fakey ones).

Meimei & Deuce’s walker is coming today so that when the time comes, we have a dog sitter that the furry monkeys will be familiar with to make sure they’re being cared for while we’re all headless chickens running amok towards and at the hospital.

We found out something interesting about Meimei via Tarquin‘s owner. He’s done some research and is pretty sure that the dogs christened ‘black fluffies’ by HKDR, and Lamma Island Retrievers by me, are actually Belgian Groenendael Sheepdogs. It’s pretty amazing – the character traits are pretty spot on. From Wikipedia:

“Belgian Shepherd Dogs are described as highly intelligent, alert, sensitive to everything going on around them and form very strong relationship bonds. They are said to be loyal, intelligent, fun, highly trainable and well suited to family life. They should receive plenty of socializing as puppies and will benefit from regular activity and close interaction with people throughout their lifespan. Their herding heritage gives them a comparatively high energy level, and mental as well as physical exercise is necessary to keep a Belgian happy and healthy.

Belgian Shepherds do well in sports such as obedience training and dog agility. They are used as assistance and search and rescue dogs, as well as police, military and narcotics dogs.”

Well she certainly is quite clever and needs alot of mental stimulation to keep her from using her brains for mischief (like figuring out how to get the lid off the rubbish can). She also likes to herd us when we walk with her – she always waits for the last straggler of the group and makes sure we are all together.  It’s a bit sad too- knowing that someone must have abandoned at least one Belgian Sheepdog on Lamma Island for there to have been so many stray litters. Must find Meimei some kind of agility course for her to train on.

Meanwhile some Socktopus Sokkusu news – we have a limited edition colourway for Valentine’s 2012 – “My Funny Valentine”. It’s a heartfelt deep rich red with veins of purple.

There are still some skeins left, perfect for a shawl or pair of socks for a loved one or dear friend!  You can find it in the Socktopus Shop here.

We’ll also have a special pop-up this Friday with some of our popular, but resting, pinks and reds including Pout, Strawberry & Pinkly.

Knit Nation Merchandise Clearance Sale

We’re also making room in our stock room for more yarn – and so we’re having a clearance sale on all our Knit Nation merchandise.  All the mugs and bags are now 50% off; mugs were £8 each and are now £4 each, and bingo bags are £3 down from £6. You can stock up here.

Knit Love Club 2011 Patterns

For those of you waiting on the release of last year’s Knit Love Club patterns, we’ll be releasing them individually as follows for £4.50 each:

1 March: Gnomely
1 May: Fiyero
1 July: Zories
1 September: Blueberry Jig
1 November: Vignoble & Methuselah
1 December: Breadcrumbs & Lussekatter

We are also offering a KLC 2011 Pattern Yearbook ebook. You’ll automatically receive each pattern on its release date via a Ravelry PDF download.  The KLC 2011 ebook is available for £27.  You can purchase the 2011 Pattern Yearbook using the link below:

And for the first 2012 Knit Love Club patterns, as the pattern pack has now been sent out, I thought I’d show you the first two patterns for the year.

[spoiler]

For the February Knit Love Club kit, I created a slipped stitch pattern called Fanque’s Circus , designed to show off highly variegated yarns, and used those for both patterns.   The club colourway is called Thunder & Blazes, which inspired the whole circus theme (Thunder & Blazes is the march that signals the entrance of the clowns).

The first of the two patterns for February is Fanque’s Circus Socks, a pretty sock with a picot cuff.

The second pattern is Fanque’s Circus Mittens – a pair of cozy mittens using the same stitch pattern. Here is Ling modelling her pair (photo also courtesty of Ling).

The following two photos are courtesy of Heli Rajavaara, and also show the mittens in a solid colour. I think they look quite pretty in solid too.

I’m really excited to see our club members’s WIPs and FOs for the yarn and Feb patterns.

[/spoiler]

Now to wait and see about Blueberry. She needs to get her dancing shoes on. The music’s on, the dance floor’s waiting….. the party is raring to go. Just waiting for the party girl now!

Ling: Socktopus’s New Team Member

It’s about time you met Socktopus’s new team member- making Socktopus a two woman band! Let me introduce you to our Production Dyer Extraordinaire – Ai-Ling Lee.

Ling joined Socktopus in June of 2011 and has been working with me to master our recipes and dyeing techniques. Ling is a godsend – while she works her magic in the dyepots and makes sure all your orders are sent out, I’m able to put much needed time into designing, colour consulting, strategy, marketing, and everything else.

Based in London, Ling is a maestro of logistics – coordinating a family of 5 (3 kids and hubby) and a busy dyeing schedule certainly keeps her on her toes.  With a background in accounting and abiding love for crafting (designing and knitting garments for herself and her kids, not to mention beadwork and lampwork), she brings style and grace to Socktopus London HQ.

I am so thrilled to welcome Ling to Socktopus and feel inordinately lucky that she has decided to hop onboard the Socktopus Express (which can certainly get crazy insane and crazy busy at times!) – not least for her methodical modus operandi and her artistic flair, but also for her lovely personality and wicked sense of humour.

