Knitting whilst I was pregnant felt like a wonderful thing. It made me look forwards to the impending birth (or, rather, welcoming our little boy to our lives) and helped me through the nervousness and weeks of feeling like I wanted to be doing something towards the future. However, for every cute thing that was knit I felt like I had an interminable wait until the day that my little one would finally get to wear the finished piece, and who doesn’t want to see hand knitted lovely things on cute babies?
Baby Awesome suits a rainbow, and like all babies he is extra squishy and cuddly when kept warmed by the love and comfort of hand knits.
These pictures feel somewhat poignant for me today, as last night Mr Awesome and I had to go through all of Baby Awesome’s clothes to put aside all of the newborn and 0-3 month old shop bought items to pass on to other new parents or to charity (I’d like to donate the items to a women’s refuge charity if possible). Saying goodbye to the smallest little suits was quite sad in a way, to see how much our little man has grown, and so quickly. He is not yet 8 weeks old, but his 0-3 clothes are too short now… He is in the 99.7th percentile for height, but not quite as high in the weight charts, so he is growing to be tall and slim, like his daddy. AT least this means that all of his hand knit jumpers and cardigans should fit him a little longer!
There are still plenty of knitwear items knit by both myself and a few kind friends that he is yet to wear, but he is just about ready to grow into them, so there will be many more baby knitwear photos to come in the next few weeks!
Last year, as a Secret Santa gift from a partner on a website that I visit, I received a set of Scrabble Coasters in a tin. Two of each letter plus ‘special’ squares (centre, triple and double letter and words scores), all made of the dry cardboard that traditional pub beer mats are made from. They have sat unused on the table in their decorative tin as it seemed a bit of a shame to risk them getting wet and old (which, being coasters, they’d be likely to do). The other day Mr Awesome picked the tin up and asked what we were to do with them, and so we decided to stick them on the wall.
As the ’tiles’ are secured using only blu tack it makes a great temporary piece of wall art, perfect for those living in student accommodation or for anyone wanting to decorate for a particular occasion, such as a special birthday, engagement or seasonal holiday.
We went with our family names and the thing that ties us all together! To get the tiles lined up as accurately as possible, Mr Awesome used a combination of a plumb line hastily constructed from a weight on a bit of string and a phone app that acts as a spirit level.
To look its best, the selection of words should fit together with common letters, as in an actual game of Scrabble.
this is a very quick and simple way to bring a bit of joy to our large, empty wall, and perfectly compliments a framed piece we received for our wedding, which hangs on the wall opposite.
Let me quickly start by pointing out that this is not a sponsored post, and all opinions are entirely my own…
My most recent project on the needles, a pair of socks knit two-at-a-time on a single Knitpro Cubics circular needle, is just the right kind of comfortable stress-free knitting to allow me to dip into and out of an on-going project in rare moments of quiet as Baby Awesome sleeps. Square needles are now available from a number of different manufacturers and many people believe them to both be more comfortable to knit with and to produce more even knitting. I have used wooden Knitpro Cubics to knit items like sweaters, but was tentative at believing that the smaller sized square Nova needles in sizes needed to make socks would be as easy and comfortable to grip: however I have found that they are extremely easy on the hands as the needles do not ‘roll’ as you knit with them, allowing a more relaxed hold.
One of the interesting things to look out for when trying square profile needles such as Knitpro Cubics is the different way that the shape of the needle affects gauge when compared with an equivalent sized round needles. Like normal round needles, square needles are sized by the smallest hole of a needle gauge that the needles will fit through. For a round needle this would be the same as the diameter of the needle, but for a square needle this relates to the size of the needle as measured diagonally from corner to corner. In the example below, both the two needles on the left would fit through the same 8mm hole in a needle gauge, so both are given to be 8mm needles.
However, the distance that the yarn has to travel around the square needle is not the same as the distance that the yarn has to travel around the circumference of a normal 8mm needle.