Squeee!

Well, this week has been full of excitement! On Monday Loopy Ewe put up Sokkusu Original in her update – 3 of the 20 colours have sold out (2 are my favourite Siffie & Lorelai) – you can see the yarn here. Fly Eye and Wooing Ruby were really hard to photograph – so they don’t look quite true on the Loopy site.  Fly Eye looks solid on the Loopy site, but it has subtle varigation. And Wooing Ruby is bright deep red!

The other thing is that a friend sent me a link to a book on Amazon – my book! Socktopus is available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, though the US and UK editions have different covers.

This is the UK edition, with my Shur’tugals on the front.

And I think this is the US version (not sure if it is official or not)

I’m hoping not because I need them to change the title.  The book isn’t a guide to designing socks, in fact I’m not even sure where they got that idea.  The US editorial review description and author description are also factually incorrect…so take it with a pinch of salt until I can get it amended.  BUT despite the tiny niggles, it’s my book it’s my book it’s my book! So exciting!  I sent off a pile of amends to my editor Judith last night – the last lot of amends.  It’s finally happening…. haha this week is all about fruits of labour! 🙂

 

Sunday Morning Waffles Scarf

I‘m sorry for the long silence. Work has been hectic but things have settled and I finally have my weekends, and blogging time, back again. Boy I’ve missed them!  I have a peace offering, in the hopes you forgive my long silence! A free scarf pattern, called Sunday Morning Waffles… but first…

So what has been keeping me crazy busy? The book has been very demanding, but I can happily report that book has been sent off to repro, and I should be getting a colour proof this week. It looks pretty cool. I’ve also been at the dye pots like woman possesed – over six hundred skeins have been sent out to their new homes….one a secret project, an order to L’Oisivethe in Paris, Holland Road Yarn Company in New Zealand, and finally Loopy Ewe’s huge order, which Sheri has hinted might be in their update on the 13th. Fingers crossed!

Ayame

I love the fun activities that Sheri dreams up for The Loopy Ewe – the next one is Camp Loopy – all the fun of a knitting camp without the bugs and ache of sleeping on the hard lumpy ground! Their first Camping Project – “Campfire Nights” is to knit a two-color cape, shawl, or scarf between June 15 and July 15. The Loopy Ewe is offering 20% off of the yarn for this project if you add “Camp Loopy” to the order notes and let them know which yarn in that order to be used for the Camp Project. And is it bad of me to show you what might come up in their update? Tee hee…

Lime & Basil

Queenie

Jammy Dodger

Paradise Lost

Lorelai

Summer Crush

Wooing Ruby

Chestnut Cream

Fly Eye

Pinkly

Poseidon

Slice of Orange

Prairie Dusk

I thought I’d join in on the Campfire Nights – but couldn’t find a two colour project that was feeling the love. So I decided to do a little make up your own – and came up with this:

I’m calling the two colour brioche stitch scarf Sunday Morning Waffles.  I had some fun pairing up colours before deciding. Prairie Dusk & HB2 were my first choice…  but then, what about Prairie Dusk & Lorelai?

Or Slice of Orange (sheesh I really should have called it Glow cause it does just that) with HB2, Fly Eye, Summer Crush, or Lorelai?

Or maybe classic Ysolda HB2 & Wooing Ruby? Or Fly Eye and Lime & Basil? Oh decisions decisions….

I gave in to the call of my glow baby – and paired it with my second favourite Lorelai. I think it looks pretty, don’t you?  And the brioche is a nice cushy stitch, great to keep warm.  Would you like to join the Campfire Nights Camp Loopy Project? Head on over to Loopy Ewe and get yourself some yarn!

Pattern: Sunday Morning Waffles

Needle size: Approx 2.5mm circulars or two long DPNs

Yarn: 2 skein of Sokkusu Original (or other fingering weight yarn) in contrasting colours.

LC: Slice of Orange

DC: Lorelai

Gauge: In pattern: 5.5 sts/inch

Finished size: Blocked width approx 10″, length as long as you want it, but for a good length scarf at least 60″

Notes: Each row is worked twice in each direction – once with the LC, and again with the DC.  Using one colour, you’ll work across the row, then sliding the work back to the start position, you’ll work across the row again in the same direction with the second colour.  Turn the work, then work the RS twice, first with the LC, then again with the DC.  There is a selvedge of 3 sts either side of the work which are only worked when working the DC rows.

With DC, loosely cast-on 50 sts. Knit 8 rows, slipping the first st of every row purlwise and bringing the yarn to the back between the needles before knitting to the end.

Set-up row 1 A (WS LC): Sl first three sts purlwise.  With LC, * yf, sl1, yo, k1; repeat from * to 3 sts from end. Bring LC yarn to back between needles, slip last three sts purlwise. Do not turn.

Set-up row 1 B (WS DC): Slide work to other side of needle, and using DC, sl1 purlwise, bring yarn to back between needles, k2, *slip yo from Set-up row 1A purlwise wyif, p2; repeat from * to last three sts, k3, turn.

Row 1 A (RS LC): Sl first three sts purlwise.  With LC,* sl1 yo p2tog (the yarn over and next st); repeat from * to last three sts, bring yarn to back, slip last three sts purlwise. Do not turn.

Row 1 B (RS DC): Slide work to other side of needle, and using DC, sl1 purlwise, bring yarn to back between needles, k2, k1 (the st that is partially behind a yarn over, just move the yarn over slightly to the left to be able to knit this st), *sl yo purlwise wyib, k2 (the second st will be partially behind a yarn over, do as you did before to knit this); repeat from * to last 5 sts, sl yo purlwise wyib, k4, turn.

Row 2 A (WS LC):  Sl first three sts purlwise.  With LC,*with yarn in front, sl1, yo, k2tog (the yarn over and next st); repeat from * to last three sts, slip last three sts purlwise. Do not turn.

Row 2 B (WS DC): Slide work to other side of needle, and using DC, sl1 purlwise, bring yarn to back between needles, k2, *sl yo purlwise wyif, p2; repeat from * to last 3 sts, k3, turn.

Continue working four steps of Rows 1-2 as set til work is about as 50 inches long, ending with Row 2B.

Using DC, knit 8 rows, slipping the first st of every row purlwise and bringing the yarn between the needles before knitting to the end.

Bind off. Weave in ends.

Block, and then wear to keep you toasty warm!

 

Helpful abbreviations:

wyib – with yarn in back

wyif – with yarn in front

yf – yarn to front

yo – yarn over

 

Gaie Paris

Yesterday morning was an early start – 5am. Arrived in good time to Kings Cross to meet Michaela and Yuvee to catch our Eurostar train to Paris.

Paris was gorgeous, nice and sunny.  We  found a cafe and had a little breakfast in the sun.

Not wanting to waste any time we hit the Marais and came upon Entrer des Fournisseurs, a cute haberdashery.

A really lovely place with very helpful ladies.

We then stopped for a bit to eat at the famous L’As du Fallafel on Rue des Rosiers.

There was a constant queue for the fallafel. Really quite impressive!

Some cool graffiti just outside the fallafel place:

We paid a visit to La Droguerie near St Eustache church.  I love this little shop since it’s so atmospheric.

They have their own range of yarns which look very pretty too.

The only problem is that it’s quite the pain in the butt to shop there.  There are jars and jars of lovely buttons-  and lots of yarn hanging off the wall… but they are not to be touched.  To shop here, you have to find a shop assistant to help you ie you tell her what you want and she goes off to get it.  Fine when it’s not busy but a total pain when there is a queue.  Still, it’s nice just to go and soak up the atmosphere. Speaking of which, this rather Victorian looking chap came strolling by. New fashion perhaps?

We then popped into Le Bon Marche and headed up to the haberdashery upstairs.  Such cute samples!

Then we went to our main destination – L’Oisivethe in the 13th arrondissement.  Really nice vibe to the neighbourhood which was quite low key.  We wandered through a park, and came upon the tea shop.

This is such a gem – cozy, inviting and welcoming.


With a great selection of yarn.  My favourite kind – all handpainted! Lorna’s Laces, Sweet Georgia, lots and lots of Koigu, Dream in Color yarn, and of course, Sokkusu!

Michaela found a skein of Lorna’s laces in the exact shade of her top.

Aimee the owner has great taste – including having Cookie’s Knit. Sock. Love book!

We joined Aimee’s Wed night knit night, and I got to meet some lovely knitters! Including Elisala who is knitting Spriteling in HB2.  Such a kick to meet her since I’d ‘met’ her already online via Ravelry.

We had dinner at the shop and over dinner and knitting I got to meet Elisabeth and see Diane again (last person from left, facing camera) my fellow Canadian and long time member of the Knit Love Club!  It was quite cool to actually go to Diane’s knitting group (she’d invited me many many moons ago and it was quite the thrill to finally join her).

Both Elisabeth and Diane are coming to Knit Nation this year; so excited! I was sad not to meet Daniele – but it means something for next time. 🙂  The wed night knit night was a great group of ladies, both English and French speaking.

Mimi-Tricote was knitting Swallowtail in Sandcastles (she’s second from left facing the camera).  Sokkusu really is quite perfect for knitting shawls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aimee was working on her Spriteling, as was I (on my fourth one). My needle had popped out it’s metal base and desperately needed some new 4.5mm circs. Aimee saved me.  She sells sets of Knitter’s Choice interchangeable needles (they come in a very pretty fabric case).   I’ve been a long-time fan of Knit-Pro, but recently I’m rethinking this – the quality just isn’t what it ought to be, needles popping out of their bases, or the threads failing… very annoying.  Anyways, really happy with the new needles. Was able to get on with Clue 2 of my Sam Spriteling (colourway from Bloodlines sock club). Photos later.

And here is lovely Aimee with me.  **waves** Thanks Aimee for an awesome evening!