The circumference of the round 8mm needle is easily found by using πr2 (or π x diameter, for purposes of illustration) and by working backwards through Pythagoras we can easily find the equivalent measurement around the square profile needle. In the example of an 8mm square needle vs 8mm round needle, the yarn has to travel a whole 2.5mm more around the round needle than it does around the equivalent sized square needle. As with anything to do with sizing in knitting, though 2.5mm may seem like a relatively small amount, multiplied up by the many thousands of stitches needed to create a project, this soon becomes a very big disparity.
When trying to achieve gauge for a particular project, many knitters will start their swatching by using the needle size recommended in the pattern. The table below gives the circumference given by commercially available needle sizes and the perimeter of their equivalent sized square counterparts.
Old UK sizing
US needle sizes
square needle equivalent
Needle size called for in pattern
Needle size to try
3.5mm or 3.75mm
3.75mm or 4mm
7 or 7.5mm
7.5mm or 8mm
10mm or 12 mm
12mm or 15mm
15mm or 20mm
20mm or 25mm
Using the table above, a suggested equivalent square needle size is given for each standard round needle, according to which size it falls nearest to. Where an equivalent round needle falls almost equally between two sizes, both are given.
Though the table above can be used to calculate the most likely starting point when trying to achieve gauge, as with choosing the needle for any project, a tension square or swatch should be completed to find the right sized needle for the task in hand. The knitter’s own knitting style and degree of tension when knitting, as well as the varying properties of various yarns, may possibly have an even greater effect on the possible variations in gauge on square needles than they do with round needles. This is due to the fact that the yarn essentially has to travel a path around four corners, rather than a round circumference.
A knitter whose stitches are made under high tension and with a yarn with enough flexibility or drape to cling to the contours of the yarn may find that the disparity in gauge between their use of equivalent square and circular needle is greater than someone with a very relaxed tension, or where a robust yarn with a lot of body and little stretch or drape refuses to conform to the contours of the square needle. Essentially, the looser the yarn travels around the needle, or the more resistant the yarn is to laying tight against the straight edges and sharp corners of the square profile needle, the closer the path of the yarn resembles that which it may take around a regular round needle.
The tension square remains key to achieving correct project gauge when using square profile needles, but using the table given above it may be possible to at least make a best guess at which needle size to start swatching with. Where two sizes are given as close alternatives, ‘tight’ knitters may with to choose the larger of the two sizes, whereas very relaxed knitters may wish to choose the smaller size to begin their test square with.
With so many needle variations on the market from a multitude of different companies manufacturing needles from a vast array of different materials, square profile needles could have been dismissed as just a mere gimmick, but there are many knitters who swear by the needles for both the beauty of the stitches that they produce and the benefits of comfort that they bring to the hand. Some knitters have claimed to be able to knit in comfort and with reduced effects from the pain of arthritic conditions for the first time in years, due to the more relaxed and consistent grip that the needles allow. Whether these beliefs are true or not, square needles can be purchased as interchangeable tips, straight needles, fixed circulars and DPNs from various companies and for not too much money, so it may be worth experimenting with square tips if you experience any discomfort when knitting or, indeed, just want some novelty in your knitting experience – just remember to swatch!
Mr Awesome’s socks are coming along in short spurts between feeds and changes, and the occasional long walk to town. The cuff and seven stripes for the legs have been knit, and the final dark teal colour has been reached, signalling the end of the leg. The heel has been knit in a slip stitch pattern and I have turned the heel on each sock. I have decided to use a flap and gusset heel for these socks, though I have never settled on a favourite heel – I tend to flit between these and a short row heel dependant on the yarn I am using, but as the foot portion of these socks is to be knit entirely in a solid colour there is no reason to favour one over the other. If the foot of the yarn had continued in a striping sequence then I would always choose to use a short row heel, placed as an afterthought heel or knit in situ with co-ordinating yarn, to preserve the steady stripe sequence.
There is only one element of these socks that I am slightly disappointed with, and that’s a couple of the colour transitions, especially that between the sixth and seventh stripes. The sixth stripe is a mid blue, and the seventh a mid grey, but they are extremely similar in depth of tone, so at first glance the two stripes are confused into one wider stripe. The effect can easily be seen when the image is given in greyscale.
There is a decent amount of tonal contrast between all of the other adjacent stripes in the socks, so this area seems out of keeping with the other areas of the yarn design. If the whole sock had been tonally steady (such as all pastel shades) then the yarn would seem far more harmonious, but it is only between these two stripes that the colours are tonally close.
Distinct tonal differences between adjacent shades is a principle element of a lot of colourwork, especially when working motifs against a range of background shades in stranded colourwork: if dominant and background colours are too close tonally, the motifs may be lost, or visually displeasing, and so should be kept distinct. I try to stick to this basic principle when choosing yarn for projects where distinct motifs are important to the design such as in the Star Stocking.
When choosing yarns for this design, two of the colours chosen were almost identical in tonal value: the lighter green and bright red. However, this was taken into account in the design and if the image is viewed in colour it can be seen that these two colour choices are never placed adjacent. In fact, when viewed in greyscale the entire patterning of the stocking is clearly discernible.
A great tip when choosing yarns for a colourwork pattern in a yarn shop is to snap a picture on your mobile phone and use an app to change the picture to greyscale: you should be able to see clear definition between any shades that are to be placed adjacent, especially in the case of a foreground and background colour.
Though there are no intricate patterns to get ‘lost’ in the stripes of the socks, I would personally have preferred that the sixth and seventh stripes of the yarn had been in greater contrast, the simplicity and joy of the simplest form of knitting has also been greatly relaxing: there is no pattern to get lost in or to concentrate on, so I can chuck the socks aside between stitches when a wavering little cry is given, or a coo to signify it is time to wake up and play, so sooner or later, on a timescale decided by both Awesome Baby and I, Mr Awesome will soon have a new, rather wonderful, pair of socks.
Over the past few days I have felt a slight return to myself after the birth, and with the shock of a new routine not lead by me and all its demands slowly settling in I thought I might like to take up just a bit of knitting, to hopefully bring with it some return to my notion of self.
When I have decided to return to knitting after big occasion, either very busy, deliriously happy or in some occasions traumatic, I have usually had a good think about what kind of project I might best tackle for my current frame of mind, and so with busy days, many new tasks, a lot of noise and a decent amount of lost sleep, I thought some simple, vanilla socks would be just the ticket.
The only problem with stockinette socks is that they can sometimes feel a bit dull to knit. They are almost so far into the comfort zone that they become a little boring, and to counter this I often feel I need some semblance of surprise, which is why choosing good, fun yarn is absolutely key for me.
These socks are for Mr Awesome, so there is a lot of knitting involved as much like the rest of him, his feet are big. So, I decided that stripes were in order, but as I no more fancy fiddling around with lots of little balls of yarn than I do weaving in all of the ends, I managed to hunt down some of Regia’s Pairfect yarn. This yarn is supplied in 100g balls and promises a matching pair of socks each time. The ball can be knit from the centre for top-down socks, or from the outside if you wish to knit toe up. Each ball starts with a length of yellow ‘scrap’ yarn. You cast on from the point where this yellow yarn changes to the first of the colours for the cuff, and then knit the cuff and seven stripes of colour before knitting the heel, foot and toe in the solid colour.
Once the first sock is complete you wind any remaining yarn until reaching the second section of yellow scrap yarn and repeat the entire process until you have a perfectly matching pair of socks.
I have deviated from the instructions slightly to wind the skein into two smaller balls so that I can knit both socks simultaneously on on long circular via magic loop, which I really did because I did not trust myself not to get hit by a case of Second Sock Syndrome, where I might find myself presenting my husband with another orphan foot-covering.
As well as playing with a new form of yarn to reinstate my knitting mojo I am also enjoying the excitement of knitting with the new circular needle I treated myself to (because I am so very rock n’ roll): one of the Knitpro Kubics brass needles. I have knit with Knitpro Kubics before, though only in the larger sized wooden tips. The smaller metal needles are wonderfully comfortable for socks and the relaxed balanced grip and smooth surface has helped my stitches fly along in the rare quiet moment that I have to knit.
Hopefully the combination of needles and fun new yarn will help ensure that these socks do not languish unfinished as at the moment I am very much enjoying this simplest of knitting projects.